Robert George Wetherall
Robert George Wetherall (Service No. 40855) was a First World War soldier with links to Heathcote.
Robert George Wetherall (known as George) was born in Prebbleton on 20 September 1885. He was the second of six sons and one of ten children to Robert John Wetherall, an Irish immigrant, and Robinia, an immigrant from Scotland. He began his education at nearby Ladbrooks School but after the Wetherall family moved to 26 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley, he attended Heathcote Valley School.
While George and his brother John had worked at the Heathcote maltworks, for the two and a half years prior to enlistment, George had been employed as a gardener in the valley, working for a F. King. He had previously served in the Highland Rifles but that the unit had since disbanded. His military personnel file described him as being 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, with fair hair and blue eyes.
Robert enlisted on 7 October 1916. Although single when he enlisted, he married Ivy Constance Pengally at St Michael’s Church in Christchurch on 3 January 1917 while on leave. They then took up residence at 50 Ely Street in central Christchurch. He was promoted to lance corporal on 13 February 1917.
Robert departed New Zealand on 14 March 1917 on the Ruapehu, arriving in Devonport in Devon, England, on 21 May 1917. He was however, hospitalised on board ship for fourteen days having succumbed to an outbreak of German measles.
His company left for France on the 21 June 1917, marching into camp at Étaples, France, two days later. George took ill with influenza on 6 July 1917 but was discharged to duty a week later. On 23 August 1917, he marched out to his division, joining the battle on 1 September 1917 where he was posted to A Company. His active service record reports that he was still with the unit on 6 August 1918, and that he had two weeks leave at the end of August.
Robert was wounded in action on 12 September 1918 and died from his wounds on the following day at the no.56 Casualty Clearing Station. He was buried in Grévillers British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. His grave reference is XIII. B. 15. He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Robert George Wetherall is remembered on the Heathcote War Memorial.
Robert George Wetherall. Military personnel file. Archives New Zealand.
Robert George Wetherall. Online cenotaph record. Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Roll of Honour, Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16328, 27 September 1918, p.1.