CRAIGHEAD, Eugene Aloysius
(Service number 7/1810)

First Rank Sergeant Last Rank Lance Corporal


Date 15 August 1895 Place of Birth Lake Tekapo, Canterbury

Enlistment Information

Date 26 August 1915 Age 20 years
Address at Enlistment Royal Hotel, Waimate
Occupation Engineering student
Previous Military Experience First Canterbury Regiment - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Alex CRAIGHEAD (father), Royal Hotel, Waimate
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 8th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Transport Willochra or Tofua
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Mounted rifles

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 20 January 1918 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Hotelkeeper, hotel manager


Date 28 June 1961 Age 65 years
Place of Death Waimate
Notices Press, 29 June 1961
Memorial or Cemetery Waimairi Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block RC41, Plot 7
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Eugene Aloysius Craighead, known as Owen, was born on 5 August 1895 at Lake Tekapo, the elder son of Scotsman Aleander Craighead and his Irish wife, Annie née O’Sullivan. Alexander and Annie had married in 1894 at Waimate and initially kept a hotel at Lake Tekapo where their two sons were born. Next they took up the Rakaia Hotel. It was at Rakaia that their three daughters were born. In 1907 Mr and Mrs Craighead and their family moved to Waimate, and there they stayed. Eugene’s early education may well have been at the Rakaia Catholic School, which his brother attended. By 1908 Owen Craighead was a pupil at St Patrick’s School, Waimate, where he was awarded a Room I diligence prize. Secondary education was at St Patrick’s, Wellington. There, in 1909, he received a prize for “Four Mentions”. In Fourth Class A, he was recognised for next in merit in Latin (first division), German, arithmetic, and algebra and geometry. He was also placed next in merit in Music – pianoforte (second division). Further scholastic success came in 1910, including a Junior Debating Society prize, and in 1911. In November 1910, Eugene Craighead, Wellington, was successful in the Civil Service examinations. At St Patrick’s College, Owen Craighead was second in second-class arithmetic A in 1911. 1912 finished on a high note, Owen being honoured for next in merit in Form VI General Excellence in Class Work. He received the gold medal for Christian Doctrine, first prize for geometry and trigonometry, next in merit prizes for English, French, arithmetic and algebra, and mechanics and heat. Owen was also foremost in sports at St Patrick’s College. In the South Canterbury list published in January 1913, Owen Craighead came out 41st nationally in the Junior Civil Service passes, while his younger brother, William, came out 107th.

Eugene was an engineering student when he enlisted on 26 August 1915 at Trentham, giving his address as Royal Hotel, Waimate. He belonged to the First Canterbury Regiment. Single and Roman Catholic, he named his father as next-of-kin – Mr Alex Craighead, Royal Hotel, Waimate. E. O. Craighead left Waimate by the first express on Wednesday, 25 August 1915, for the Eight Reinforcements. A farewell dinner was given at Waimate on 27 October 1915 in honour of Owen Craighead as he prepared to leave for the Dardanelles. “Good-natured raillery, humorous and clever speeches, songs, recitations and stories, combined with an ample supply of everything necessary for the inner man, not to forget smoking requisites, were provided in abundance, and in every way the function was as successful as anything of the kind ever held in Waimate.” Several toasts were honoured. Owen was congratulated on volunteering, and also on getting his sergeant’s stripes so soon. He was handed a pair of ebony-backed military brushes as a token of the esteem in which he was held by all present. “Owen Craighead was a true sport and would do his part,” one speaker said. Mr A. Craighead said that “he was proud to see his son going away while he was sorry to part with him and only hoped that he would be able to hold up his end of the stick as the other New Zealanders had done.” An enjoyable evening closed with the National Anthem.

E. A. Craighead embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 8th Reinforcements. Lance-Corporal Craighead had arrived home at Waimate by late December 1917. A draft of invalided soldiers arrived in Wellington on 23 December 1917 – “Home for ‘Xmas”. “The men arrived in good fettle, many of them having been immensely benefited by the sea trip.” He was discharged on 20 January 1918 and awared the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The name of E. O. A. Craighead appeared regularly on the Waimate Daily Advertiser Roll of Honour under the sub-title of Answered the Call.

Eugene resumed his university studies. He married Rosabella (Tottie) McCormack on 15 September 1920 at St Mary’s Church, Manchester Street, Christchurch, in a fully choral ceremony with both Christchurch and Waimate priests officiating. Eugene was attended by his brother, William Craighead, as best man. His mother and three sisters were present. Sadly, his father had died on 14 July 1920 at his residence, the Royal Hotel, Waimate, after several months of illness. Eugene abandoned his studies to go back to Waimate and help his mother with the hotel. The Craighead family suffered immense more sadness within three years. Catherine, the second daughter, died at the Royal Hotel on 2 June 1923, aged 23 years. Catherine (Kathleen) had joined the Sacred Heart Convent in Sydney. She, however, took ill and had returned home, where she died just 20 hours after taking her vows. William Patrick, Eugene’s younger brother, who had also served in World War One, died on 3 July 1924 at Waimate, aged 27 years. His death was attributed to his war service, and he was accorded a military funeral. Mary (May), the youngest daughter, died on 5 April 1926 at Waimate, aged 24 years. Mrs Annie Craighead, a strong mother, a much respected hostess, and a devout Catholic, died on 8 December 1931 at Waimate, and was buried at the Waimate Cemetery, along with her husband, one son and two daughters who all died in their 20s. Funeral services for all were at St Patrick’s Church, Waimate.

Margaret (Madge), the eldest daughter, married in March 1931. Eugene and Rosabella kept the Royal Hotel at Waimate for some years, moving from there to the Leeston Hotel and then the Templeton Hotel, retiring to Christchurch. Rosabella died in 1958, and Eugene Owen Craighead died on 28 June 1961 at Waimate, aged 65 years. After a service at St Patrick’s Church, Waimate, he was buried at Waimairi Cemetery, Christchurch, with Rosabella who had died in 1958. Just days before his death, Eugene had been elected president of the Canterbury Bowling Club. His sister Margaret Knell died in 1975, aged 76 years, and her husband in 1976. They, too, are buried at Waimate. Nether Eugene nor Margaret had children. There are, therefore, no surviving descendants of Alexander and Annie Craighead.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 July 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [10 July 2022]; Waimairi Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG records) [13 July 2022]; Waimairi Cemetery burial record (Christchurch City Council) [13 July 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [14 July 2022]; Waimate Daily Advertiser, 21 December 1908, 20 December 1911, 24 January 1913, 21 August 1915, 28 October 1915, 27 December 1917, 30 May 1918, 15 July 1920, 2 June 1923, 3 & 4 July 1924, 6 April 1926, NZ Times, 9 December 1909, 19 January 1911, Evening Post, 9 December 1909, 10 December 1912, Dominion, 24 December 1917, Otago Witness, 2 January 1918, 8 July 1924, Evening Star, 15 July 1920, Timaru Herald, 16 July 1920, 4 June 1923, 4, 5 & 7 July 1924, 6 April 1926, 9 & 14 December 1931, NZ Tablet, 19 August 1920, 21 June 1923, Sun, 16 September 1920, Press, 4 July 1924, 6 April 1926, 29 June 1961 [x 2], Otago Daily Times, 4 July 1924, 6 April 1926 (Papers Past) [18 September 2019; 12, 13 & 15 July 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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