World War 1 Service:

Henry KNOX

The information below is from Henry's Defence Force Personnel Record, from Archives NZ.

Biographical Details

According to his History-Sheet, his occupation was Driver. His last New Zealand address was 8 Hall St, Newtown, Wellington. His religion was Roman Catholic (ie. "R/C") and his birth-date was 6-4-83 [6/4/1883], in Dunedin.

His next of kin was listed as his mother, Mrs. L. Knox, of 8 Hall St, Newtown, Wellington.

His Attestation was dated 9 December 1916, at Wellington. He gives his birth-place as Dunedin, on April 6 1883. His father was listed as William Knox, born in Woolich, England, and his mother as Lily Knox, born Talamor [sic; should probably be Tullamore, Co Offaly], Ireland. When asked about their length of residence in New Zealand, he says they had been here for forty years.

He gives his occupation as Driver, last residing at 8 Hall Str, Newtown, Wellington, and his employer was given as J. Campbell, Wellington.

He had passed the Fourth Educational Standard. He was single, and had no children or other dependents. He hadn't been imprisoned, and wasn't a member of any military force. However, he had three weeks in Garrison Artillery in Wellington, but was apparently "Medically Unfit".

He had been examined for the NZ Expeditionary Force in August 1916, and rejected as unfit on account of his "Chest Measurement".

His age was given as 32 years 7 months. His physical description is given as: 5 foot 3&half inches, 185lbs [83.91 Kg], chest measuring 29 inches (max: 30 inches), dark complexion, blue eyes, dark haired. His religious profession was Roman Catholic. His vision and hearing were normal. He was classed as "Fit".

Service Details

Henry had a chequered war service. His personnel file presents a confusing picture, with evidence of 2 enlistments, and 3 discharges.

A "Certificate of Discharge" of Private Henry Knox from the New Zealand Medical Corps is dated 11 December 1915 at Trentham Camp. Aged 31, he is "discharged in consequence of having been dismissed from the Expeditionary Force." His character is bluntly described as "BAD"! Oddly, there is no evidence with his file of the enlistment to match this discharge.

There is, however, an Attestation Form, completed at enlistment, dated 9 December 1916, at Wellington. This represents the beginning of his second 'period of service'.

He was assigned the service number 45603 and assigned to the NZ Rifle Brigade, and became part of the 25th Reinforcements. He served 180 days in NZ, 2 years 205 days overseas, for a total of 3 years 20 days. His service dates from 23 January 1917, and he was discharged on 11 February 1920. The period overseas was spent in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force during 1917 & 1918.

Henry had a chequered war service. Many of the hand-written entries in his file are hard to decipher, and to make sense of. However, they are brought into sharp relief by 2 pages of typescript which constitute "voluntary statements" by Henry:

Voluntary statement of No 45603 Private H.Knox N.Z.Rifle Brigade"

I No 45603 Private H.Knox of the N.Z.Rifle Brigade, 25th Reinforcements, now stationed at Sling Camp, Bulford, make this statement voluntarily.

I sailed from Wellington with a New Zealand transport and called at Sydney for the purpose of loading coal. We were there for about 14 days and during that time we were stationed at Liverpool Camp.

One evening I went on leave and returning to camp, the main guard informed me my reinforcements had gone aboard the transport, so I made my way to Sydney to report on board, and was arrested by the Australian Military Police on my way for not having a pass.

They detained me and brought me before the Assistant Provost Marshal, who ordered me to be escorted to Melbourne to join the transport.

On the way to Melbourne I met a returned soldier who was on the same train, he invited me to have a drink. I got drunk and as the escort was asleep on arrival at Melbourne I walked off the train not knowing what I was doing. I was in Melbourne for about 7 months.

I then surrendered myself to the Australian Military Police. I was detained for 7 days and put aboard the Australian Transport "India" en route for England."

We landed at Southampton and I was escorted to Sling Camp, on the second of January 1918."

Statement made and signed ... this 3rd day of February in the year One Thousand , nine hundred, and eighteen.

A second statement follows:

Supplementary statement made voluntarily by No 45603 Private H. Knox 25th Reinforcements, now stationed at Sling Camp.

After being warned that any statement made by him might be used as evidence against him.

I left New Zealand with the 25th Reinforcements on the Transport Turikina [sic: Turakina] (HMNZ T284). We left Wellington on April 21st 1917.

After leaving my ship in Sydney, I was arrested in that City on May 9th 1917. Under escort I arrived in Melbourne on 10th May 1917 and escaped as detailed in my previous statement. I was dressed in denims and overcoat and had puttees, boots, singlet and shirt.

I stayed with my cousin, William Brown, Peel Street, K[?], Melbourne for some weeks. I then took off my denims and overcoat and put on civilian clothes. I do not know where the denims and other Government property went to. I obtained employment at Eck's Brewery, South Yarra, Melbourne and worked there for some time in civilian clothes. I was not in good health and became ill with Gastritis, as soon as I recovered I gave myself up voluntarily. I suffered from Gastritis while on the Australian Transport and was in hospital on that vessel for some days. I received no pay while on the Australian Transport.

The statement is dated 17 February, 1918.

As a footnote, there is a note from Lieut-Colonel, O.C. HMAT Indurra, dated 3 December 1918 at Australian Camp, Suez, which reads:

I hereby certify at No 45603 Private Henry Knox, New Zealand Detail of the 25th Reinfts NZ Mounted Rifles, now attached to 32nd Reinfts, was apprehended by the military Police in Suez on 1/1/18 and charged with the following offences:-
"When on active service. (1) Drunkeness (2) being in town without a pass (3) diobedience of the G.R.O no 211 dated 16.10/16. i.e. failing to to wear Identity Disc. I found him guilty of charge 1 and 2 and awarded him 48 hours F.P. No 2. Of the 3rd charge I found him not Guilty.

Awards

He was awarded the British War Medal 1914-19 and the Victory Medal. These were sent to him at Soldier Settlement, Nai Nai, Lower Hutt in September 1924.

British War MedalBritish War Medal
Victory MedalVictory Medal

But Henry wasn't finished yet.

On 15 January 1940, he enlisted again and attested for "temporary service".

He gave his birth-date as 6-4-1884, although his earlier enlistment said he was born in 1883. His address was 8 Cardell St Wellington, and said his occupation was Waiter. His next of kin was his brother, residing at the same address.

His medical examination provides details which are very similar to those of the examination in 1917, although his weight is given as 6 stone 8 lbs [53.52 Kg], and his hair is now grey. His physical development is described as "very slight" and his occupation as "labourer".

He was classed as Grade T - Fit for Home Defence or for Temporary Service in New Zealand.

His service Number was 411010. His History Sheet has a second (updated) address for him of John St, Park Vale, Eketahuna.

His WW1 behaviours continued in this period of service. On 12 February he was fined for Drunkeness, and again on 24 October. He was then transferred to Hospital, before being discharged 20 November 1940 as no longer fit for Military Service.