DRYSDALE, John Macdonald
(Service number 24/1030)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 25 January 1888 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 29 May 1915 Age 27 years
Address at Enlistment Levels
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin R. COLWELL (friend), Temuka (crossed out); Miss M. W. BROWNLIE, 58 Grace Street, Appleby, Invercargill
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 2nd Battalion
Unit, Squadron, or Ship D Company
Transport Tahiti
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Rifle Brigade

Military Awards

Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
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 3 April 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in Action. (gas-poisoning)

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 22 January 1960 Age 71 years
Place of Death
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 125, Plot 13
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John Macdonald Drysdale was born on 25 January 1888 at Timaru, the younger child and only son of John and Flora (née Macdonald) Drysdale, his birth registered simply as John Drysdale. John, senior, was born in 1838 in Fifeshire, Scotland, the eldest of John Drysdale and Mary White/Whyte. John and Mary with several sons and at least one daughter, migrated to New Zealand after 1861, their son John having perhaps preceded them. The family settled in Southland. John Drysdale (born 1838) had come to Timaru in about 1875 and married Flora Macdonald, who also hailed from Fifeshire, on 5 February 1886 at Timaru. Their daughter, Mary Drysdale, was born on 21 November 1886 and died on 28 February 1887, just three months old. Flora Drysdale died at their Church Street Timaru residence on 28 June 1889, when little John was just 17 months old. She was 37 years old.

Mr John Drysdale, who had for so many years been manager at Timaru for the well-known firm of agricultural implement makers, Messrs Reid and Gray, resigned his post at the beginning 1889 and intended to settle on his farm in Southland. “Mr Drysdale is well known to every farmer throughout South Canterbury, and under his able guidance and active personal supervision, the firm’s business has grown greatly, and become widely and most favourably known.” Prior to his departure he was entertained by about 20 old friends, the reunion having been arranged on the spur of the moment, “as they recognised that it would have taken a team of bullocks to drag their old friend to the usual formal gathering.”All spoke off his trustworthiness, his cheerfulness, his humour and his generosity.

John, junior, started his education at Invercargill South School in 1893, his guardian being William Brownlie, the husband of his aunt, Lilias née Drysdale. By 1911 John Macdonald Drysdale was a farm labourer at Washdyke. His father, John Drysdale, died on 25 August 1911 at the Invercargill Hospital, aged 73 years. He had been living at East Gore in retirement for a few years. He was buried at Timaru with Mary and Flora.

In late May 1915, men were “offering more freely” at Timaru. J. M. Drysdale, Levels, was one of those who had passed the medical test and had signed on to leave Timaru for Trentham by special train on 29 May. He was one of the men given a rousing farewell when they went north to the concentration camp at Trentham in late May 1915. After afternoon tea in the Drill Shed and an address by the Mayor, amidst much cheering from the crowds, they were played to the railway Station by the Regimental Band and joined recruits from the south (Invercargill, Dunedin and Oamaru) on a very long special troop train. John enlisted on 29 May 1915 at Trentham. Single and Presbyterian, he named a friend as next-of-kin – R. Colwell, Temuka, He also named Miss M. W. Brownlie, 58 Grace Street, Appleby, Invercargill. This was his cousin, Mary Whyte Brownlie. Rifleman J. M. Drysdale embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 2nd Battalion.

J. M. Drysdale, 24/1030, returned per Draft No. 130 which arried at Auckland on 3 January 1913. He was headed for Appleby, Invercargill. He was discharged on 3 April 1918. He married Agnes (Nancy) Barrowman in 1924. John died on 22 January 1960, aged 71 years, and was buried in Timaru Cemetery, a services plaque marking his grave. Agnes died in 1980. John and Agnes had two sons. His cousin, William Brownlie, who served with distinction with a British battalion, was killed in action in France in 1918.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 May 2022]; ]; Timaru Cemetery headstone images (Timaru District Council) [16 May 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [16 & 18 May 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [18 May 2022]; School Admission indexes (Southland Branch NZSG) [18 May 2022]; Southland Times, 7 September 1885, 26 & 29 August 1911, Timaru Herald, 25 February 1886, 13 January 1899, 7 February 1899, 26 & 31 May 1915, South Canterbury Times, 1 March 1887, 28 June 1889, 13 January 1899, 6 February 1899, Mataura Ensign, 29 August 1911, Dominion, 4 January 1918 (Papers Past) [14, 18 & 22 May 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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