WILLIAM GEORGE DRUMMOND
13 January 1898 – 19 September 1916
Regimental Number 24/107
William George DRUMMOND’s parents, Alexander James and Elizabeth (nee CAMPBELL) Drummond were married in Wellington on 9 March 1892. They had 6 children, Agnes Elizabeth, born 20 October 1892; Constance Annie born 12 July 1894; Eleanor Jane (Nell) 30 September 1896; William George born 13 January 1898; Alice Jessie born 18 December 1902; and Alexander James born 18 February 1905 in Wellington. Alexander senior was a public servant, working at the Public Trust Office. The family first lived at Bute Street, Te Aro, before moving to live in Willis Street and then Sugarloaf Road in Brooklyn. William and his sisters attended Vogeltown and Brooklyn Schools; William from January 1902 until 13 December 1911 leaving with a Certificate of Competency. He was also awarded a First Class Attendance Certificate for attending school for 9 years.
During his time at school William was a member of the Boys’ Institute and also a cadet with No.27 Company in Wellington. When he left school he became a telegraph messenger with the Te Aro Post & Telegraph Department. While at work riding his bicycle in May 1913 he collided with a D.I.C. (formerly a large department store in Wellington) delivery van at the junction of Elizabeth and Brougham Streets. He was knocked unconscious after falling from his bicycle and hitting his head and was admitted to Hospital.ᶦ
William registered for service at No.5 Group Office, Buckle Street on 28 April 1915. When he attested at Trentham on 29 May 1915, he gave his birthdate as 1895, giving him a declared age of 20 when he was in fact only 17. He was a Grocer’s Assistant working for H. Allen, grocers of Happy Valley Road in Brooklyn. At this time he was living at 21A Glenbervie Terrace in Thorndon with his father and siblings, his mother, Elizabeth having died of cancer on 22 November 1914 aged 44. To get to work he would have been able to catch a tram from the Wellington railway station to Brooklyn.
At enlistment William was described as being 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 108.5 pounds. His chest measurement was 33½ inches minimum and 35 inches maximum. He had dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His religious profession was Baptist.
William’s medical examination showed that his teeth were ‘sufficient’ and he had no fits or illnesses. He was in good bodily and mental health with no defects to cause rejection for service. He was given the regimental number 24/107 in A Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Trentham Regiment. Here William was inoculated against typhoid in May 1916.
William then trained as a gunner at Trentham until he embarked for Egypt aboard the ‘Tahiti’ on 9 October 1915 with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He disembarked on 18 November 1915 and arrived in Egypt in time for his unit to become the only New Zealand unit to participate in the Senussi Campaign. The Senussi were a religious sect whom the allies of the Germans, the Ottoman Empire, persuaded to attack the British from the west in order to divert them from the Suez Canal. The campaign took place between November 1915 and March 1916 and was successful in the re-capture of the coast.
On 6 April 1916 William’s unit embarked for Marseilles, France from Alexandria. From Marseilles they took a 3-day train journey north to Hazebrouck, Flanders, for extensive training in trench warfare and practise gas drills at Armentieres for 3 months. The 2nd Rifles Battalion was also involved in raiding parties and on 24 June a 73-strong raiding party supported by artillery and mortars killed 29 Germans and captured nine prisoners. Soon after this, the entire division withdrew from Armentieres and moved south to the Somme. William was then to take part in the battle of the Somme which began on 1 July; a day that saw 19,000 men killed and 38,000 wounded.
William was twice absent from parade; the first time in Egypt on 15 December 1915 when he received forfeiture of 2 days’ pay and again on 7 August 1916 in France when he was deprived of 5 days’ pay for being absent from parade in the field.
William continued in the field in the battle of the Somme until he received a gun shot wound to the head on 17 September 1916. He was admitted to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station but died of his wounds on 19 September 1916 at just 18 years of age. He was buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt, L’Abbe, France,in grave number IV. E. 48. Mericourt-l'Abbe is a village approximately 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens and 10 kilometres south-west of Albert. The burials in this cemetery were carried out under extreme pressure and many of the graves are either too close together to be marked individually, or they contain multiple burials. In William’s case, he shares his plot with Private Charles Murdock (Murdoch) LIVINGSTONE of the Otago Regiment who was killed in the same action on 20 September.
Just two days later on 21 September 1916, William’s cousin William Henry Drummond JENNINGS (son of Alexander James Drummond’s sister Hannah) died of wounds suffered in the same battle. He was 23 years old. He is named on the New Zealand memorial wall at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery.
William’s sister Eleanor was named as his next of kin and received his 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal in May 1922. These were sent to her care of her father Alexander at the Public Trust Office where he was a messenger.
Alexander married Nance Reid WOOD in 1924 and on 1 April 1924 was appointed Inspector of Weights and Measure in Tauranga. He died in Tauranga in 1926.
Eleanor (Nell) married Murdo MACRAE at St James Church, Newtown in December 1917. She named her son William after her brother.
William’s others sisters, Agnes Elizabeth married Samuel APPLEBY in 1918 and Constance Annie married William Alexander HART in 1923. His sister Alice Jessie was unmarried. Alexander James junior married Kathleen Melba WILSON in 1926.
Researched and written by Ann Walker, with additional family information supplied by Sue Harrison, a descendant of Alexander James Drummond
 Evening Post 22 May 1913.
 Elizabeth was buried in Karori Cemetery on 24 November 1914.