HAWKE, Henry Woodman
(Service number 7/1358)

Aliases Known as Harry
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Saddler


Date 1 December 1885 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 12 June 1915 Age 29 years
Address at Enlistment C/o E. J. Atwill, Waimate
Occupation Saddler
Previous Military Experience Waimate Rifles - 3 years
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Woodman HAWKE (father), Waimate, Canterbury
Religion Wesleyan
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 6th Reinforcement
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 14 August 1915
Transport Tofua
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

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 14 June 1916 Reason No longer physically fit for service, due to illness while in service

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

6 November 1915 - Zeitoun, Egypt - Admitted to NZ General Hospital, Cairo - Paratyphoid

Post-war Occupations

Plantation worker


Date 8 March 1919 Age 33 years
Place of Death Samarai Island, British New Guinea
Cause Blackwater fever
Notices Waimate Daily Advertiser, 12 March 1919; Lyttelton Times, 14 March 1919
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Henry Woodman Hawke, known as Harry, was born on 1 December 1885 at Waimate, the eldest son (of six children), born to Woodman and Elizabeth Ann (née Bateman) Hawke. He appears to have spent his early life in Mayfield, before the family moved to Waimate.

A saddler, single and Wesleyan, Harry enlisted in 1915. Two of Harry’s younger brothers also served in Wold War One – Alfred James Hawke and William Strudick Hawke. On enlistment Harry named his father as next-of-kin – Woodman Hawke, Waimate, Canterbury. Harry, it was also noted, had served with the Waimate Rifles. Trooper H. W. Hawke embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles of the 6th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Suez on 14 August 1915. At his medical examination, it was recorded “This man is in perfect physical health. He is a well-known footballer in this district.”

In late May 1915, when men were “offering [themselves] more freely” at Timaru. H. W. Hawke, Waimate, 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. Before leaving they were to be entertained at afternoon tea in the Drill Hall and then played to the Railway Station by the Regimental Band. Fifteen young men were entertained at Waimate prior to their departure for Trentham. The guests of the evening were assured that “they were not going on an ordinary adventure, but to fight for the existence of the Empire, and avenge the atrocities of Belgium and the Lusitania. Waimate was proud of them.” Mr H. Hawke, in replying to the toast on behalf of himself and fellow volunteers, said “they could not foresee their fate or the future, but they hoped to uphold the honour of their country, and bring back a record second to none, whether they gained Victoria Crosses or not.”

Intercessory services on behalf of the War were conducted at St Paul’s Methodist Church, Waimate on 1 August 1915. The “Roll of Honour” containing the names of those connected with the Church in the circuit who were with the colours was unveiled and the names read out. One of those names was Trooper H. W. Hawke. Later in the year the annual report of St Paul’s Sunday School, presented in December 1915, made reference to the many ex-scholars and teachers who had answered the Empire’s call for men and who were on active service. Among the names of former scholars appearing on the roll of honour was Harry Hawke.

On the 14 August 1915, Harry left along with 2362 other men in the 6th Reinforcements aboard HMNZT 28. (His Majesty’s New Zealand Transport). This consisted of two ships, the Tofua, and the Willochra. Harry was aboard the Tofua and was mentioned in the ship-board magazine “The Surcingle”. One referenced a funny quip made by Harry, while another records he was the winner of the on-board welter-weight boxing. See the story “The story of the photographs” by Brent Hopkins, attached below, for more details. Harry and his compatriots landed at Suez on 19 September 1915, before proceeding to Mudros to join the NZ Infantry Brigade there, after having been serving at Gallipoli. In November the Brigade returned to Gallipoli for the final few weeks of the campaign. It seems though that Harry himself may have remained behind in Egypt however.

In Egypt Harry was put to work in the “saddlers shop” at the main camp at Zeitoun, according to his own postcards home (again see the attached submission below entitled “The story of the photographs”). On 6 November, at Zeitoun, Harry was hospitalised with paratyphoid. Ill for three weeks, his military service overseas was to prove short-lived. On Boxing Day, 1915, Harry began his trip home on the Willochra, arriving on 29 January at Port Chalmers. After his arrival he was invalided closer to home, at Waimate Hospital. His father, Woodman Hawke, went south to meet his son, who returned by a special train from Dunedin on 30 January and was met at Studholme Junction by the deputy-mayor of Waimate. In May he underwent a medical board examination in Timaru and was discharged as medically unfit for service in June 1916.

In about 1917, Harry was appointed to a position on a plantation in New Guinea. Sadly, at Samarai Island, British New Guinea, on 8 March 1919 he died of blackwater fever. He was just 33 years old and had been expected to return before long. “So loved, so mourned.”

Many years later, in the mid-1980s, a curious teenage boy happened to retrieve an old wooden tea-chest from the North Taeri landfill. After some initial interest the papers and photographs in the chest, they were largely ignored until 2012. A renewed interest saw the now middle-aged man gradually uncover the background to the remaining material – and established that they related to the Hawke family and Harry. That research contributed to this story – and this voyage of discovery is told by Brent Hopkins in “The story of the photographs” attached below.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [16 May 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [16 May 2022]; Timaru Herald, 26 May 1915, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 28 May 1915, 2 August 1915, 13 December 1915, 19, 28 & 31 January 1916, 12 March 1919 [x 2], Otago Witness, 23 June 1915, Lyttelton Times, 14 March 1919, Otago Daily Times, 20 March 1919, Auckland Star, 25 March 1919 (Papers Past) [14, 16 & 17 May 2022]; SCRoll web submission by B Hopkins, 22 November 2022 (including personal reserach "The story of the photographs").

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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