DUNSMUIR, Walter Kirkwood
(Service number 38909)

Aliases Believed born Kirkwood Archibald DEANS; aka Kenneth DUNSMURE
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 21 November 1884 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 18 October 1916 Age 31 years
Address at Enlistment Makikihi
Occupation Boiler maker
Previous Military Experience Volunteers - left district
Marital Status Married. Two children
Next of Kin Mrs Lavinia Edith DUNSMUIR (wife), 82 Macandrew Road, South Dunedin
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 23rd Reinforcements, Specialist Company, Machine-Gun Section
Date 2 April 1917
Transport Corinthic
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Machine Gun Corps

Military Awards

Service Medals 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 24 April 1919 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Farm hand; butcher; nurseryman


Date 26 December 1965 Age 81 years
Place of Death Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch
Notices Press, 28 December 1965
Memorial or Cemetery Waimairi Cemetery, Christchurch
Memorial Reference Block PR9, Plot 49
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Walter Kirkwood Dunsmuir was born on 21 November 1883 in Ireland, the son of Charles Dunsmuir and Elizabeth Watson, he declared on attesting. The Ireland birthplace is very unlikely. It appears that he was born Kirkwood Archibald Deans, on 21 November 1884 at Dunedin, the son of Charles Deans and his second wife, Elizabeth Muir née Watson. Charles Deans, his first wife Janet Steven (who died in 1879) and Elizabeth Muir Watson all hailed from Scotland. Kirkwood Deans was educated at Mt Cargill School and Dunedin Normal School. Walter Dunsmuir married Lavinia Edith Smith, who was more than ten years younger than Walter, on 14 August 1913 at Invercargill. Five children were born to Walter and Lavinia – Eileen Edith Dunsmuir was born on 19 December 1912 at Invercargill; Emily Maud Dunsmuir (known as Maud or Maudie) was born on 16 July 1914 at Dunedin; Rubina Dunsmuir was born in 1915 at Dunedin and died at birth; Edih Doris Dunsmuir was born in 1922 in Southland and Colin Charles Kirkwood Dunsmuir was born in 1927 at Dunedin. Eileen entered Invercargill South School in 1918; she and Maud went to Tisbury School (Southland) in 1919. In 1921 both girls were admitted to Mt Nessing School (South Canterbury), leaving there later in the year for Balfour School.

Walter Kirkwood attested on 2 October 1916 at Timaru. He had previously served with the Volunteers until he “left the district”. He was a boiler maker for N. Geaney at Makikihi, and gave his address as Makikihi. His nominated next-of-kin was his wife – Mrs Lavina Edith Dunsmuir, 82 Macandrew Road, South Dunedin, or 253 Crinan Street, South Invercargill. Waimate’s quota for the 22nd Reinforcement was farewelled on 18 October 1916. The Brass and Pipe Bands “played the men to the station, where a large crowd was gathered.” The Deputy-Mayor wished them God-speed and a safe return. The Rev. Mr Morrison said that the war was not a picnic; it was a serious matter, before calling for three cheers for the boys, and another three for their mothers. The departing men, W. W. Vernon one of them, cheered as the train steamed out. Private W. K. Dunsmuir embarked with the Specialist Company, Machine-Gun Section, of the 23rd Reinforcements, departing for Plymouth, England, on 2 April 1917 by the “Corinthic”. Walter K. Dunsmuir returned to New Zealand, invalided, by Draft 175 (“Marama”) which arrived on 24 September 1918. He was discharged on 24 April 1919 and was awarded the the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The name of W. K. Dunsmuir appeared regularly on the Waimate Daily Advertiser Roll of Honour under the sub-title of Answered the Call.

Walter and Lavinia lived variously at Invercargill, St Patricks (Southland), Caroline (Southland) and Dunedin. He was farm hand, a butcher, a nurseryman. In the early 1940s he was in Dunedin, without Lavinia. Lavinia went to court in July 1938 over a dispute with her son-in-law about her furniture. It was stated that “the trouble had begun some two years ago when the plaintiff (Lavinia) had proceeded against her husband for separation and maintenance. She had agreed to allocate certain furniture to Dunsmuir, and this had been stored in one part of the house. . . . . The plaintiff and her husband had a reconciliation, and lived together for a time at Anderson’s Bay, but eventually the plaintiff ordered Dunsmuir from the house. . . . . . Walter Kirkwood Dunsmuir testified to the division of the furniture between himself and his wife.” A decree nisi was ranted in the divorce petition of Walter Dunsmuir v. Lavinia Edith Dunsmuir, and a decree absolute in September following.

Walter Kirkwood Dunsmuir died on 26 December 1965 at Christchurch, as was advised to the Defence Department. Archives NZ noted in his personnel file identification “a.k.a. Kenneth Dunsmure”. The death registration, death notice and cemetery headstone all record Kenneth Dunsmure, who died on 26 December 1965, aged 81 years. Kenneth Dunsmure had married Emily Gordon Scott in 1944. From 1946, the electoral rolls recorded Kenneth and Emily Gordon Dunsmure. A further intrigue occurs in the death notice for Kenneth Dunsmure – 5/52, Main Body. These details belong to Alexander Watson Deans, an older brother of Kirkwood Archibald Deans, who also served in the war. Alexander died in 1938, the same service number recorded in his death notice. Did Kirkwood Archibald Deans live under two guises? It appears so. The only son of Walter and Lavinia died tragically in May 1953. While working on a gas main in Invercargill, he was overcome by gas and couldn’t be revived. Lavinia Edith Dunsmuir died in 1974 in Dunedin and was cremated as Lavinia Edith Smith.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [10 July 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 July 2022]; School Admissio records (Dunedin, Southland, South Canterbury & Gore branches NZSG) [22 July 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [22 July 2022]; Waimairi Cemeter headstone image (Fiind A Grave) [22 July 2022]; Waimairi Cemetery burial record (Christchurch City Council); Waimate Daily Advertiser, 18 October 1916, 30 May 1918, Otago Daily Times, 9 September 1918, 15 February 1938, 6 July 1938, 11 May 1944, 5 September 1944, 7 May 1953, Press, 28 December 1965 (Papers Past) [18 September 2019; 19 & 22 July 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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Not assigned.

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