Profile

DON, Frank Ernest
(Service number 23/1133)

Aliases Enlisted as Walter Ernest Nicol
First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman

Birth

Date 28 June 1889 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 29 May 1915 Age 26
Address at Enlistment Excelsior Hotel, Timaru
Occupation Motor mechanic
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status single
Next of Kin Mrs A Don (mother), 80 Oban St, Roslyn, Dunedin
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information 5ft 6in, 144lbs, fair complexion, green eyes, brown hair

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation D Company, 1st Battalion
Unit, Squadron, or Ship New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Date 10 September 1915
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima or Navua or Warrimoo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian and Gallipoli
Service Medals British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1914-1915 Star
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

Discharge

Date 30 June 1916 Reason Discharged physically unfit (deformed foot)

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Carpenter

Death

Date 4 May 1966 Age 77
Place of Death Clyde
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Anderson's Bay, Dunedin
Memorial Reference Block 45S, Plot 263
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Frank Ernest Don enlisted under the psuedoym WAalter Ernest Nicol, with service number 23/1133. The fact that did not appear to come to the attention of the authorities until Mr Don tried to get a pension in 1961. As Walter Ernest Nicol, he gave his date of birth as 28 June 1889, his age at 26. He was described as 5ft 6in, 144lbs, with fair complexion, green eyes, and brown hair. He was living in the Excelsior Hotel, Timaru and reported his last job was as a motor mechanic with Cook, Howlison Co, Dunedin. His next of kin, however, was his mother, Mrs A Don of 8 Oban St, Dunedin.

"Walter" enlisted on 29 May 1915 and was attached to 1st Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade as a rifleman, embarking from Wellington for Suez and Egypt 9 October 1915. He served as cook in Egypt from November 1915 until January 1916 – perhaps as his foot was giving him trouble. The New Zealand General Hospital in Cairo diagnosed a deformed foot in March 1916 and he was returned to New Zealand on the Ulimaroa within a few weeks, and discharged as physically unfit on 30 June 1916 having completed one year 33 days in the service. After his discharge Walter Ernest Nicol one again reverted to using his real name - Frank Ernest Don.

Frank was a motor mechanic in Otira in 1919, a carpenter in Lake Pukaki in 1928, and a carpenter in Otorohanga in 1935. He married Georgina Radford in 1935 and by 1938 the couple were living in Tomahawk, Dunedin. They were in Alexandra by 1946 but in 1961 Frank Don was in need of a pension and then things got difficult. He couldn’t prove his army service. In a letter to military base records in Wellington dated 27 March 1961 Frank, then living at the Bendigo Hotel in Alexandra wrote:

“When I joined the forces in 1915 I thought I was born in 1896, making me under age. There were four of us so we changed our names, a very foolish thing to do but we were young and foolish. I joined with the NZRB as Walter Ernest Nicol 23/1133 1st Batt, D Coy, 15th Platoon under Tom Wilfred, lieutenant. My next of kin in my paybook was my mother Mrs Milly Don, No. 8 Oban St, Roslyn, Dunedin. I was born in Dunedin on June 28th 1889 as Frank Ernest Don, so that makes me 72 on June 28th 1961. I was head carpenter for the MOW here for over 20 years. I knocked off in 1957 at 68 years of age and did not know I could have been drawing 100 pounds a year after I had reached 65 so I lost 300 pounds... I am receiving 70 pounds a year … I haven’t got any clothes, my shoes are worn out and I have to wait for a cold day so I can wear an overcoat to cover my dingy clothes… Is there any chance you could help me?”

The army made extensive inquiries and was able to confirm Frank Don’s claim. A pension was awarded. They noted: “Don states that when he enlisted he gave his name as Warne Ernest Nichol, but it was taken down as Walter Ernest Nichol and he left it at that and continued to use this name up to about the time of his marriage. He states he chose the surname of Nicol after his paternal grandmother and the christian name of Warne after his maternal grandmother. One of his sons is named Alexander Frank Nicol Don and the other Ernest Warne Radford Don.”

Frank Don died at Clyde on 4 May 1966. He was cremated and his ashes are interred at Anderson’s Bay Cemetery, Dunedin.

Sources

Auckland War memorial Museum Cenotaph database [August 2021]; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [August 2021]

External Links

Related Documents

No documents available. 

Researched and Written by

Sahiban Kanwal; Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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