8/821 Corporal William Edward Earp
The Earp family possibly originated in Shropshire, England but in the 1860’s William’s grandfather William and family immigrated to New Zealand on the ‘Patsey Dawson.’[i] The family settled in Tawa Flat with William as a land owner able to nominate, in 1869, two members to represent Porirua in the Provincial Council.[ii]
Edward William Earp farmed in Tawa Flat with his father and married, in 1889, Lizzie Lindsay Shand.
The couple would have six children, four girls and two boys with their eldest son William Edward Earp being born at Tawa Flat in 1893. William attended Tawa Flat School, the Terrace School in Wellington and then Wellington College.
On 14th August 1914 William Edward Earp enlisted in the New Zealand Army, his papers note that he was an accountant working for Miller & Ahearne, Wellington. William possibly because of his three years service in the Territorial’s, 5th (Wellington) Regiment became 8/821 Corporal Earp, 14th (South Otago) Company, Otago Infantry Battalion.[iii] Corporal Earp sailed, on 18th October 1914, with the Otago Infantry Battalion part of the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
In Egypt the NZEF began training for the Dardanelles and the Otago Infantry landed 25/26th April 1915 at ANZAC Cove. Initially the Otago Infantry were held in reserve then moved to defensive lines but the key to the ANZAC position was a hill, Baby 700, and the capture of this position would force the Turks back onto Third Ridge and give the besieged in ANZAC Cove much needed breathing space and allow them to go onto the offensive.[iv] The Otago’s were part of the forces committed on 2nd May 1915 but due to a number of delays they ended up attacking in daylight against prepared Turkish forces. The result was a disaster for with the Otagos as they and other Allied troops were forced back from Baby 700 to their original positions. ‘No complete account exists of the losses suffered by Otago in this attack. The War Diary records five offices wounded, eight missing, 11 men killed, 174 wounded and 208 missing, leaving a strength of 365 out of 800 who went into the attack. But in truth the Otagos never knew how many were lost.’[v]
Corporal William Earp is listed as being killed in action on 2nd May 1915 and another Porirua man also with the 14th South Otago Company 8/809 Private Kenneth (Ken) Boulton from Paremata was killed in the same attack. Both Corporal Earp and Private Boulton are commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli.
Allan Dodson – February 2015
The Earp family home in Tawa Flat was known ‘Boscobel’ which is a small parish in Shropshire, England.
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 8/821 Corporal William Edward Earp
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 8/809 Private Kenneth Henry Boulton
Puglsley, C. (1998). Gallipoli The New Zealand Story: Reed
Auckland Weekly News: Corporal W E Earp, Otago Infantry Battalion, Killed in Action.
[i] Evening Post 1st August 1932: The death of Mr Edward William Earp
[ii] Evening Post 15th June 1869: The nomination of two members to represent Porirua
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 8/821 Corporal William Edward Earp
[iv] Puglsley - The New Zealand Story; pg 173
[v] Puglsley – The New Zealand Story; pg 184