3/97 Lance Corporal Wilfred Singleton - DCM, MID.
Wilfred Singleton was born in Hampstead, London on 13th December 1888. He was the second son of Alexander H Singleton. Wilfred’s father was the private secretary to Sir Julius Wernher, 1st Baronet who, prior to his death in 1911, was the richest man in the United Kingdom.[i]
|Wilfred served with the London Rifle Brigade Volunteers for three years and this military service was only terminated when Wilfred sailed for New Zealand in 1909/10.[ii] In the five years prior to the outbreak of war Wilfred was employed on farms and in dairy factories. When he enlisted in 1914 Wilfred was employed as a farmer and dairyman at the Porirua Mental Hospital. Wilfred also played soccer as a member of Porirua Mental Hospital team.[iii]|
On 11th August 1914 Wilfred Singleton enlisted as 3/97 Private Wilfred Singleton, Field Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corp (NZMC). He was listed as being fit, 6’ 2” tall, with fair complexion, blue eyes and black hair.[iv]
3/97 Lance Corporal Wilfred Singleton DCM
(Auckland Weekly News 1915)
On 14th October 1915 Private Singleton left for overseas service with the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). In Egypt and prior to sailing for the Dardanelles, Private Singleton was promoted to Lance Corporal.[v]
The Field Ambulance landed with the fighting troops on the 25th April 1915 at Anzac Cove. The official report on New Zealand Medicals Services notes on 27th April 1915, the third day of the landings:[vi]
“There was heavy rifle and machine gun fire most of the day on the ridge. The field ambulance bearers experienced great difficulty in clearing the wounded: there had been some rain during the night, which made the track exceedingly treacherous'; the wounded had to be carried down on improvised stretchers made of rifles and putties, or lowered or glissaded down on oil sheets. The field ambulance parties had valuable assistance from all R.M.O's (Regimental Medical Officers) and their water duty men who were assisting, of these, Cpl. Singleton, N.Z.M.C., with McKillop and Cpl. Steedman (notes), N.Z.M.C. with Home, particularly, were conspicuous in getting the wounded out of the shallow trenches at considerable risk. Both corporals had the D.C.M. for this work.
Lance Corporal Singleton’s actions were mentioned in dispatches (MID) on 20th May 1915 from General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
Further recognition of Lance Corporal Singleton’s service was made with notification in the London Gazette, 3 June 1915[vii] of the awarding of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).
‘From April 25th until 5th May 1915, during operations near Kapa Tepe (ANZAC Cove), for exceptionally gallant work and devotion under heavy fire.’
ANZAC Cove April 1915
(Allan Dodson collection)
The official report on Medical Services for June 1915 noted:[viii]
“No water carts had so far been landed, and no wells of any importance located. In some the water was brackish, others early polluted during the heavy fighting. The main source of supply was from barges arriving daily at the beach, from which the water was pumped into troughs, and later tanks. The water duty men of battalions were mainly used as medical orderlies to the R.M.O., as they had no water-purification duties to perform; some of them were employed as supervisors of sanitary work—in either capacity the N.Z.M.C. details attached to battalions were most useful to the R.M.O.'s One of these, L/Cpl. Singleton, D.C.M., already referred to as doing good work on Walker's Ridge in April, while standing just outside the main dressing station on June 24th sustained a wound in the back, penetrating the abdomen. On the 24th June 1915 L/Corporal Singleton was evacuated to the hospital ship HMHS Garson with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.”
11/24 Trooper Hector Craw, Wellington Mounted Rifles, noted in his diary on 25th June 1915:[ix]
“Thirty men wounded & two killed down at HQ by shrapnel, one shell wounded 174 killed two. At eleven o’clock tonight going sapping Turk trenches within a few yard of one another came back at 7 o’clock.”
3/97 Lance Corporal Wilfred Singleton was evacuated to the hospital ship HMHS Garson but died on 26 June 1915 and was buried at sea, off ANZAC Cove Gallipoli.[x] He is remembered on the Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey.
Wilfred Singleton’s medals and memorial plaque were sent to his father A H Singleton, 1 London Wall Building, London.
Distinguished Conduct Medal DCM
Allan Dodson – October 2014
McKillop – 3/43 Major A C McKillop NZMC (ex Porirua Hospital). Read previous ANZAC story about McKillop.
Steedman – 3/447 Corporal A B Steedman NZMC
Craw – 11/24 Trooper E H D Craw killed in the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Plimmerton connection see story Somme House. A more detailed story of 11/24 Trooper Craw at Gallipoli is being prepared.
3/79 Lance Corporal W Singleton: Military Files – Archives New Zealand
NZ Electronic Text Collection (NZETC) : The New Zealand Medical Services in the Great War 1914 - 1919
3/79 : Lance Corporal Wilfred Singleton DCM: Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1915
1915 ANZAC Cove –postcard dated July 1915: Allan Dodson collection
[i] Sir Julius Wernher: Wikipedia
[ii] 3/97 Lance Corporal W Singleton: Military Files – Archives New Zealand
[iii] Footballers at the Front: Evening Post 16 March 1915
[iv] 3/97 Lance Corporal W Singleton: Military Files – Archives New Zealand
[v] 3/97 Lance Corporal W Singleton: Military Files – Archives New Zealand
[vi] P41 The Third Day April 27th : The NZ Medical Services in the Great War 1914 – 1919 (NZETC)
[vii] Lance Corporal Singleton DCM; Supplementary to London Gazette, page 5332, 3 June 1915
[viii]P58 The Third Day April 27th : The NZ Medical Services in the Great War 1914 – 1919 (NZETC)
[ix] 1915 Diary of 11/24 Trooper Eric Hector Dunstan Craw: Craw family archives
[x] 3/97 Lance Corporal W Singleton: Military Files – Archives New Zealand