Alfred George Glastonbury

Alfred George Glastonbury, No. 25860. New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Reserve). Died of disease, 5 December 1916.

Born in Canvastown, Marlborough in 1882 to parents Alfred and Matilda, Alfred George ‘Jack’ Glastonbury was the eldest son in a family of 14 children. The Glastonburys were well-known in the area and the blue-eyed and brown-haired Alfred was a pupil at the local school in Canvastown. In 1907 Alfred married Eliza Taylor. The couple had one son, also named Alfred, before Eliza died in December 1908. Alfred remarried a few years later in January 1911. He was to have a further two children with his new wife Minnie. The family lived in Ōhingaiti, north-east of Bulls, where Alfred worked as a surfaceman for the Railways Department.

After war broke out in 1914 Alfred remained in his job with the Railways Department until May 1916, when he took a leave of absence from work and enlisted aged 33. He joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Reserve) as a rifleman. Three of Alfred’s brothers were already serving overseas with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, but before Alfred could join them on the Western Front his younger brother Frank was killed in action.

Alfred left New Zealand with the 17th Reinforcements in late September 1916 and arrived in England in November. When he left he was reportedly ‘in the best of health, not knowing what sickness was’. [1] The doctor who examined him had even noted that he had never been absent from work through sickness or accident. Alfred’s health would soon change.

During the voyage over he suffered from influenza but recovered after several days. Within two weeks of his arrival at Sling Camp, Alfred had again fallen ill, this time with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). On 3 December 1916 he was admitted to No. 3 New Zealand General Hospital at Codford on Salisbury Plain. His condition was considered mild, but two days later he died.

With her husband’s death Minnie became a widowed mother of three children aged between four and eight. Alfred was not the only loved one she lost in the war – between August 1915 and July 1916 three of her brothers had died. Alfred is buried at Codford (St Mary) New Churchyard in Wiltshire and is remembered on both the Havelock and Ōhingaiti war memorials.   

Further information

Alfred Glastonbury Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record

Alfred Glastonbury Commonwealth War Graves Commission record

'Personal notes'Marlborough Express, 16 December 1916, p. 5 (Papers Past)

NZ Railways at war



[1] ‘Personal notes’, Marlborough Express, 16 December 1916, p. 5.

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