EMERY, Oliver
(Service number 38945)

First Rank Private Last Rank


Date 22 February 1891 Place of Birth Bitton, England

Enlistment Information

Date 18 October 1916 Age 25 years
Address at Enlistment Simpson Valley Mine Fras Pahang F.M.S.
Occupation Hydraulic miner
Previous Military Experience Pahang Civil Guard - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs W. UPCOTT (sister), Studholme Junction, New Zealand; then 21 Cross Street, Allenton, Ashburton; later Mrs A. A. EMERY (wife), 13 Church Street, Wootten Bassett, Wiltshire, England
Religion Church of England
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 21st Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 21 January 1917
Transport Ulimaroa
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Military Medal

Award Circumstances and Date

For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty - 1918

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 2 May 1919 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Surfaceman; labourer; crossing-keeper


Date 19 September 1953 Age 62 years
Place of Death Riccarton, Christchurch
Cause Result of accident
Notices Press, 21 September 1953
Memorial or Cemetery Christchurch Crematorium
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Oliver Emery was born on 22 February 1891 at Bitton, Somerset, England, the youngest child of Reuben and Emily (née Hayman) Emery. 1891 is recorded in the baptism, but the birth was registered at Keynsham, Somerset, in the January-March quarter of 1892. Oliver was baptised on 5 March 1892 at St Barnabas Church, Gloucestershire, where his siblings were also baptised. Reuben was a railway signalman and had married Emily in 1872. They had, altogether, nine sons and one daughter, some of the dying relatively young. Emily Emery died very early in 1892 and was buried at St Barnabas, Warmley. Not long after, Reuben married Mary Brain, by whom he had two more chldren. He died in 1931. In 1901 Oliver Emery was at Bristol, the “adopted son” of Sarah A. Day, a widow with several children of her own. Sarah was Oliver’s aunt, the sister of his mother. Sarah Ann Hayman had married Sylvester Day who died in 1898.

By 1911 Oliver Emery was a miner on New Zealand’s West Coast. 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, O. Emery one of them, cheered as the train steamed out. He enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 18 October 1916 at Timaru.He was serving with the Pahang Civil Guard. A hydraulic miner and single, he gave as his address Simpson Valley Mine, Fras Pahang F.M.S. His nominated next-of-kin was his sister – Mrs W. Upcott, Studholme Junction, New Zealand, and later of 21 Cross Street, Allenton, Ashburton. Mrs W. Upcott was, in fact, his cousin and adopted sister. Mary Louisa Day married William Henry Upcott in 1905 at Bristol, England. Their daughter, Hilda Mary Upcott, who was born in 1908 in England and was at home in England with her parents in 1911, attended Blucliffs School, South Canterbury, for eight months in 1913-1914. Another daughter and a son were born to William Henry and Mary Louisa Upcott in New Zealand, in 1916 and 1920 respectively. Mary and William were at Maryburn Station in the Mackenzie District later in 1914, William working as a ploughman, and in 1919 and 1922 they were at Allenton. William Henry Upcott, a farm labourer with two children, was listed on the 1916-1917 Reserve Rolls.

Private O. Emery embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 21st Reinforcements, departing for Plymouth, England, by the “Ulimaroa” on 21 January 1917. Oliver Emery, a soldier, married Agnes Annie Drury (née Rich) on 3 August 1918 at the Parish Church, Temple, Bristol, England. Thereafter, Mrs A. A. Emery (wife), 13 Church Street, Wootten Bassett, Wiltshire, was his next-of-kin. Henry John Day, a brother of Mary Louisa Day and cousin of Oliver, was a witness to the marriage, along with Agnes’ father. Agnes was a widow, whose first husband had died two years after their marriage. Their son, Frederick William Drury, who was born in 1913, came to New Zealand with his mother and died here in 1983.

A new list of awards issued on 26 October 1918 advised that Private Olive Emery, 38945, had been awarded the Military Medal. He was recognised for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Draft 214 (“Ruapehu”), which was due to arrive in New Zealand in February 1919, brought home 38945 Corporal O. Emery (M.M.), Studholme Junction. Oliver Emery was discharged on 2 May 1919 and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The name of O. Emery appeared regularly on the Waimate Daily Advertiser Roll of Honour under the sub-title of Answered the Call.

Oliver Emery died on 19 September 1953 at Riccarton, Christchurch, as the result of an accident. He was the crossing-keeper at the Lower Riccarton railway crossing and died there when he was struck by the Christchurch-Rangiora train. He was 60 years of age (not 63 as he believed) and was cremated at the Canterbury Crematorium. Agnes Annie Emery died on 8 July 1956 and was buried at Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch. In her Will, Annie named thei children – Kathleen Frances Pilbrow (born 1920 at Ashburton), Tuan Grainger Emery (Grainger being her father’s name; born 1922), Oliver Emery (born 1927), and her son Frederick William Drury. While the Upcotts returned to England, two others of Oliver’s cousins married and died in New Zealand – Dora Day married William Charrles Bell and Edith Harriet Day married Thomas Bevan Chandler.

Archives NZ has a digitised photograph of Corporal Oliver Emery – Military Medal.


Auckland War Memorial Museumm Cenotaph Database [05 July 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [08 & 19 July 2022]; Various England records - census returns; baptism, marriage & burial records ( [08 & 19 July 2022]; Free BDM [08 & 19 July 2022]; Waimate Daily Advertiser, 18 October 1916, 30 May 1918, Auckland Star, 7 November 1919, Dominion, 20 December 1918, NZ Times, 12 February 1919 Press, 21 September 1953 [x 2], 22 September 1953, 9 July 1956 (Papers Past) [18 September 2019; 19 July 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, Teresa Scott, South Canterbury Genealogy Society

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