Topic: William Thomas Buckner

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War who died of Influenza in England.

William Thomas Buckner - 40183                                                  

William was born at Ashburton on 2nd August 1893, eldest son of Thomas and Emily Henrietta Buckner. He was educated at the Harewood School and afterwards was employed for four and a half years at Mr Buxton's nursery. At time of enlisting he was employed as a teamster by Mrs Cogan, Waddington. He had served two month military training with territorials. He was 5ft 4in tall with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

William enlisted on 16th October 1916, although his service was deferred until 14th November. He was assigned to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade Reinforcements H Company and embarked with them on board the Ruapehu bound for Europe on 14 March 1917. He was admitted to hospital whilst at sea on 24th April with measles and discharged on 8th May. He disembarked at Devonport on 25th May and marched into Camp at Sling the same day. Exactly a month later on 21st June he left for France and marched into Camp at Etaples on the 23rd June. He was posted to the 4th/3rd Rifle Brigade and posted to A company in the field on 11th July. He served with them in France throughout 1917, including the disastrous battle of Passchendaele. He was admitted to 4th Field Ambulance on 18 January 1918 with trench foot. He was sent on to bea dmitted to 22nd General Hospital in Camiers on 29th January and after treatment and convalescence it was 26th March before he was able to march in at Etaples and re-join the Rifle Brigade, although he appears not to have been posted back to the field.  He was given leave in England on 15th September although as his date for re-joining is the same it is clear he did not go because he was ill. On 8th October at Etaples he went before the standing Medical Board to review his condition. He was suffering from debility after the Trench Fever he had developed on 15th January 1918. William reported that he had been evacuated from his unit originally with Trench Feet and a week later developed Trench Fever. He was in hospital for a month and then had five weeks convalescence. He had felt ill ever since and that is why he had been retained at the Depot at Etaples. The medical exam noted that he was pale, debilitated with a persistent cough, had cogwheel respiration in the left lung and his heart was “irritable”.  On 11th October he was classified C Class and detached to England with the recommendation he be returned to New Zealand for twelve months.  He arrived at Torquay, the NZ Discharge Depot on 12th October but on 20th he was admitted to the temporary hospital on the Town Hall with Influenza, acute pneumonic consolidation of the lung. He was placed on the dangerously ill list and taken to the Red Cross Hospital on 21st but sadly he died on 23rd from heart failure, aged 25. He was buried in the Hillingdon and Uxbridge Cemetery on 28th October. In New Zealand William is remembered on the Springston War Memorial.

Cemetery locale history: During the two world wars, the United Kingdom became an island fortress used for training troops and launching land, sea and air operations around the globe. There are more than 170,000 Commonwealth war graves in the United Kingdom, many being those of servicemen and women killed on active service, or who later succumbed to wounds. Others died in training accidents, or because of sickness or disease. The graves, many of them privately owned and marked by private memorials, will be found in more than 12,000 cemeteries and churchyards. Hillingdon House Canadian Convalescent Hospital was opened in September 1915 and taken over by the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. During the Second World War, many of the hospitals in Middlesex, including those at Hillingdon and Uxbridge, became Military Station Hospitals and the Royal Air Force station at Uxbridge played a significant role throughout the war. Hillingdon and Uxbridge Cemetery contains 38 First World War burials scattered throughout the cemetery. The Second World War burials number 58, 30 of the graves, mostly those of airmen, forming a war graves plot towards the centre of the cemetery. The cemetery also contains a number of post war Royal Air Force graves.

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William Thomas Buckner


First Names:William Thomas
Last Name:Buckner
Date of Birth:2nd August 1893
Place of Birth:Ashburton
Date of Death:23 October 1918
Place of Death:United Kingdom to France
Memorial or Cemetery:Hillingdon And Uxbridge Cemetery, GA 5
Age at death:25
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Farm Hand
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:57/32
Regiment or Service:New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:16 October 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Thomas and Emily Henrietta Buckner, of 34, Berry St., St. Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Service Number:40183
Rank last held:Rifleman
Embarkation:14 March 1917
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Ruapehu
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Died of Influenza
Other biographical information:Brother also fought