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All Blacks line up in NZDF files

October 9, 2009

The military details of some former All Blacks who died in World War One are contained in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel records now available on Archives New Zealand’s online search engine Archway.
 
Thirteen former All Blacks were killed in World War One — four of them within a fortnight in June 1917 when the New Zealand Division took part in the assault on the Messines ridge.
 
The most famous former All Black to lose his life during the war was Dave Gallaher, who captained the All Black Originals on their 1905-06 tour of Britain, France and North America. Gallaher was mortally wounded during the attack on Gravenstafel Spur and died a few hours later. He is buried at Nine Elms Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium.
 
The Gallaher Shield, awarded to the winner of Auckland’s premier club competition since 1922 and the Dave Gallaher Cup, awarded to the winner of the first rugby test between New Zealand and France in each calendar year since 2000, were both named in his honour.
 
The personnel records contain such information as next of kin, a summary of the date of enlistment, embarkation and discharge dates and length of service spent at home and overseas. They also record an individual’s postings to military units as well as promotions, medal entitlements, decorations and any gratuity payments made to them or their families after the war. Marriage and children’s details are also often recorded.
 
Archives Support Assistant (ASA) Norm Gough is in charge of the daily process of digitising the files. He says there are approximately 4600 of the 128,000 files now online.
 
“This has been a good learning curve for the staff involved in the project. It’s been a great effort and we have had good feedback. It means the department will provide a much improved customer service for people wanting to access these files,” said Norm.
To view NZDF personnel records go to Archway and enter ‘digitised record (surname)’ into the search function.

The NZDF personnel records available to view on Archway are for the following former All Blacks:
Albert Downing died 8 August 1915 at Gallipoli, aged 29 (26 matches for the All Blacks)
Henry Dewar, died 19 August 1915 at Gallipoli, aged 31 (16 matches for the All Blacks)
Frank Wilson, died 19 September 1916 at Somme, aged 31 (2 matches for the All Blacks)
Robert Black, died 21 September 1916 at Somme, aged 23 (6 matches for the All Blacks)
George Sellars, died 7 June 1917, at Messines, aged 31 (15 matches for the All Blacks)
James Baird, died 7 June 1917, in France aged 23 (1 match for the All Blacks)
Reginald Taylor, died 20 June 1917, at Messines, aged 28 (2 matches for the All Blacks)
James McNeece, died 21 June 1917, at Messines, aged 31 (11 matches for the All Blacks)
Dave Gallaher, died 4 October 1917, at Passchendaele, aged 43 (36 matches for the All Blacks)
‘Jum’ Turtill, died 9 April 1918, in France, aged 38 (1 match for the All Blacks)
Eric Harper, died 30 April 1918, in Palestine, aged 40 (11 matches for the All Blacks)
Ernest Dodd, died 11 September 1918, in France, aged 38 (3 matches for the All Blacks)
Alex Ridland, died 5 November 1918, in France, aged 36 (6 matches for the All Blacks)