EMERSON, Albert Leslie
(Service number 13850)

First Rank Sergeant Last Rank


Date 6 April 1882 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment 27 Richmond Street, Dunedin
Occupation Civil servant
Previous Military Experience South African War
Marital Status Married. Two children
Next of Kin Mrs I. F. EMERSON (wife), 27 Richmond Street, South Dunedin; 85 Church Street, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 14th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion, D Company
Date 26 June 1916
Transport Tahiti or Maunganui
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards Meritorious Service Medal

Award Circumstances and Date

London Gazette, 18 January 1919

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Defence Department instructor


Date 30 January 1953 Age 70 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Albert Leslie Emerson was the eldest son of Thomas and Laura Hayward (née Mann) Emerson. Both Albert and his brother Horace spent some time at Oamaru South and Oamaru North schools. Their father was a railway signalman and inventor who lived in the Oamaru / Waiareka Juntion area after arriving in New Zealand on the Edwin Fox in August 1873. Albert had served with the Otago Mounted Rifles in the South African War (6054), afterwards joining the Transvaal Police. There he met and married Ida Florence Gay Tan (born in Otago, New Zealand, on 26 February 1904). Albert and Ida had two sons born at Johannesburg – Albert Leslie on 21 December 1904 and Horace Edward Stewart on 12 January 1911. According to the Masonic Great War Project, Albert had joined the Civil Service Lodge in 1905 where he gave his occupation as a Sergeant of Police. He remained a member of the Lodge until resigning in September 1914, after wich time he presumably returned to New Zealand.

On enlistment, A. L. Emerson nominated his wife as next-of-kin – Mrs I. F. Emerson, 27 Richmond Street, South Dunedin, and later of 85 Church Street, Timaru. In 1919, Ida was at 85 Church Street. Their younger son Horace (Stewart) entered Timaru Main School on 3 July 1916, when he was 5½ years old. He transferred to Beckenham School, Christchurch, in May 1922. Their elder son, Albert Leslie Emmerson (Leslie), was a second-year student at the Timaru Technical School in October 1918, when he gained a first class pass in preliminary Woolclassing; and as a third-year student in November 1919, he gained a first class pass in final Woolclassing. In April 1919 he was awarded a certificate for the First Class Preliminary Course (Woolclassing) at Timaru Boys’ High School. At the Boys’ High School prize-giving in December 1919, his firt class certificate in Woolclassing was endorsed. In 1920 he passed the senior scholarship examination at Timaru Boys’ High School. Leslie, who was still associated with Timaru in 1924, went on to become a school teacher. Perhaps Mr and Mrs Emerson returned to New Zealand following the death of his father in December 1911, although it appears that A. L. Emerson was still in the Transvaal in January 1912..

Sergeant A. L. Emerson embarked on 26 June 1916. Brother R.M.S. A. L. Emerson, of Civil Service Lodge, No. 3118, was a committee member of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Masonic Asssociation which held a Masonic thanksgiving service on the cessation of hostilities in the Protestant Church at quievy, France, on Sunday, 24 November 1918. The soldiers sang several hymns. Regimental Sergeant-Major A. L. Emerson, 13850, was awarded the Meritorius Service Medal for gallantry (London Gazette, 18 January 1919). In April he was with the Army of Occupation near Cologne.

It was the end of December 1919 when A. L. Emerson arrived home per the “Rimutaka”. The following month he was appointed to the New Zealand Permanent Staff. In May 1921, Sergt-Major A. L. Emerson, who was “well known in Timaru”, was transferred from Reefton to Christchurch. In Christchurch he was an active member of the Returned Soldiers’ Association.

The Press reported on Sergeant-Major A L Emerson's service on the awarding of a long-service medal in an article published on 25 September 1942. It reads:




One of the best known New Zealand Permanent Staff warrant officers in Canterbury, Sergeant-Major A. L. EMERSON, has been awarded the New Zealand Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 20 years’ service in the New Zealand Military Forces. A veteran of the South African War and the Great War, Sergeant-Major Emerson is now area quartermaster at King Edward Barracks. He has served in the New Zealand Permanent Staff since 1920, being stationed on the West Coast, in Wellington, and in Christchurch.

Sergeant-Major Emerson began his military career in 1898 as a volunteer in the Queen’s Rifles at Oamaru. He left for South Africa in 1901 with the Otago Mounted Rifles as a member of the 8th Contingent, and served in Cape Colony, the Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and Bechuanaland. In the closing stages of the war he took part in the drives against the elusive Boer commandos which carried on guerrilla warfare after the defeat of the main forces in battle.

When peace was declared, Sergeant Major Emerson joined the South African Forces as he wished to see something of the country. At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 he was stationed in Johannesburg, and he served in the forces, operating under General Smuts, which quelled the rebellion led by Generals Beyers and De Wet. In these operations Sergeant-Major Emerson saw service in the Eastern Transvaal, mostly round Pretoria and Bronkhorstspruit, and then served with the forces in South-West Africa until the capitulation of the German forces. With other New Zealanders he then returned to New Zealand, and enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He served in France and Belgium, and was with the Army of Occupation, being among the last New Zealanders to leave Cologne after demobilisation. On his return he joined the New Zealand Permanent Staff.

Sergeant-Major Emerson was well known in peace time as an instructor of secondary school cadets. When this war started he was associated with the training of units of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force at a South Island military camp. He is also well known for his work as a member of the executive of the Christchurch Returned Services’ Association, of which he has been a member for 14 years, and is a member of the South African War Veterans’ Association. He holds the Meritorious Service Medal in addition to his South African and Great War medals."

Albert Leslie Emerson died on 30 January 1953 at Christchurch, aged 70 years. A few years later Mr Emerson moved to Dunedin, probably to be close to her elder son and his wife. She died there in 1966.

Two of Albert's brothers were also called up – Horace Hayward Emerson and Ralph Emerson. Post war Albert was an instructor with the Defence Department and enlisted again for World War I. Both of Albert's sons, Albert Leslie and Stewart, were later drawn in ballot for service in World War II.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [21 June 2020]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 June 2020]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [22 June 2020]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [23 June 2020]; Timaru Herald 23 October 1918, 19 March 1919, 17 April 1919, 17 November 1919, 12 December 1919, 22 February 1921, 28 May 1921, the Press 13 February 1919 and 25 September 1942, the Evening Post 21 April 1919, and the Sun 5 December 1919, courtesy of Papers Past at [23 June 2020 & 19 January 2021]; Web submission by A Brown, 12, 13 & 19 January 2021; "Regimental Sergeant Major Albert Leslie EMERSON MSM" in the Masonic Great War Project at [Accessed 14 January 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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