(Service number 21874)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Private


Date 15 January 1895 Place of Birth Edinburgh, Scotland

Enlistment Information

Date 4 May 1916 Age 21 years
Address at Enlistment Rocklands, Fairlie
Occupation Farm worker
Previous Military Experience Lothian & Border Horse, Scotland - 1 year - left Scotland
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Ann McALISTER (mother), 41 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
Religion Presbyterian
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 7th Reinforcements, 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 21 August 1916
Transport Mokoia
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With NZ Machine Gun Corps

Military Awards

Service Medals
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 18 April 1919 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 24 April 1965 Age 70 years
Place of Death Palmerston, Otago
Memorial or Cemetery Palmerston (Otago) Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 21, Plot 15
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James McAlister was born on 15 January 1895 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the son of Ann (Annie) McAlister and a fisherman father McAlister. Six-year-old James was a scholar at home at Leith, Midlothian, with his mother and two younger sisters in 1901. He had served with the Lothian and Border Horse, Scotland, for one year before leaving Scotland. On 4 May 1916, he enlisted with the New Zealand Forces for war service. He was a farm labourer at Rocklands, Fairlie. Single and Presbyterian, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Ann McAlister, 41 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Rifleman J. McAlister embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade of the 7th Reinforcements, departing for Plymouth, England, per the “Mokoia” on 21 August 1916. After servign for three years Private McAlister embarked on 3 February 1919 at Liverpool for the return to New Zealand per the “Athenic”. “Last week [May 1919] was a very busy one among the soldiers. A big social was held in the Public Hall [at Fairlie] on Thursday evening in honour of Privates . . . . . , Jas. McAlister, . . . . . , Troopers . . . . . . Several of the men could not be present owing to hospital duty, but it is hoped that they will attend at some future occasion. As usual the hall was bright with patriotic colours, and the floor was in good condition. . . . . . A bountiful supper was provided . . . . . During an interval the soldiers were paraded on the stage, and they received a vociferous volley of cheering. Mr C. J. Talbot, M.P., on behalf of the Reception Committee and the people of the district, gave them a very hearty welcome, and wished them prosperity in the future. . . . . . At the conclusion of the address the men were accorded musical honours and more cheers were given them. Dancing was continued till after midnight, and the men took the opportunity of renewing old friendships and making new acquaintances.” [Timaru Herald. 14 May 1919.] James McAlister may well have been one of those not present, possibly having gone further south.

James married Gladys Ellen Bateman in 1935. He may well have met Gladys at Fairlie, where her birth was registered and where she attended school. They had at least one son. They lived for many years in the vicinity of Palmerston, Otago, where James farmed. James McAlister died on 24 April 1965 at Palmerston, aged 70 years. He was buried in the Palmerston Cemetery. Gladys died on 2 November 2002 and was buried with James.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 December 2022]; 1901 Census return Scotland ( [21 December 2022]; Palmerston Cemetery headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [21 December 2022]; Otago Daily Times, 8 March 1919, Dominion, 8 March 1919, Timaru Herald, 14 May 1919, Mataura Ensign, 15 May 1919 [?] (Papers Past) [20 & 22 December 2022]

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Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC Genealogy Society

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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