Rolls of honour and obituaries

Page 5 – Public Service Journal obituaries 1915-18

These obituaries were published in the Public Service Journal from 1915-1918. In each case we've provided the person's full name, linked to their record on Auckland Museum's Cenotaph database, and a transcript of their obituary notice. Note H. Ffitch, J. McNiece, W. Rochfort and P. Skelly are not listed on the Public Service Roll of Honour as they were not officially employed by the Public Service Department at the time of their death.


Lance-Corporal Montague Bevel Atkinson

It is with regret that we have to record that one of our members has made the supreme sacrifice at the Front.  We refer to Lance-Corporal M. B. Atkinson who is reported to have been killed in action on the 6th June. Prior to his enlistment Mr. Atkinson was on the local staff of the Lands and Deeds Department, and although he was only  for  a  short time stationed at Invercargill, it was long enough for those of us who came in contact with him to  realise his sterling qualities. Sincere sympathy will be felt for his mother in her bereavement. Public Service Journal, 20 July 1916, p. 52.

Private William Edward Bradbury

This officer, whose death from wounds in France on the 3rd December last, has been reported, was the son of Mr. Edward S. Bradbury, of "Rolloven," North Brighton, Christchurch, and at the time of his death, was in his 23rd year. He joined the Christchurch Branch of the State Fire Insurance Office on the 24th July, 1911, and had only been a very short time at the front when he met his death. He is the first officer of the Department to lay down his life in the Great War, and his death, which removes a most promising and popular member of the staff, will be sincerely regretted by all those who were privileged to know him. Public Service Journal, 20 February 1918, p. 75.

Dallas Bertrand Campbell

Out of the twelve officers of the Public Trust Office staff in Auckland eligible for enlistment, ten have enlisted, of whom nine have gone on Active Service. Recently, by a happy chance, those who had left for the Front, all met in Egypt and held a reunion.  One has since been wounded, and by cable news came of the death of another-Dallas Bertrand Campbell-who was killed in action in France on the 13th June.  This young soldier was only 22 when he met his death.  He was an old Auckland Grammar School boy.  Upon leaving school he entered the teaching profession, but, preferring commercial pursuits, he subsequently obtained an appointment on the clerical staff of the Union Steamship Company at Auckland, voluntarily leaving this employment for a clerkship in the Public Trust Office, Auckland, in December, 1912. Upon the outbreak of the war, Campbell at once enlisted, and left immediately for Samoa with the first draft.  Returning from the Islands in April, 1915, he rejoined the Public Trust Office, but, in the following August, he again responded to the call of duty by reenlisting as a private, for service at the Front. His smartness and intelligence soon gained him promotion to Lance-Corporal, and, but for his untimely death, there is no doubt he would have earned a commission. His loss is keenly felt by his former colleagues, as he had a naturally bright and cheerful disposition, and a warm, generous nature. By his death, the Public Service loses a young officer of high character and great promise, as, apart from his admirable personal qualities, he was exceptionally capable, intelligent, and reliable. The deceased came from Coromandel where his parents still reside, and for whom the deepest sympathy will be felt in their sad bereavement. Their only solace now must be in the thought that when the call came, their boy cheerfully and instantly responded, not counting the cost, and devoutly gave his young life for his country. Public Service Journal, 20 July 1916, p. 81.

Sergeant Leonard Oswald Chamberlain

Sergt. L. O. Chamberlain, reported killed in action was an office of the Public Work Department, Wanganui, and left with one of the earliest Reinforcements. The sad news of his death will be received with sincere regret by all of his fellow associates, and we extend our deepest sympathy to his bereaved parents in their sad loss. Public Service Journal, 21 October 1918, p. 490.

Private Eric William Cobeldick

Private Eric William Cobeldick, Junior Gardener (Tourist and Health Resorts Department) Rotorua, who was killed in action in France on July 26, was born in South Canterbury and educated at St. Albans School Christchurch and Technical College. Prior to joining the Tourist Department at Rotorua he was in Messrs. Briscoe and Co.'s, Ltd., warehouse. He was of a bright, cheery, disposition, and a promising young athlete. While in camp at Trentham he won the gold medal for the Marathon Race, and at the Northumberland Fusiliers' Sports at the Base Camp in France he won the Open Mile Silver Cup, following this up at the N.Z. Sports later by winning three firsts in the distance races.  He was just 21 years of age, and the eldest son of Mr. W. Cobeldick, who is the Tourist Departmental Ranger for the Rotorua district. He left New Zealand with the 19th Reinforcements. Public Service Journal, 20 August 1917, p. 392.

Rifleman Leslie Percival Davison

Rifleman Leslie Percival Davison, the only son of Mr and Mrs. W. J. Davison, of Sockburn, died of wounds on August 26, aged 21 years. He joined the State Fire Office, Christchurch, as a cadet some four years ago, and was looked upon as a most promising officer whose natural ability would fit him for the highest positions. Of splendid physique he excelled in sports and was a very successful bowler for the Riccarton Senior Eleven. Among his friends and fellow workers he was admired for his sterling character and his generous and kindly nature. He enlisted on his twentieth birthday, but had to undergo an operation, from which he quickly recovered.  He left New Zealand with the 33rd Reinforcements, and was afterwards posted to the Rifle Brigade. He had been in France only a short time when he was wounded. Public Service Journal, 21 October 1918, p. 492.

Lieutenant Harry Herbert Ffitch

Lieut. Ffitch, who fell in the landing at the Dardanelles was at one time a member of the Service, having joined the Valuation Department, Wellington, on leaving school. After some months in Wellington he was transferred to Christchurch, but before completing his cadetship he resigned to enter the office of Messrs. Neill and Co., merchants.  Lieut. Ffitch is remembered in the Valuation Department as a thorough and conscientious worker, and the sacrifice of his life is in keeping with his character. Public Service Journal, 20 July, 1915, p. 34.

Private Thomas Lindsay Hazleton

Among those who died of wounds received at Flers was Warder Hazelton, of the Lyttelton Prison.  He left New Zealand with the 7th Reinforcements and served at Gallipoli.  Some three months ago he was reported wounded, and had not long rejoined his Company. Private Hazelton was born at Waimate, where his father still resides.  For several years he was employed at Christchurch, and was well-known there. Private Hazelton was a fine athlete and of very fine physique. He took a great interest in physical culture, and held the New Zealand championship.  His clean, manly life gained the respect of his fellow-officers, and he stood high in their esteem. Public Service Journal, 20 October 1916, p. 46-47. (Note surname misspelt in obituary).

Private John Kirkland

Private J.  Kirkland, reported died of wounds. The late Private Kirkland, manager's assistant, joined the staff of the Moumahaki Experimental Farm in January 1912, on his arrival from Scotland. His father, Mr. James Kirkland,  is  manager for  Messrs. Andrew Clements and Son, Glasgow, and prior to leaving Scotland Private Kirkland was on the staff of Clements and Son, being for some time attached to the Glasgow office.  He was a man of sterling qualities, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Public Service Journal, 20 September 1917, p. 445.

Gunner Ernest Portal Knight

We have to express our sorrow at receiving news of Gunner Knight having been killed in action a few days ago. Gunner Knight, at the time of enlisting was an assistant to the Clerk of Court, Nelson, and was a most popular member of the Service, besides being an all-round athlete. On the 3rd October the local Court adjourned for 10 minutes in respect to deceased. Mr. J. S. Evans, S.M., and Mr. Hayes, of the local Bar, paid tributes to the manly qualities of deceased, and their deep regret at his demise. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the relatives in their sad loss. Public Service Journal, 20 October 1916, p. 44.

Sergeant Douglas McDonald

The late Sergeant Douglas McLean McDonald was killed in action at the Dardanelles, was a son of Mr. Hugh McDonald, Castlecliff, Wanganui. He enlisted at Ashburton in the Main Expeditionary Force, being appointed a sergeant in the Mounted Regiment. He subsequently became attached to the Headquarters staff. After working for some years on a Government survey party, Sergeant McDonald joined the Christchurch branch of the Lands and Survey Department, and was assistant to Mr. Buckhurst, Crown Lands Ranger. For two years previous to enlisting, Mr. McDonald held the position of Crown Lands Ranger at Ashburton. He was a conscientious and popular officer, and will be greatly missed by his associates.
The late Sergeant McDonald served in no less than three contingents during the Boer War. At one time he was reported killed, but turned up shortly afterwards in New Zealand, to the surprise and delight of his friends. He received the King’s medal, the Queen’s medal, and two clasps for his services in the Boer War. Public Service Journal, 20 October, 1915, p. 52.

Private James Charles McGinley

It is with much regret that we have to record the following.
Private Jas. McGinley, accidentally killed, "Somewhere in France."  The late Private McGinley was only twenty-two years of age, and left New Zealand with the 21st Reinforcements. He was connected with the Wanganui office of the Public Trust Department prior to enlisting, and showed what promised to be a most successful career. Public Service Journal, 20 September 1917, p. 445.

Lance-Corporal Leslie Herbert McHarg

Lance-Corporal Leslie Herbert McHaig, killed in action on August 25, was the eldest son of Mr. J. T. McHaig, of Woolston. On leaving school he joined the Land and Deeds Department as a cadet, and remained with it at Christchurch until his enlistment on reaching the age of twenty years. He had a very successful scholastic career and passed the first section of the LL.B. degree before enlisting.  He was popular with and much respected by his fellow workers, and his death cuts short what promised to be a bright career. He left New Zealand with the 25th Reinforcements, attached to the Specialists Company and had been in France for some ten months. Public Service Journal, 21 October 1918, p. 492. (Note surname misspelt in obituary).

Ex-constable John Alexander McNiece

There was sincere sorrow among members of the Police Department in Invercargill when word was received that ex-constable John Alexander McNiece had died, in France, of wounds received whilst in action on October 15. From the day he entered the Force, on September 14, 1911, by his upright, genial nature, he won his way into the hearts of all his colleagues. It was characteristic of him that he could not remain inactive while others fought for him, and, though it entailed his resignation, he enlisted in the Expeditionary Force on December 8, 1916, was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and died, as he would have wished, fighting for all he held most honourable. Public Service Journal, 20 December 1917, p. 600-601.

Sapper Garland Oswald Morgan

The name of Sapper Morgan appeared in the list of those killed in action at the Dardanelles on the 11th May. Sapper Morgan was employed in the Pensions Officer at Christchurch, and was one of the earliest volunteers to join the Main Body.  About twenty-three years of age, he was the son of a Maori War veteran who now resides at Hawera.  Born and educated in Taranaki, Sapper Morgan joined the Postal Department on leaving school and some two years ago was transferred to the Pensions Department. He was a very promising young officer, and was also an athlete of some ability, having represented Taranaki in hockey.  As a swimmer he was well known and took a keen interest in life-saving work. His frank, pleasing personality and adventurous disposition made him a representative of whom the Service should be proud, and his death is deplored by everyone with whom he came in contact. Public Service Journal, 20 July, 1915, p. 34.

Private Robert Vining Parker

Advice has been received that Private R. V. Parker, formerly of the Lands Dept., was killed in action on December 21st.  He left as a sergeant with the 14th Reinforcements, but on arrival in England returned to the ranks, as other non-coms. had to  do. We have almost grown accustomed to reading of casualties by the million, but the death of one whom we have worked alongside and known intimately brings this deadly business right home to us.  Private Parker was a good sport, a good citizen, and he has died a good soldier, fighting for a great cause. Public Service Journal, 20 January 1917, p. 47.

Private Walter Rochfort

0n the 30th June news was received at Christchurch Lands and Survey Office of the death from wounds of Private Walter Rochfort, R. A. M. C. Private Rochfort was, up to  the time of his enlisting, a  draughtsman in the Survey· Office, and was a deservedly popular  officer. He joined the Department in 1906, but resigned in 1909 owing to ill health. On 1st November, 1912, he was reappointed as a temporary draughtsman.  Mr. Rochfort's religious convictions forbade him to take up arms, but being a young man with a keen sense of duty, he volunteered for ambulance work, and was accepted.  Before leaving for the front Mr. Rochfort wrote to the Public Service Commissioner asking that his position be kept open for him in the event of his return, and received a reply to the effect that the question of his reinstatement would be considered on his return.  Mr. Rochfort was considerably upset at this unfavourable and discouraging reply, but nevertheless did not swerve from his determination to do his duty, and he left for camp on the 24th May, 1915. Our sympathies go out to his widowed mother in her great sorrow. Public Service Journal, 20 July 1917, p. 341

Captain Percy William Skelley

Captain P. W. Skelley, who during last week was reported as having died of wounds, was well-known to a considerable section of the Public Service.  Until the advent of the Territorial system he was for a number of years a member of the staff of the Land and Income Tax Dept. Always an enthusiastic volunteer, he was one who richly deserved the chance of advancement that that extension of the Dominion’s military system offered. He straightaway received a commission, and later acted as area officer at various centres. Upon the outbreak of war he was attached to Defence Headquarters, and before he actually left for the Front was filling the important position of Assistant Adjutant-General.  A period in charge of Sling Camp was followed by his taking the field, and at his death he was acting Brigade-Major. We all deplore the loss of a man who was making such a forward move in his chosen profession, and hasten to express the utmost sympathy with his widow and little children in their trial.  Public Service Journal, 20 June 1918, p. 273.

Private Leslie James Stanley

Civil Servants of Canterbury will regret to bear that Private Leslie J. Stanley has been killed in action.  The late Private Stanley was, prior to leaving New Zealand on active service, in the Public Trust Office, where he was performing duties of an important nature.  He was very popular among his fellow officers, and an officer whose place in the Department will be hard to fill. Public Service Journal, 21 October 1918, p. 492.

Sergeant Ingelow P. D. Stocker

Sergeant Ingelow Penrose D[unbar]. Stocker (Canterbury Infantry Battalion, died of wounds, Dardanelles) was twenty-one years of age, and was the youngest son of Mr. Basil Stocker, of the Legislative Council staff, Wellington.  Prior to joining "A" Company of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, Sergeant Stocker was for about twelve months on the staff of the Supreme Court Christchurch, and prior to that he was on the staff of the Magistrate's Court, Wellington. Sergeant Stocker was educated at Waitaki High School and subsequently at Victoria College, where he was reading for the law.  He was a very keen Territorial, and at the time of enlisting was a Sergeant in "A" Company, 1st Canterbury Infantry Regiment.  He was also a prominent tennis player. Sergeant Stocker was appointed to lance-sergeant in the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, and on reaching Egypt was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Public Service Journal, 20 July, 1915, p. 14.

John Charles Thomson

It is with great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. J. C. Thomson, Junior, late of the Lands and Survey Dept., and a son of Mr. J. C. Thomson, the Member for Wallace.  Mr. Thomson, who had joined the Expeditionary Forces, left Invercargill for Featherston only three months ago, being then in excellent health. He fell ill when in camp, and died in the Greytown Military Hospital on 1st June. “Charlie” (as he was known) was well liked by his fellow officers in the Survey Dept., to whom his death came as a severe shock. The sincerest sympathy is felt for his parents in their bereavement.  He was buried at Riverton on Sunday, the 4th inst. with full military honours. Public Service Journal, 20 June 1916, p. 51.

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'Public Service Journal obituaries 1915-18', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 22-Apr-2016