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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Sapper James William Slaughter


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Dear All,

This is a bit of a long one, but I hope somebody can help.

I am trying to research the career of a chap from the Ashington area of Northumberland

who was wounded by a shell in 1918 while with the North Staffs.

I have been told he was given a weeks leave in March 1918 after his brother was killed, and that

his brother was called Billy (real name William) but I am having trouble locating him.

The closest I have is a Sapper James William Slaughter who was killed while with the New Zealand

Engineers on the 7th January 1918. The CWGC have him as the son of the late Matthew and Sarah

Slaughter; husband of the late Rachel Slaughter, of Morpeth. The fact that hi is married to a lady

from Morpeth would fit, as the rest of the family are from the Ashington area, and Morpeth is only

about 5 miles away.

The memorial at Morpeth also has a Sgt J. W. Slaughter listed which could be this man. There is

another J. W Slaughter listed on the Choppington Memorial (again only about 4 miles away) however

this chap is John William Slaughter who was killed on the 9th of April 1917 while serving with the

Northumberland Fusiliers that would put him a little to early.

I would really like to find out more about Sapper James William Slaughter to see if this is the

correct brother however I do not know how the New Zealand service records work. I also can not

understand how he can be listed as a New Zealander but married to a Morpeth lady.

Any help or suggestions would be great.

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There is a Sergeant with the following nominal roll details:


Given Name James William

Category Nominal Roll Vol. 2

Regimental Number 37546

Rank Sergeant

Next of Kin Title Mrs Rachel

Next of Kin Surname SLAUGHTER

Next of Kin Relationship Wife

Next of Kin Address 17 Manchester Street Morpeth Northumberland England

Roll Roll 45

Page Page 35

Occupation Miner

Is this him? If so I will take a look at his file for you.


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I think this must the brother of Edward Charles Slaughter.

Sparky53 sent me the service papers of Charles, and his father is

down as Matthew Slaughter, while the CWGC also have James William

Slaughters father down as Matthew.

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I have just had a look at the 1901 census (once again very kindly sent to me by Sparky53) and it seems that the household was made up of:

Matthew Slaughter Head 48

Gertrude Slaughter Wife 37

James W Slaughter Son 22

Jessa Slaughter Son 20

Francis H Slaughter Son 15

Hilda G Slaughter Daughter 3

Edward C. Slaughter Son 1

Ernest R Slaughter Son 4 months

It would seem to me that this is the correct James William Slaughter. However I am wondering if he might have actually

been a half brother to Edward. There seems to be a large gap between the children (12 years between Francis and Hilda).

There is also quite a gap between Matthew and Gertrude (11 years) which would mean that she was only 15 when she

had James. Also the CWGC have the mother of James as Sarah, so it would appear to me that they were half brothers

rather than full brothers. Could this be the reason he is down as being a New Zealander?

I suppose the papers might help when zack has had a look.


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Have just checked the census again (didn't think to look at the place of birth section)

and the three eldest sons were all born in Stoke Holy Cross Norfolk, so even more strange

about the New Zealand link

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I will take a look and get back to you.

The Great War 1914 - 1918 New Zealand Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour entry for James William Slaughter is:

Reg No: 37546

Rank: Spr

Unit: NZE

Particulars of casualty: Kia France 7/1/18

Page 270


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Some data from James William Slaughter's file for you. This file is 22 pages long with five forms of interest.


James William Slaughter was a forty year old married man at the time of enlistment who had been living in New Zealand for four years prior to joining the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company. He was 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, and he weighed 147 lb. He was of pale complexion (not surprising given he listed his occupation as a miner); colour of eyes was grey, and hair, brown. His teeth were described as “good.” He married Rachel Orde in the Morpeth Registers Office on July 8th 1901. He had two children under the age of 16 but neither of them is named in the file. His wife lived at 17 Manchester Street Morpeth Northumberland England. A mystery this man – why was he in New Zealand separated from his family? The file gives no insights into why.

In New Zealand on enlistment James was working for a Mr Dunn at Granity. Granity is a small town on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand so called by by gold prospectors, in reference to the large quantity of granite in in the area. It was a coal mining town. James was last living at Millerton a small settlement in the northwestern part of the West Coast region, another coal mining town which today is described as ghost town.

James left New Zealand on the troopship Maunganui (HMNZT No 68) as a member of the 19th Reinforcements. He had various ranks and served as a sergeant, and then as a temporary corporal. On arrival in England on 29 January 1917 he was stationed at Boscombe where he was a temporary corporal. He left for Etaples, France on 2 March 1917 and on 13 April 1917 he was posted as a sapper with the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company. He became ill a couple of times in France and was admitted to Field Ambulances – pleurisy and bronchitis – but on each occasion he returned to his unit. On the 7 January 1918 he was killed in action from shell fire. His wife Rachel was sent his medals.

He was 43 years old at this death.

File summary details:

1 History sheet

Name: James William Slaughter

No: 37546

Unit: 3rd Tunnelling Reinforcement

Killed in action 7 January 1918 in the field in Belgium

2 Attestation file

Born: Norfolk England

Date of birth: 12 Nov 1875

Father: Matthew

Mother: Sarah Ann

Both parents born Norfolk

Resident in New Zealand 4 years (at date of attestation)

Trade: Miner

Address last resided: Mine Creek Millerton

Last Employer: Mr Dunn - Granity

Status: Married

On enlistment he volunteered for 3rd Reft Tunneller

Attestation form is dated 2 October 1916 at Greymouth (South Island)

3 Medical

Apparent age: 41 years

Height: 5 feet 6½

Weight: 147 lb

Chest measurement: Minimum: 33 inches; maximum: 35 inches

Complexion: Pale

Colour of eyes: Grey

Colour of hair: Brown

Religious profession: Brown

Teeth: “Good”

Joined on enlistment: Tunneler 19th Reinforcements

Left New Zealand on HMNZT No 68 Maunganui on 15 November 1915 and arrived Plymouth on 29 January 1917. On board were the 19th Reinforcements (part of 2,036 troops). Interesting to note that the Auckland Cenotaph site records him as leaving on HMNZT No 69 Tahiti, which is incorrect.

He was inoculated against typhoid on the 2 and 7 November 1916.

He was in hospital for 14 days (4 Jan 1917 – 18 Jan 1917).

4 History Sheet

Wife: Mrs Rachel Slaughter 17 Manchester Street Morpeth Northumberland England

Particulars of marriage:

Woman’s Name: Rachel Orde

Date of marriage 8th July 1908

Place of marriage: Morpeth Registrars Office

Officiating Minister or Registrar: John Daivson (looks like spelling of name but could be Davison) Registrar / John F Donnelly Superintendent

Children under the age of 16: Two


Soldier’s name: Slaughter, James William

Reg No: 37546

Roll No 56784

Scroll despatched (Date) 14 July 1921

Plaque 20 March 1922

Recipient and address: Rachel Slaughter (wife) 17 Manchester Street Morpeth Northumberland England

5 Casualty Sheet

Enlisted: 2 Oct 1916

Service reckons from: 2 Oct 1916

Embarked: Wellington

Disembarked Devonport 29 Jan 1917

29 Jan 1917: Marched in Boscombe

30 Jan 1917: Reverts to Temp Corporal Boscombe

2 March 1917: Left Boscombe for France

4 March 1917: Marched into camp Etaples

8 March 1917: Detached to Division in the field

13 April 1917 Posted to strength as Sapper and relinquished Temp Appt of Corporal on joining unit in the field

24 August 1917: Evacuated to Field Ambulance suffering from pleurisy

28 August 1917: Transferred to No 38 Field Ambulance with pleurisy

17 September 1917: Admitted Field Ambulance suffering from bronchitis and discharged to unit in the field

17 September 1917: Rejoined unit from Field Ambulance

7 January 1918: Killed in action. Shell fire death report

Source reference:

Agency AABK

Series 18805

Accession W5553

Box / item 32

Record 0105602

Hope this is of some assistance to you.



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Thanks for looking it up. The information is great.

It's very odd about the New Zealand connection, however

I will ask Jim (his nephew) and see if he can add anything

as to why he was out in New Zealand and his wife was back

in Morpeth.


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Pleased to be able to assist you. I'd be interested in learning why he was in NZ and his wife in the UK too - as I said a real mystery but there will be family stories about it I'm sure.



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  • 1 month later...

I have been back to see the man who gave me the tape of Edward Charles Slaughter,

half brother of James William Slaughter. He knew they were only half brothers but was

surprised to hear he was killed while serving with the New Zealanders, and had no idea

he had been living in New Zealand.

I have also had another look at the CWGC stuff, and it states he was the husband of the late

Rachel and I was wondering if she may have died and that is why he left for New Zealand. This

would sort out the odd situation of why she was in England and he was in New Zealand. The only

thing that doesn't fit is the fact that the New Zealand records state his Plaque was sent to his wife.

Could they have made a mistake?


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I'm certain that that's what the file actually records. However, it may not have happened. It's also possible a mistake was made - I will check the file again. Dare I suggest that CWGC could have also made a mistake?


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Its very possoble. I will have to try and track down when his wife died

as that might sort it out.

It's all very odd. The man I have been talking to is very into his

family history and knew all about the family originally coming from

Norfolk, and the fact that Edward and James were half brothers, yet

he had no idea James was living in New Zealand or had been killed

with the New Zealanders.


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I carefully checked the file again. I wasn't totally accurate in my transcription - sorry!!

While the medals were clearly destined to go to his wife 'Rachel Slaughter' as I recorded from the file and there is no reference on the file as to whether or not this happened (as you might expect) the file does record that the scroll and plaque was sent to a “Mrs F Orde 17 Manchester Street Morpeth Northumberland England” on 14 July 1921 and 20 March 1922 respectively. Would this be Rachel’s mother?

Did you managed to trace when Rachel died?

It is perfectly clear that James William Slaughter was living and working in New Zealand so there is a gap in your man's research.

I photographed the entire file this time just to be sure! If you send me a PM of your address I will send it to you.



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Thanks for photographing the file. A copy would be great. I have sent

you my email address in a PM

I have not yet been able to check the date of death for his wife, but I was wondering

if it could eben have been a child and they have put mrs rather than miss by mistake.

I'll have to check it out.


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 8 years later...
On 21/01/2008 at 08:25, johnnie said:

I have been back to see the man who gave me the tape of Edward Charles Slaughter,

half brother of James William Slaughter. He knew they were only half brothers but was

surprised to hear he was killed while serving with the New Zealanders, and had no idea

he had been living in New Zealand.


I was fascinated to see this reference to a tape of Edward Charles Slaughter. He was a relation of mine and there is a bust of his head in Eton College's  Macnaghten Library of the First World War.


I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the tape and what it contains. 

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