ELSOM, William James
(Service number 55458)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||1 February 1897||Place of Birth||New Zealand (Temuka or Macraes Flat, Otago)|
|Address at Enlistment||Peel Forest|
|Occupation||Teamster (Tripps, Orari Gorge, Geraldine)|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs F. C. ELSOM (mother), Macraes Flat, Otago|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||28th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company|
|Date||26 July 1917|
|Embarked From||Destination||Plymouth, Devon, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||9 August 1965||Age||68 years|
|Place of Death||Timaru|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Geraldine Cemetery|
|Memorial Reference||Services Section, Row 503, Plot 1|
|New Zealand Memorials|
William James Elsom was born on 1 February 1897, perhaps at Temuka, perhaps at Macraes Flat, Otago. He was the second son of Frederick Charles and Mary Ann (Ann, née Griffin) Elsom. Mr Elsom was a blacksmith at Macraes Flat. He died on 16 September 1905 at the Dunedin Hospital, leaving Ann with seven young children (one unborn). He was buried at Macraes Flat Cemetery, Mary Ann with him more than 53 years later.
William Elsom was a rouseabout at Peel Forest, when his name was drawn in the ballot for the 30th Reinforcements. When he enlisted, he was a teamster for the Tripps at Orari Gorge. He named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs F. C. Elsom, Macraes Flat, Otago.
Among the recruits for the South Canterbury quota of the 30th Reinforcement was W. J. Elsom, one of about 15 men who had gone from Geraldine to Temuka to join the train. The men from the Temuka and Geraldine districts going into camp to join the 30th Reinforcements were given one of the “send-offs” from Temuka, which have now become famous. (Temuka Leader, 29 May 1917.) They were entertained at luncheon – “a splendid spread”. After a few addresses, all assembled, with the exception of those going into camp, rose and sang “For they arc jolly good fellows”. “They were going to face dangers, some might perhaps lose their lives, but as one of the boys had said here a few nights ago there was no more glorious death than to die fighting for the right.” On behalf of the district, the Mayor of Geraldine wished them “God speed,” a good time as soldiers, and a safe return to their native land and their district; if it should be their luck to go to “Blighty” they would get a good time there. The men were lined up in the street, and, headed by the Temuka Brass Band, a procession was formed and marched to the station. “Mr Torepe’s Maori singing company sang several farewell songs and the Band played a number of appropriate airs. The men were cheered again and again, and as the train left the station the soldiers on board were cheered, and they warmly responded.”
Private W. J. Elsom actually embarked with the 28th Reinforcements (Canterbury Infantry Regiment), leaving for Plymouth by the Ulimaroa on 26 July 1917. Drafts 199 and 200, which were expected in late December 1918, were bringing home 55458 W. J. Elsom (Draft 199), of Macraes Flat, plus 23 officers, two nurses, a clergyman, and 790 more other ranks, as well as a supplementary roll of 13 additional names.
William James Elsom returned to South Canterbury, where he worked as a labourer. He died on 9 August 1965 at Timaru, but of Orari Gorge Road, Geraldine, and was buried at the Geraldine Cemetery, where his grave is marked with a services plaque. His next-of-kin at death was a sister in Dunedin.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [04 April 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [04 October 2021]; Geraldine Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [04 October 2021]; Temuka Leader, 19 April 1917, 29 May 1917, Timaru Herald, 29 May 1917, NZ Times, 12 December 1918, Dominion, 12 December 1918 (Papers Past) [04 October 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [04 October 2021]
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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