HENRY, Richard
(Service number 25/1167)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 29 October 1878 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 15 November 1915 Age 37 years
Address at Enlistment Pongaroa
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Richard HENRY (father), South Oamaru
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 3rd Battalion, B Company
Date 5 February 1916
Transport Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 3rd Battalion

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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 17 August 1916 Age 37 years
Place of Death France
Cause Died of disease - cerebro-spinal fever
Memorial or Cemetery Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France
Memorial Reference IV. A. 37
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Richard Henry was born on 29 October 1878 at Waimate (not 2 January 1875 as recorded in his servce record), the first-born of Richard and Martha (née O’Kane) Henry. Richard and Martha had married in 1877 in Ireland. Several children were born to them in New Zealand, possibly all boys, and not all registered. Children who appear to have been issue of the marriage are Richard, John, James, Joseph, Andrew, Michael. The births of James (1885), Joseph (1887) and Andrew (unnamed 1890) were registered at Oamaru. According to his war service record, Michael was born in 1888 at Oamaru. The fractious relationship of Richard and Martha Henry was evident in a court hearing at Waimate in February 1882. “Richard Henry appeared in answer to a summons for failing to provide adequate means of support for his wife. Martha Henry said she was the wife of defendant, and he did not supply her with sufficient means of support. He had been working several weeks at steady employment Defendant said be had given his wife 23s nine days previous to the date of the suinmons, and that he was doing all he could to support his wife and children. He had been working at Mr Douglas’ the last six weeks. In answer to the Bench, Sergesnt Ramsay said the complainant and defendant lived in quarrelsome state. He believed there were faults on both sides. The case was dismissed, the Bench cautioning both parties against continuing their quarrelsome conduct.”

At the Waimate Police Court on 26 February 1883, Richard Henry was charged with failing to provide for his wife and was remanded. In August he was charged with having used profane and obscene language. Althoungh he said he had been provoked and excited by the conduct of a woman he found in his house, he was found guilty and fined. The same Richard Henry was charged in the Oamaru Court in May 1884 with using abusive language and was fined. Martha Henry saw the inside of the court a few times in 1884. Further appearances were made in 1885 and 1886 by both Martha and Richard.

In May 1886 at the Oamaru Magistrate’s Court, “Richard Henry was charged by his wife, Martha, with assaulting and beating her on the 25th inst. Complainant stated that her husband came home in the morning and struck her in the face with his hand, knocking her down and blackening her eye. In answer to defendant prosecutrix denied being drunk and falling against the door, nor had she drunk a can of beer that day, she also denied breaking the broom over his head or thrusting a burning candle into his face. Hia Worsb/p said he considered the assault sufficiently proved. Evidently defendant was unable to put a proper restraint upon his actions, but this was a lesson he woold have to learn. Defendant was committed to seven days imprisonmenet with hard labor.” In September 1889, Martha Henry applied for a protection order against her husband Richard. “It appeared that there was an existing order under the Destitute Persons Act for Henry to pay his wife 10s a week for the support of his wife and children. The Magistrate granted an order for the protection of Mrs Henry's property and earnings, and also the exclusive custody of the five children of the marriage, and recommended the complainant to put in force the existing order for maintenance, and to apply to him in case of there being any default. The Magistrate also ordered the defendant to pay 7s Court costs.” In December following he was sued at the Courthouse “with failing to obey an order of the Court, made at the request of his wife, Martha Henry, for the support of herself and family.” The defendant paid £2 into Court, and the proceedings were adjourned.

At the Resident Magistrate's Court on 19 February 1892, “Richard Henry was charged with assau'ting his wife, Martha Henry, on tho 15th inst. Complainant said her husband had struck her twice with his fist and struck her on the arm with a piece of wood. He had thrown her outside, and ordered her away, else he would split her head open. Her husband had given her no money, although he had £3 15s in his pocket the other day. She had slept out two nights because of her husband's ill-treatment. She admitted having torn the hat produced, but it was owing to ill-treatment. Defendant said he had never ill-treated his wife. The Magistrate dismissed the case, instructing Sergt. O'Grady to have both parties watched, as they evidently required to be carefully looked after. If they misbehaved themselves the police were to report to him. During the hearing of a caso in the Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday, in which a wife was plaintiff and the husband defendant, the latter handed to the Magistrate a letter, which he said had been written by a neighbour who had a remarkably poor opinion of the woman as a neighbor. The Magistrate did not at the time open the letter, but when the case had been concluded he proceeded to do so, the defendant being a listener. The letter was somewhat as follows : “I beg to say that Richard Henry has an ill-tongue" — here the Magistrate paused, and Henry (who said he could not read) protested that there was some mistake, and left the Court under the impression that he had been “had.” The Magistrate continued reading when the defendant had left — “has an ill-tongued wife.” The defendant had probably hunted up the writer of the letter to ask him what he meant.”

The next case surfaced in the Dunedin City Police Court, in July 1892. “Richard Henry was charged with failing to provide his wifo with adequate means of support.. . . . . Martha Henry gave evidence at length, mentioning that she and her husband had been on bad terms ever since they had been married. He had turned her out of the home at Oamaru, and she had come straight to Dunedin, bringing the children with her. Her husband had said once that if she was not up before 5 o’clock in the morning he would cut her throat; he could only be hung for it. He got into prison for ill-treating her 10 years ago, just after they were married. He had been twice convicted for beating her, and got a couple of weeks each time. He had been ‘up” once or twice since, but witness had not evidence, and he got off. She did not feel safe living with him. He was excitable, and drank sometimes, but it was not that which caused the trouble.” The question was asked “if it was not a fact that once, when his client got iuto gaol, it was for breaking into a class of house that he did not approve of his wife going to. — Witness said she never went to any house at al, and in reply to the bench said she did not go to the class of house mentioned. – Richard Henry, the son (aged 13 years), also gave evidence, mentioning that the father had said he would not give them any food while the mother was with them. He used to keep the food in a box, aud this box he kept from them.”. . . . In addressing the court, the lawyer for the defendant said “that their tale was a very different oue. The woman had gone away from her home, leaving one child, and her husband could uot find where she had gone, or hear any tidings of her. The cause of the trouble had been that she always frequented places her husband did not approve of, and the trouble at Waimate was brought about through the husband breaking into a house to put her out. Defendant would tell the bench that the sentence was remitted. As for the cases at Oamaru, she was continually bringing cases against her husband. She had spent the eamings he gave her in beer. She went suddenly to Dunedin in order to bring a charge like the present one to make her husband support her. — Evidence was given by Richard Henry, and his Worship having decided not to take the evidence of a younger boy nine years of age (who, in answer to a question, said he had never heard of God), proceeded to give his decision. He said it was evident that the husband and wife were ill-suited to each other. The main fault was on the part of the wife, who, if she acted as a wife should and had done her work, she and her husband might have got ou very well together. With respect to a second charge of failing to maintain the children, his Worship said the father had a right to take them under his control if he wished. Both cases would be dismissed.”

From the mid 1890s, Richard and Martha seem to be apart. While Richard remained at Oamaru, Martha was found only twice registered on an eledtoral roll – in 1896 at Dunedin and in 1900 at Invercargill. Thereafter she is incognito. Andrew was at the Caversham Industrial School in 1894 and 1895 before being admitted to George Street School, Dunedin for a couple of years. This was the environment in which young Richard, and his siblings, grew up. Richard, junior, also had his day in court at Oamaru – in April 1890 for throwing stones, for which he was cautioned, and in October 1901 for threatening behaviour.

Richard Henry, junior, may have been a labourer at Makikihi and Waimate in the mid 1910s. He enlisted on 15 November 1915. His address was Pongaroa. A labourer for the Akitio County Council, single and Roman Catholic, he named his father as next-of-kin – Richard Henry, South Oamaru. Rifleman R. Henry embarked from Wellington on 5 February 1916 by the “Ulimaroa”, with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He disembarked at Suez, Egypt on 13 March and embarked at Alexandria for France on 9 July. Not six weeks later he was dead. On 16 August 1916 he was admitted to No 7 General Hospital, St Omer, dangerously ill with cerebro spinal fever. The next day he died, aged 37 years (38 was noted in two newspaper reports; 41 recorded elsewhere). Rifleman Richard Henry was buried in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France.

“Mr Richard Henry, South Oamaru has received word that his son, Richard, died on the 17th inst.. at St Omer Hospital from cerebro-spinal meningitis. Private Henry left with the 11th Reinforcements from Masterton. He was born at Waimate, and followed farming pursuits. He was 38 years of age.” [Waimate Daily Advertiser. 26 Aug 1916.] An almost identical report was published in the North Otago Times of 26 August 1916. His medals – British War Medal and victory Medal – were sent to his father at Oamaru, a swere the plaque and scroll.

From 26 August 1916, the name of Richard Henry appeared regularly on the Waimate Daily Advertiser Roll of Honour under the sub-title of The Supreme Sacrifice. Two brothers of Richard served in World War One – Michael Henry, who gave a birth date of 1888 at Oamaru, and Andrew Henry who was born in 1890 at Oamaru. Andrew named his father as next-of-kin, while Michael named Mr K. D. Henry, South Oamaru. These two embarked together with the Main Body. In early March 1920, Mr Richard Henry, of South Oamaru, wrote to Base Records seeking information regarding members of his family. The Officer in Charge was able to provide service numbers and other brief details for Michael, Andrew and Richard. The particulars given for James or John were, however, not sufficient to trace either. Richard Henry, senior, died in February 1933 and was buried at the Oamaru Old Cemetery. His son, Michael, who died in 1945, was buried with him. Andrew died in 1960 at Hamilton. His next-of-kin at death (Mrs V. Waddick) may have been a daughter of his mother Martha. A family tree suggests that Joseph married and died in 1957, buried at Timaru with his wife. By his Will, which was signed in 1929, Richard Henry, senior, bequeathed a section in South Oamaru to his son John, another to his son Andrew, and a third (with Hut included) to his son Michael. “Should any of my sons not turn up to claim their share of the property the same may be claimed by my son Michael after one year of my death.” His personal property was to be equally divided between his sons Michael and Andrew. There was no mention of Joseph who was born in 1887 at Oamaru, nor of James who was born in 1885 at Oamaru. Death registrations have not been identified in New Zealand for John, James and Joseph. The family appears to have consisted of six sons – Richard, John James, Joseph, Michael and Andrew.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [27 July 2022]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [27 July 2022]; Birth certificate details sighted [27 July 2022]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [27 July 2022]; Timaru Herald, 14 September 1882, 27 February 1883, 18 August 1883, Oamaru Mail, 12 May 1884, 28 May 1886, 28 October 1901, North Otago Times, 20 July 1885, 29 May 1886, 4 August 1887, 5 September 1889, 16 December 1889, 16 April 1890, 20 February 1892, Otago Daily Times, 13 July 1892, 11 February 1901, Dominion, 23 August 1916, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 26 August 1916 [x 2], 30 May 1918, Press, 26 August 1916, North Otago Times, 26 August 1916 (Papers Past) [18 September 2019; 27 July 2022]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC Genealogy Society

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