GUNN, John David
(Service number 4/2366)

Aliases Known as Jack
First Rank Sapper Last Rank Lance Corporal


Date 13 November 1890 Place of Birth South Shields, England

Enlistment Information

Date 3 February 1916 Age 25 years
Address at Enlistment No 3 Halswell Street, Wellington
Occupation Sheep station cadet
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs W. GUNN (mother), care of Dr GUNN, Timaru; 4 Park Street, Wellington
Religion Church of England
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 10th Reinforcements, New Zealand Engineers
Date 4 March 1916
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Engineers

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

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

Wool-sorter; clerk, civil servant


Date 14 July 1974 Age 83 years
Place of Death Christchurch
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John David Gunn, known as Jack, who was born on 13 November 1890 at South Shields, England, was the youngest of William and Elizabeth Jane (née Melton) Gunn. It is believed that Jack was educated at Timaru Main School and Timaru Boys’ High School. In the kindergarten race at the High School sports held in October 1897, J. Gunn finished second. His oldest brother, William, won the senior championship, accruing his points in the running events. Young Jack Gunn, dressed as Little sportsman, won the boys’ prize for fancy dress at the St Mary’s schoolroom entertainment at the beginning of September 1898, his youngest sister Alice, dressed as a Xmas Tree, winning the girls’ prize. In the same year, both Jack and Alice received prizes at the Sunday School. Again at St Mary’s, at the annual distribution of prizes in December 1900, Jack Gunn was awarded a Standart II prize. At Timaru Main School prize-giving in December 1901, J. Gunn was awarded a third-class certificate for Standard IV.At the High School in November 1904, J. Gunn featured in the athletics, coming second in the 100 yards (under 15) and third in the 440 yards (under 15). His success continued in March following, when he had 5½ points towards the junior championship, the next boy having 5. J. Gunn raised the bar in the high jump (under 15) to 4 feet 6¾ inches. He also finished second in the 120 yards hurdles. J. Gunn won the Junior Championship Medal, and was second in the junior steeplechase. It may have been football for the Timaru Club B team in June 1911.

John Gunn trained in wool-sorting and at the Timaru A. and P. show in 1910 he was placed third out of eleven entrants in the wool-classing competition. He was living at home and working at the Timaru Woollen Mills when, in March 1913, he planned to take up farming in Australia. His co-workers presented him with a sovereign case. He and his mate left in April for Queensland,” to acquire a knowledge of life on a sheep and cattle station on which they have secured employment.”

Did Jack remain in New Zealand after his father’s death? He enlisted on 3 February 1916 at Trentham, giving a Wellington address and his occupation as sheep station cadet. He named his mother as his next-of-kin. Her address was initially care of Dr Gunn, Timaru – Jack’s oldest brother, William. She was afterwards in Wellington. Sapper Gunn embarked with the New Zealand Engineers on 4 March 1916 at Wellington, destined for Suex, Egypt.

Lance corporal J. D. Gunn, 4.2366, of Timaru, embarked at London for Wellington, New Zealand on 16 May 1919 per the “Prinzrssin”, arriving on 30 June. The journey was made via the Panama Canal. Jack went back to his wool-sorting after the war, before venturing to England. There he married Marion Florence Kale in 1935. For a few years John and Marion lived in Kensington. They were from Lytham, Lancashire, when they came to New Zealand in early 1947 on the “Rimutaka”, both listing their occupation as clerk. Mr J. D. Gunn (Jack) and his brother Dr Gunn (Gordon) were both elected vice-presidenrts of the North Canterbury Branch of the Timaru Boys’ High School Old Boys’ Association. Marion died in December 1951 at Christchurch. John David Gunn died on 14 July 1974 at Christchurch, aged 83 years

Mr William Gunn died at Timaru in December 1914. William Gunn, from Helmsdale, Sutherland, Scotland, and Elizabeth Melton had married at Timaru in 1878 and, after a few years in Dunedin, had spent their time in Timaru, where Mr Gunn was a chemist and dental surgeon. He was very active in local activities, especially sporting organsations and charitable causes, and was a big ratepatyer, owning the Theatre Royal and the Olympia, which he had placed at the disposal of the ladies working for the Home and Belgian Relief Fund. On receiving news of his father’s serious illness, Mr Jack Gunn left the Queensland station where he was working on and travelled for fourteen days to reach Timaru just a few hours before his father’s death. He and his brother, Dr William Hunn were pall-bearers, Gordon bein in England. His mother, who had come from London as a small child, died at her Christchurch residence in October 1937, survived by her three daughters and three sons. At this time Mr J. D. Gunn was in London. Two siblings of Jack also served in the war – his sister Elizabeth and his brother Gordon. His oldest brother, William Alexander Gunn, a dentist at Timaru, was listed on the Reserve Roll, he being a married man with three children.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 January 2021]; England Birth Index ( [08 January 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [08 January 2021]; England Electoral Rolls ( [09 January 2021]; Shipping record ( [09 January 2021]; Timaru Herald, 23 October 1897, 10 December 1900, 20 December 1901, 24 November 1904, 25 March 1905, 15 April 1905, 18 March 1909, 15 June 1911, 24 March 1913, 12 April 1913, 17 [x 2] & 19 December 1914, SouthCanterbury Times, 2 September 1898,30 November 1898, 10 December 1900, Evening Star, 1 September 1900, Otago Daily Times, 9 September 1903, Evening Post, 22 March 1913, 13 March 1918, Press, 28 October 1910, 28 April 1925, 21 October 1937, 28 August 1943, New Zealand Times, 16 June 1919 (Papers Past) [07, 08 & 09 January 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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