Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Ralph Walter Harris NZEF


alliekiwi
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm searching for a man I think is another great uncle, however it's a bit tricky to tell without seeing the NOK since Harris is a very common surname. I can see on the NZ Archives that there is a file for this chap:

HARRIS, Ralph Walter - WW1 36111 - Army

The funny thing is that I can't find him on either the nominal roll or the cenotaph. I've tried seraching by service number, and still get nothing. Any ideas why that might be?

Allie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anyone have a copy of the book version of the nominal roll? I understand that the CDrom version may be incomplete. Perhaps Ralph Harris is one of the ones left off?

Allie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Allie

I can't see him on the paper roll, but then I have discovered many men that served with the NZEF who don't appear on the Nominal Roll. This is exclusive of the list of UK enlistees (both British Section and later recruits). It may pay to check british records (perhaps MIC's) and Australian on-line records to see if he transferred from that side of things. Of course the other possibilty is a chap who, for some reason, was enlisted but didn't end up serving overseas but who wasn't discharged and was employed locally. That is a longer shot, but possible.

Simple way to find out: get his file from Archives!

Interested to know the result of your research either way.

Cheers

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allie

I’ve checked your man’s file. It’s 11 pages long and in really very poor condition i.e. you can hardly read it! One of the worst I've come across!!

Ralph Walter Harris was a 34 year old labourer working for S J Toxward, Mangahua, Dannevirke. It looks like he was living with R W Harris, Private Bag Mangahua, Dannevirke. His father was Ralph Finnis(?) Harris, born in Cornwall UK and his mother was Mrs Kate Harris, born Melbourne, Victoria. The mother’s address is Maria Street, Onehunga, Auckland. Ralph was born in Auckland New Zealand on 29 March 1882. He attested on 2 November 1916 and was with the 25th NZ Mounted Rifles - Reg Number 36111. His service reckons from 2 January 1917. He is described as single, being 5 feet 4½ tall, blue eyed, brown haired, weighed 9 stone 10 lbs and his religious profession was Church of England. On 12 Feb 1917 there was an application supported by various people, including his mother, for his discharge - reasons not readable. The file also records that on 2nd May 1917 he was admitted to the Featherston Military Hospital - file records "pain on walking".

It is unlikely that he ever left New Zealand - there was some sort of medical problem and the file has an unreadable medical hearing on it. I've also checked the book version of the nominal rolls and he's not there - not a surprise as he probably never left NZ! Sorry but the file is so poor there is little else of much meaning to pick up – happy to email you the digital file.

Question is – is this man your man?

Cheers

Zack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, Phil, I didn't see your post on the thread!

Zack, thank you so much for taking a look at the file! The answer to 'is this your man' is... well, probably? But it doesn't all fit together.

The three brothers of my Ralph (whom I'm not even certain enlisted, but I was wondering if he had because he was the correct age-ish) are:

Surname HARRIS

Given Name Albert Ernest

Category Nominal Roll Vol. 2

Regimental Number 10595

Rank Gunner

Next of Kin Title Mrs C

Next of Kin Surname HARRIS

Next of Kin Relationship Mother

Next of Kin Address Catherine Street Onehunga

Roll 37

Page 27

Occupation Labourer

Surname HARRIS

Given Name Alfred

Category Nominal Roll Vol. 3

Regimental Number 10604

Rank Rifleman

Next of Kin Title Mrs R

Next of Kin Surname HARRIS

Next of Kin Relationship Mother

Next of Kin Address Catherine Street Onehunga

Roll 59

Page 18

Occupation Labourer

Surname HARRIS

Given Name James Marcus

Category Nominal Roll Vol. 1

Regimental Number 12/3351

Rank Private

Body or Draft Eighth

Unit or Regiment Auckland Infantry Batln

Marital Status S

Last NZ Address Te Kuiti

Next of Kin Title Mrs C

Next of Kin Surname HARRIS

Next of Kin Relationship Mother

Next of Kin Address Catherine St Onehunga

My Ralph was born in Auckland, NZ on 10 July 1886 according to his school records. So the birthdate doesn't fit. Whilst one can't trust school records to be 100% correct, wrong day month and year - particularly 4 years out - is a little difficult to swallow. The date doesn't match any of his siblings, in case he used their date to enlist for some odd reason.

The mother's name was Catherine, but she was called Kate. She lived in Onehunga, but was in Catherine Street - not Maria Street - when the other three enlisted. However, when she died in 1931, she was living in Maria Street. Also, she was born in Panmure, Auckland. Not Melbourne, Australia. However, Kate's parents had left NZ for Australia quite some years before. I found the grandmother's death certificate for NSW, but have been unable to find the grandfather. Will now see if he's listed in Victoria!

The father's name was Gustavus Ralph Orlando Tucker Tenney HARRIS, known as Ralph. He was born in Cornwall England. On his marriage certificate, he just used 'Gustavus Ralph' and left off the other names. (Don't blame him!) He left the family in about 1894, virtually never to be heard of again (we don't know what happened to him, where/when died etc) and his wife was illiterate. On her death certificate her husband's names are written as Walter Ralph Adonus Tenney Harris. Three out of five aren't bad when you haven't see the man for 36 years, I suppose... Also, if the son was Ralph Walter, maybe they thought one of the father's name was Walter to match?

The children all went to the convent school in Panmure, so they were supposedly Catholic. But that was because their mother had been Catholic - their dad was Church of England.

A heck of a lot of coincidences for it not to be my Ralph. If it is my Ralph it just goes to show you can't trust the information they put on their attestation forms!

Allie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allie

It sounds too much of a coincidence for it not to be your man. And you're correct - you certainly can't always trust the information put on attestation forms!

I'll check out the brothers - might be something there to clarify things further for you.

Cheers

Zack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Zack.

From the writing, I'm wondering if 'Ralph Finnis Harris' might be Ralph Tennie Harris, a misspelling of Tenney? But you're right... that file is frightfully difficult to read! Thanks for emailing it. :)

Also, I'm wondering if 'Toxward' (employer's name) might be 'Forward'. Although, that being said, I've just found a cemetery record for someone named Toxward, so perhaps your eyesight is better than mine?

I give this chap a 'B-' for handwriting. And me a B- for decifering abilities. ;)

Allie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...