Topic: William Earnest Page

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great war who died of wounds received in action during the battle for Messines.

Page, W. E.

Company Sergeant Major William Ernest Page  - 6/3123     

William was born 3 April 1892 William and Sarah Page, Hororata. William, known as Ernie, had like his brother worked in the Hororata blacksmiths shop. At the time of enlisting he was working for the railways and living in St Albans, Christchurch. He had previous military experience having served for six months with the NZ Railway Engineers Corp and prior to that three years with the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry. He was 5ft 10in tall with a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair.

Ernie enlisted on 12 June 1915 at Trentham and was assigned to the Canterbury Infantry. He embarked 9 October 1915 from Wellington  for Suez on board the Aparima arriving on 18 November 1915. He had been promoted to Lance Corp before leaving on 1st October 1915. In the Reserve Camp in Egypt he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry on 8th March 1916 and reverted to private but he was again promoted to Lance Corp less than a week later. After barely a month in Egypt he embarked on the Ascania on 8 April for France. Once in France he was promoted to Corporal on 8 May 1916 becoming one of the Battalion grenadiers, responsible for bomb throwing. Four months later he was again promoted, this time to Lance sergeant on 6th September and full Sergeant on 9 December 1916. He was finally promoted to Company Sergeant Major on 26 May 1917 a few weeks before the battle for Messines. Ernie died of gun-shot wounds to his back and abdomen, received in action during the battle on the 7th when the 2nd Canterbury Battalion was tasked with capturing the left portion of the village of Messines. He was picked up and treated by an Australian Field Ambulance and taken to an Australian Casualty Clearing Station. He was evacuated to the No 83 General Hospital, Boulogne on the 8th but sadly died of his wounds two days later at 3:30am, aged only 25. He was buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Boulogne, France.  In New Zealand he is remembered on the Hororata War Memorial. He and his brother are also remembered on the family memorial in Hororata Churchyard. "In loving memory of Sergeant Major Ernest Page, 7th Reinforcements, who died of wounds received in the Battle of Messines, France, 9 June 1917, aged 25 years and of Rifleman Albert Page, 26th Reinforcements, who was killed in action in France, 5 April 1918, aged 27 years. Dearly loved and only sons of W & S Page."

CWGC locale history: Boulogne, was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas. Until June 1918, the dead from the hospitals at Boulogne itself were buried in the Cimetiere de L'Est, one of the town cemeteries, the Commonwealth graves forming a long, narrow strip along the right hand edge of the cemetery. In the spring of 1918, it was found that space was running short in the Eastern Cemetery in spite of repeated extensions to the south, and the site of the new cemetery at Terlincthun was chosen. During the Second World War, hospitals were again posted to Boulogne for a short time in May 1940. The town was taken by the Germans at the end of that month and remained in their hands until recaptured by the Canadians on 22 September 1944. Boulogne Eastern Cemetery contains 5,577 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 224 from the Second World War. The Commonwealth plots were designed by Charles Holden.

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William Earnest Page

First Names:William Ernest
Last Name:Page
Date of Birth:3 apr 1892
Place of Birth:Hororata
Date of Death:10 Jun 1917
Place of Death:Boulogne, France
Memorial or Cemetery:Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Age at death:25
User Name:Selwyn Library
Other names known by:Ernie
Occupation before enlisting:Railway Engineer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:559
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:86 Bristol Street, Saint Albans, Christchurch,
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of William and Sarah Jane Page, of Hororata, Canterbury,
Service Number:6/3123
Rank last held:Company Sergeant Major/ Warrent Officer 2nd Class
Embarkation:9 October 1915
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Died of wounds