Guide to Researching New Zealand WW1 Service Personnel
The New Zealand WW100 project will commemorate the start of World War One and the Plimmerton Residents' Association has committed major resources to commemorate Plimmerton’s involvement in both World War One and Two.
You may want to start your WW100 research project soon since next year there will be major pressure on New Zealand research facilities as people look to research servicemen and women. Now is an ideal time to find out more and the Plimmerton Residents' Association is prepared to help you with your research. Ideally we would like to publish any developed stories in the ANZAC section of our website

So how to start?
This month we will look at two common items that you may have – medals and photos.

At the end of World War One all servicemen and women, depending on service, were eligible for a variety of awards. All medals were individually engraved with; service number, rank (at the end of the war) and name, and the force in which they served.


A – New Zealand servicemen and women from 1914 to the 10th Reinforcements (March/April 1916) were given a regimental number, when they enlisted, and their own service number. This number would remain with the serviceman or woman through their enlistment. After March/April 1916 all personnel were given a service number only.

Regimental Numbers (1)

1/ Samoan Advance Force
2/ Royal New Zealand Artillery
3/ New Zealand Medical Corps
4/ New Zealand Engineers
5/ New Zealand Army Service Corps
6/ Canterbury Infantry
7/ Canterbury Mounted Rifles
8/ Otago Rifles
9/ Otago Mounted Rifles
10/ Wellington Rifles
11/ Wellington Mounted Rifles
12/ Auckland Rifles
13/ Auckland Mounted Rifles
14/ Army Service Corps Divisional Train
15/ New Zealand Expeditionary Force Headquarters Staff
16/ Maori Battalion
17/ New Zealand Veterinary Corps
18/ New Zealand Chaplains Department
19/ Samoan Relief Force, Infantry
20/ Samoan Relief Force, Mounted Rifles
21/ New Zealand Army Pay Corps
22/ New Zealand Nursing Service
23/ 1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
24/ 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
25/ 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade
26/ 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade

B – The final rank and name of the serviceman or woman when discharged from the NZEF.

C – NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force)

Often with medals are Honourable Discharge and NZ Returned Soldiers Association badges both will have a unique number but these are not related to a service number and there is presently no national database of these numbers. The Honourable Discharge badge is confirmed as issued to a New Zealander by the NZ preceding the number.

Potentially a lot of information can be obtained from a photograph. If the photo has been taken in a professional studio it could have the name of the photographer printed on the photo. This would enable a region in New Zealand to be identified. As examples: F N Jones was based in Nelson with Berry & Co was located in Wellington.
Specialists can identify from the makeup of the uniform the date of the era of the photo but more standard army items to look for are cap, collar and shoulder badges and indications of ranks.






If you send a high resolution photo of any World War One New Zealand serviceperson, to we may be able to assist with identification.

Next month we will look at a number of websites that can assist research.

Allan Dodson
July 2013.



(1) Orders, Decorations and Medals awarded to New Zealanders – an illustrated guide for Collectors: Geoffrey Oldhan & Brett Delahunt
(2) Badges and Insignia of the New Zealand Army: Geoffrey P Oldham



(1) 1914 – 1915 Star – Allan Dodson
(2) Honourable Discharge Badge – Allan Dodson
(3) 8/695 Private Frank Leslie Ross – Ross Family
(4) 27993 Private Frank Thomson and Margaret Thomson – Thomson Family
(5) 8/1429 Sergeant Harold Phillip James Childs – Palmerston North Library


Last Updated: 27/06/2013 6:01am