22 August 1890 – 4 October 1917
Regimental number 45938
Henry Warner, usually called Harry, was baptised in 1854 in the parish of Henley on Thames. In 1878, he married Kate Elizabeth Pratt, born in 1853 in Chapford, Gloucestershire. The marriage took place in Gloucester county, in the parish of Siddington. At the time Harry, like his father, was working as a joiner, while Kate’s father, William Pratt, was described as Assistant Manager of the Thames to Severn Canal.
By the time of the 1881 Census in England, Harry and Kate were living in Paddington with their first child, a son named William who was then one. Some years after that census, probably in 1886, the family moved to New Zealand, settling first in Caversham, Dunedin, In New Zealand, Harry and Kate’s family grew, with the additions of Ernest in 1887, Harry junior in August 1890, Ella in 1893 and May in 1896. In about 1893 the family moved to Wellington to settle in Holloway Road, Mitchelltown, both Harry and Kate being registered at that address on the 1896 Electoral Roll. Harry senior continued his work as a joiner but he also became involved in trade union affairs. He spoke vigorously in public meetings while he was in Dunedin and continued as an advocate for workers after 1893 in Wellington. He was elected to represent Australasia and South Africa at the Congress of the British Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners scheduled to be held in Manchester in 1901. It is not clear whether he was able to accept this opportunity because he also signed up to serve in the South African War and did so, as a saddler.
Young Harry attended the Mitchelltown School and then followed his father and grandfather into the trade, on some occasions calling himself a joiner and on others, a carpenter. After he qualified he was self-employed, although he was still living with his parents in Holloway Road.
He enlisted to serve overseas on 4 January 1917 at the age of 26. His attestation record shows that he was then 5 feet 6¼ inches tall, weighed 123 pounds (a little under 56 kilograms) with brown eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion.
Harry was part of the 25th Reinforcements, embarking from Wellington on the troop transport ship SS Turakina on 26 April. The journey was recorded in The Klink, the souvenir publication prepared by some of the soldiers about ‘the history and doings of the 25th Reinforcements on their way to the front’. Sydney, the ship’s first port of call, was clearly an eye-opener for some of the troops, showing ‘the latest stage of culture and civilisation [with] French restaurants, American bars, ferries, taxis, mixed beaches and pure politicians’ (sic!). A less pleasant time followed as the ship made its way from Sydney to Freemantle battling days of westerly gales and ‘a pounding sea’ until eventually it arrived with a ‘sick and despondent’ crew. Then ‘we sailed into brighter skies and calmer seas, our meals became more permanent, and our minds turned to sport and music-making, concerts, court-martials, and the hundred and one ways of relieving the monotony of a long stretch.’ Hot weather and what was described as an epidemic of influenza followed before ‘three delightful days in this lotus-eating pleasure place’ of Natal, the delights including ‘pineapple, rickshas (sic), bazaars, oranges, tram rides, bread and butter, real tea, and so forth.’ The good times could not last and on 20 July, the SS Turakina sailed into Plymouth, one day after the arrival of Tofua carrying the other troops who formed the 25th Reinforcements. It turned out to be the Turakina’s last trip as a troop carrier. On 13 August 1917, on a voyage from London to New York in ballast, she was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off Lands End, with the loss of three lives. By that time, the 25th Reinforcements were well into their training at Sling Camp in readiness for their move to France on 5 September.
Harry was in the party that marched into Etaples on 9 September 1917. More training followed, and on 20 September, he was posted to B Company in the Wellington Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion. Training had been in full swing throughout September. The weather had been good and on 14 September, a week before Harry’s arrival, the battalion had paraded before the Commander in Chief, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig and the Secretary of State for War, the Right Hon Winston Churchill. Clearly, an attack was in prospect. On 25 September, the 1st Battalion began its march towards the Ypres Salient. On that day, according to the official history, the battalion marched about 25 miles, on the following day another 12 miles, and the same distance on the 27th. The marching was a challenge. Although the troops had been training for a whole month, they had been marching over roads that were not cobbled and they were carrying fighting kit, whereas now the roads were cobbled, the men were carrying full kits, and the weather was hot. It was a real endurance test. Two days of rest followed and final preparations for the operations to come.
The New Zealanders were assigned to take part in a major offensive to capture the high ground east of Ypres, in Belgium. The attack was fixed for 4 October 1917 in what became known as the Battle of Broodseinde. On 1 October, the 1st Battalion marched to Goldfish Chateau and bivouacked in the surrounding fields while final details were completed for the planned attack. Zero hour was fixed for six o’clock in the morning of 4 October. Overnight the weather had broken, with rain falling and a cold wind blowing. An artillery barrage began at 5.20am from the German side, with the response from the Allied side starting as planned at 6am. The 1st Battalion, already positioned at the front line, began moving as closely as possible behind their barrage. The day was marked by stiff fighting but ultimately was rated successful. The New Zealand soldiers overwhelmed the German forward positions, captured 1100 prisoners and helped to extend the front line eastwards, closer to Passchendaele. The official history has numerous references to the courage and gallantry shown on that day, but it came at a cost: a total of 1700 New Zealand casualties including 350 deaths. One of those who was killed in action on that day was Private Harry Warner, at the age of 27. He had joined his battalion just 14 days earlier, and had been in France for less than one month.
His death was reported in the Evening Post on 18 October 1917:
Among those killed in action on 4th October was Private Harry Warner, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Harry Warner, of Holloway-road, Mitchelltown. Deceased was educated at Mitchelltown School. He was 27 years of age and unmarried. His father, who is well known here in Labour circles, is at present on a visit to England.
Harry is listed on the memorial to the missing at Belgium’s Tyne Cot Cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Project explains that while the Menin Gate commemorates the troops from most Commonwealth countries who died in the Ypres Salient, New Zealand soldiers who died nearby are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, on a site marking the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war.
Researched and written by Max Kerr
 The Klink: a souvenir of the voyage of SS Turakina (HMNZT 84) April to July 1917 and a history of the doings of the left wing of the 25th Reinforcements NZEF on their way to the front, Spottiswood, Ballantyne & Co (1917)
 Although it looked old, this large house, built in the Flemish renaissance style, was erected in 1912. It had been taken over as the divisional headquarters during the war and was dubbed ‘Goldfish Chateau’ by English soldiers after the goldfish in the ornamental ponds in the grounds. Remarkably in light of the fighting that took place in the area, the chateau emerged unscathed from the war and after some restoration, was leased to the Salvation Army.
 The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914–1919, W H Cunningham, C A L Treadwell, J S Hanna, Ferguson and Osborn, 1928. Pp213–223.
 https://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/tyne-cot-memorial accessed on 15 August 2017