Topic: 2nd Lieutenant Clement Arthur Dartnell
A soldier of the Great War who died of influenza.
2nd Lieutenant Clement Arthur Dartnall – 6/2590
Clem was born at Springston on 27th January 1891, son of Henry Lloyd and Sarah Brookholding Dartnall. He was educated at the local school and afterwards attended the Boys High School for a couple of years. On leaving school he entered his father's business, working as a storekeeper for Dartnall and McMeekan, Springston. He was one of most popular young men in the district, and a very keen tennis player, being captain of the local club at the time of enlistment. He had previous military experience with the 13th Regiment, North Canterbury and Westland. He was 5ft 9in tall with a fair complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair.
Clem enlisted 13 March 1915 and was assigned to 6th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion. He was drafted to the Non Comissioned Officers camp where after training he was promoted to Corporal on 21 October 1915, then to Lance Sergeant on 4 March 1916 and then full sergeant on 5 March 1916. He embarked on 14 August 1915 and arrived in Mudros, where he joined the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment and as usual reverted to the ranks on 30 September 1915. He was appointed Corporal at Anzac, Gallipoli on 21 October where he saw considerable fighting and was among the last few to leave the Peninsula. He disembarked at Alexandria on 30 December 1915 and was promoted to Lance Sergeant at Ismailia on 4 March 1916 although this was later changed to full Sergeant. He embarked for France on board the Franconia from Port Said on 6 April 1916. After arrival in France on 11 April he was sent by train to Morbecque, near Hazebrouck where the NZ Division was gathered. He was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station at Armentiers on 20 May 1916 with the common ailment of scabies. He was discharged on 25 May and re-joined the battalion at Armentiers. He fought throughout the Somme campaign and was wounded on 27 September 1916 suffering a severe gunshot wound to his right shoulder during the attack to capture Gird Trench, near Bapaume. He was taken to hospital at the 8th General Hospital in Rouen on the same day, and was later evacuated to England on 3 October, being admitted to hospital at Reading the next day. On 23 October he was transferred to the 2nd NZ General Hospital at Walton on Thames. It was here that he learned on 8 December that he had been awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry in the field. The citation read “After the taking of the Grid Trench on September 25, all of the officers of Sgt. Dartnall's company were wounded and Sgt. Dartnall rallied the men and organised the consolidation and sent back reports to Battalion Headquarters that he was carrying on.” On 12 November he was attached to the Depot at Codford where he had a slight bout of Influenza on 28 December. He was transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch on 29 January 1917. Then he was detailed to Hornchurch this time “on command” from 19 March to 14 April at which time he relinquished his duty as Platoon Sergeant. He was given leave from 14 and was to report to Codford on 30 May. He was nominated for officer training and then transferred to the No 2 Officers Cadet battalion at Pembroke College Cambridge for instruction on 5 May. On completion of the training he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant supernumary (exceeding the usual number) and posted to the Canterbury Regiment. On 2 November 1917 he was seconded for duty in New Zealand as officer commanding Reinforcements. He left for New Zealand on board the Tainui on 2nd November 1917. On arriving back in New Zealand he took leave, spending it with his parents in Fendalton and to help his cousin with harvesting. He reported to Trentham Camp to take up his posting on 21 February 1918 and was attached to the headquarters instructional staff on 28 February. He was to have left again with the Thirty-eighth Reinforcements, but his shoulder wound had been causing problems. He went before the Medical Board and was classed as C1, likely to become fit for service overseas after special training and for some time he had been on duty at the CI Camp. He contracted influenza and died 3.50pm on 15 November, aged 27, at the Featherston Military Hospital from pneumonia following influenza. His death and funeral were reported in the Press, "The heroism and courage that gained the late Lieut. C. A. Dartnall, M.M., his decoration at the front were reproduced in his recent severe illness," writes an officer on the instructional staff at Trentham. "He fought every inch of the way and lost, so far as things earthly are concerned. The hospital staff and those who visited him agreed that he deserved to win. His funeral took place on Sunday, his remains being interred in the Featherston Public Cemetery. His parents, who were with him in his last hours, attended, also his brother, Private P. I A. Dartnall, as did every N.C.O. and man from the Springston district in camp well enough to attend. Chaplain Robertson conducted the service at the graveside. The 46th Reinforcement Band was in attendance, and the 49th Reinforcement supplied the firing party. The pall-bearers were returned officers, who had fought side by side with him, and who had learned to love him as a brother. His memory will long live, so fine was his personality, and so manly his example." Clem is remembered on the Springston War Memorial.
Researched and written by L M Seaton
South Wairarapa District Location Information: The cemetery is situated in Western Lake Road, Featherston.
Historical Information: The war graves in this cemetery are of service people who died in the great Reinforcement Camp at Featherston, established in January 1916, where a maximum of 4,500 men could be accommodated in huts and 3,000 under canvas. At Featherston the training of the Mounted Rifles, the Artillery and the specialists was carried out, as well as part of the Infantry training. An obelisk has been erected in the Cemetery, commemorating the men who died at the Camp; and a cross of Sacrifice is erected. The large number of deaths during the influenza epidemic in November, 1918, will be noticed. There are 180 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war and 2 of the 1939-1945 war here.
Military Medal (MM) Award Circumstances After the taking of the Grid Trench on September 25th, all of the wounded officers of Sgt. Dartnall's company were wounded and Sgt. Dartnall rallied the men and organised the consolidation and sent back reports to Battallion Headquaters that he was carrying on. L.G. 9 December 1916, p12058, rec No 394
Sgt C A Dartnell was reported wounded 12 October 1916.