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17/54 Corporal James (Jim) Gardner

 

 

James was born in Pauatahanui on 10th November 1887 the eldest son of Elizabeth Ann (nee Boulton) and James Gardner.[i] James had two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

In the 1890 there were a number of Gardner’s livings in the Pauatahanui area with the ‘Gardner Brothers’ operating a saw mill in the area in the 1890’s.[ii] On the Boulton side of the family James’ grandfather had run one of the first hotels in Pauatahanui up to 1877 and then had retired to become a full time sheep farmer.[iii]

The is no direct information on what James Gardner worked at but tragedy would hit the family with the early death, at 44 years old, of James Gardner. James Gardner was buried at the Pauatahanui Cemetery. Elizabeth Anne and her five children left Pauatahanui at some stage after the death of her husband Jim’s younger brothers Ken who was born in 1895 does not appear in the 1908 photo of school children at Pauatahanui School.[iv]

On 29th October 1914 Jim Gardner a single farmer from Shannon enlisted in the Veterinary Corps of the New Zealand Expeditionary Corp and entered camp on the 20th November 1914 as 17/64 Trooper James Gardner, New Zealand Veterinary Corps. Following training and prior to departing for overseas service Trooper Gardner was promoted to Lance Corporal and sailed on the 14th December 1915 with the 2nd Reinforcements, NZ Veterinary Corp. Lance Corporal arrived in Egypt in January 1915. Lance Corporal Gardner remained with the forces in Egypt supporting the campaign in Egypt and Palestine against the Ottoman forces. Lance Corporal Gardner was prompted to Corporal Gardner on 21st March 1915

 
 

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17/64 Corporal James (Jim) Gardner, New Zealand Veterinary Corp – Egypt 1915

With the end of the Gallipoli campaign the NZEF reorganised before deployment to France.  Corporal Gardner was transferred, on 28th March 1916, from the NZVC to the 1st Machine Gun Company where he underwent a period of instruction on the Lewis Gun. Following training he was posted, to the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment which departed for France on 6th April 1916.

In France the New Zealand Division, of which the Auckland Infantry Battalion was part of, prepared for the Battle of the Somme. The New Zealand Division’s assaults were launched on the 1st July 1916.  During this battle, on 9th July 1916, 17/64 Corporal James Gardner, No 4 Lewis Gun Section, 1st Battalion Auckland Infantry suffered multiple gunshot wounds from which he died.

 
 

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17/64 Corporal James Gardner is buried in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery Armentieres (head stone on right above) and is also remembered on his parent’s grave in Pauatahanui (above left).

Jim was remembered by his younger sister Alice Margaret Butterworth who on the anniversary of his death inserted a in memoriam a in the newspapers up until 1945[v].

 
 

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James Gardner is also remembered on the St Albans Church, Pauatahanui, Honour Board of men from the district who served in World War One. Also listed in St Albans is Jim’s younger brother Ken Gardner.

 
 

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The Gardner's, left to right, Jim, Elizabeth Ann, Ken? and Alice Margaret.

Edward Kenneth (Ken) Gardner was 21 year old single man working as a Clerk in the Shannon Post and Telegraph Department when, on 7th March 1916, he enlisted. Ken entered Trentham Camp, on 6th March 1916 as 14607 Private Gardner and after training left New Zealand, on 26th June 1916, in B Company, 14th Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry. On arrival in England was posted as rifleman in the NZ Rifle Brigade reserves before being sent, on the 19th August 1916. In France Rifleman Gardner was posted, on 4th September 1916 to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade of the NZRB. While with this Company, Rifleman Gardner was sent to Lewis Gunner training before the upcoming Battle of Messines.[vi]

 
 

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Lewis Gun training at Sling.

On the 7th June 1917 a carefully planned assault began with the explosion of mines under the German lines. The 2nd and 3rd Rifle Brigades then left their trenches and advanced on Messines following behind a sequence of creeping barrage. The casualties were light with German artillery being disrupted and the first day objectives were taken. As the Germans recovered from the attack they proceeded to shell the newly captured areas in Messines and at this stage Rifleman was wounded. The report was that on the 7th June 1917 he was hit on the left side of his chest with shrapnel and was evacuated to the rear and then England. Rifleman Gardner was initially reported in July 1917 as seriously ill but slowly improved but his wounds were quickly assessed as preventing him from returning to active service so, on 7th July 1917, he was assessed as unfit and after convalescence left, on 16th November 1917, Liverpool for New Zealand. At sea aboard the ‘Ruahine’  Rifleman Gardner, on 17th December 1917, was again assessed and determined to be permanently unfit for service and would require three months leave before he would be able to take up Civilian employment. On 3rd February 1918 Rifleman Gardner was discharged from the NZEF ‘as being no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in Action.’ Ken Gardner returned to Shannon.

Edward Kenneth (Ken) Gardner died, on 16th November 1953, at Shannon.

Elizabeth Ann Gardner (nee Boulton) died in 1921 and is buried in the Pauatahanui Public Cemetery.

Allan Dodson – March 2015

 
 

References:

Helen Reilly (2013) Pauatahanui – a local history. Pauatahanui Residents Association

Archway Archives New Zealand-Military records:  17/64 Corporal James Gardner

Archway Archives New Zealand- Military records: 14607 Rifleman Edward Kenneth Gardner

 

Photos:

17/64 Corporal James Gardner: Kete Horowhenua – Adopt and Anzac

Gardner Family: Kete Horowhenua – Adopt an Anzac

Gardner family grave – Pauatahanui Public Cemetery: Allan Dodson

17/64 Corporal Gardner’s grave in France:

Otago Battalion receiving Lewis gun training at Sling Camp : ½-014038 Alexander Turnbull



[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military records: 17/64 Corporal James Gardner

[ii] Gardner Brothers: Pauatahanui-a local history: page 94

[iii] Boulton family: Pauatahanui-a local history: page 231

[iv] 1908 Pauatahanui School: Pataka

[v] Roll of Honour (9th July 1945) Evening Post.

[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military records: 14607 Rifleman Edward Kenneth Gardner 

 
Last Updated: 30/03/2015 3:12pm