WW1 Ben Hirst (Service Number 2/1793)

Ben Hirst — Portrait Auckland Grammar School [1]

Ben Hirst was born on 16 April 1893 to Marion Violet Hirst and Frank Martin Hirst of Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland. Ben attended Auckland Grammar School from 1908 for four years and during that time was a member of the Auckland Grammar School Cadets as a Lance Corporal.

After leaving school and passing the Civil Service exam in 1911, he was employed as a clerk with the South British Insurance Company.[1] Both Ben and his sister Ethel Marion Hirst served in World War I. Ben enlisted on 17 April 1915 at Trentham. He was 5ft 11 1/2 inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair.

He embarked on 13 June 1915 from Wellington on the vessel ‘Manunganui’ arriving on 24 July 1915 at Suez, Egypt. Ben was a gunner, with the New Zealand Field Artillery, 5th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and on the 8th August 1915 he was sent to Gallipoli until 30th August 1915. He returned to Egypt, where he was stationed for eight months, until he was sent to Etaples, France on 14 April 1916. [2]

The Field Artillery were the second-largest component of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, after the infantry. Most artillerymen were attached to batteries of 18-pounder field guns, while a few used howitzers (a cannon with a short barrel, firing shells at a high angle to reach a target behind cover or a trench). [3] The New Zealand Field Artillery moved to the Western Front in April 1916 as part of the New Zealand Division. It served in the Somme campaign of 1916, in 1917 at Messines and Passchendaele, and continued fighting on the Western Front until November 1918. [4]

Auckland Grammar School War Memorial

Whilst on leave in England, Ben was admitted to hospital on 20 February 1917 and discharged to Aldershot, in Hampshire, England, until he was transferred to Etaples, France on 8th October 1917, for the Western Front. On 2nd May 1918, Ben was unwell and was admitted to No 3 Casualty Clearing Station, with pleurisy. Sadly, he died on 4th May 1918, aged 25.

Ben Hirst is buried at Bagneaux British Cemetery and is remembered with an obituary in the Auckland Grammar School Chronicle, Second Term, 1919, and on the memorials at:

• Auckland Grammar School War Memorial, New Zealand

• St Aidan’s Church, Remuera

• Howick and Pakuranga War Memorial, Stockade Hill, Howick, Auckland, New Zealand

• Howick Roll of Honour