WW1 Gunner William Robert Monro 2/313

Gunner William Robert Monro

William was born 5 August 1893 to the Reverend George Bissett Monro and wife Agnes of Arney Road, Remuera, and St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Remuera. He received his early education at Remuera School, and then at Auckland Grammar School (1909-10).

Prior to enlisting in the New Zealand Forces he was employed as a shipping clerk by C. H. Furness and Co. of Commerce Street. William took a keen interest in the Bible class movement, and at the time of enlistment was district secretary for the New Zealand Union. In camp he was regarded as expert in the telephone section, and was accordingly attached to headquarters. [1] [2]

In July 1915 he was one of forty New Zealanders selected to go to Paris to represent New Zealand at the celebrations for the French national day. Gunner Monro wrote a long letter home which was received and reproduced in the Auckland Star after he had died. [3]

At attestation on 4th September 1914 William was posted to the N Z Field Artillery 2nd Battery, 2nd Brigade and then embarked for Egypt on 16 Oct 1914, arriving on 3 December 1914. He then sailed to the Dardanelles on 12 April 1915, but a week later was admitted injured to 1st Australian Stationary Hospital on Lemnos. He rejoined his unit on 29 June 1915 at Anzac. He survived Gallipoli and was evacuated with the rest of the New Zealanders on 22 December 1915 back to Zeitoun Camp in Egypt. On 7 April 1916 William embarked for France on HMS Eboe. On 15 October 1916 he was wounded in the field during the fruitless Battle for the Somme and died of his wounds that day. [4]



William Monro is buried at Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, France II. D. 70. He is remembered on the following:

• Remuera Primary School World War One Gates 1914-1918, 25 Dromorne Road, Remuera Auckland 1050

• Auckland Grammar School memorial

• Roll of Honour of St Luke’s Church, Remuera Road, Remuera.

* A bursary at Knox College for Bible Class members entering the Presbyterian Church was established by the Reverend G B Monro in the name of William Monro. [5]

An obituary appeared in the Auckland Grammar School Chronicle and in the Auckland Star. Both said: Amongst his comrades Gunner Monro earned general admiration and respect for his kindly disposition and unswerving principles. [6]



Some of the best of dominion manhood. Represent us in Paris. Letter from artilleryman.

In a letter received recently by his parents. Gunner W. R Monro, who has since died as a result of wounds received on the French front, gives an interesting account of his experiences as one of the forty New Zealanders who represented the Dominion at the French Republique Fete Day, of which brief mention was made in the cables. Gunner Monro said in his letter:— “We were away from the front seven days altogether, and spent three whole days in Paris, hut did not get very much leave. However, what leave we did get we made the most of. The purpose of our going was to represent New Zealand along with all the other British colonies at the great review. Forty New Zealanders went, but only ten artillerymen. Great Britain Bad representatives from all her best Home regiments, and her colonies that were represented were: India, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Newfoundland, and New Zealand. Then there were Belgian and Russian soldiers besides ourselves on one side of the review ground, and on the other side representatives from all French colonies as well as her own home regiments.

‘NOTHING LIKE IT.” “It was reckoned to be the greatest review of its kind in the world’s history. There was certainly nothing like it known before, where representatives of so many fighting forces were gathered together under such circumstances. For obvious reasons I cannot mention all the soldiers who were there, and bow many, but when we marched through the streets of the city after President Poincaire had inspected us it took an hour for the parade to pass a given point.

AN ENTHUSIASTIC PEOPLE. “The people were, very excited, and, as we marched through their city, along its beautiful wide streets, they threw bunches of roses, carnations, and other flowers to us, till the roadway was literally bestrewn with flowers. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that there were millions of people lining the route. The slouch hats which we and the Australians wore seemed to create a special interest. All of the New Zealanders were well over six feet, and the colonial carriage and browned faces made us a distinctive unit in the great assembly. The Highlanders, too, in their kilts, making a large display of bare knees, also called for a lot of attention, and were heartily cheered.

ON MOTOR LORRIES. “After we had marched about three miles we halted, and got aboard motor lorries, and were driven right through the town and then back to barracks. The crowds cheered and threw quantities of flowers into the lorries as we passed. We saw the Eiffel Tower, of course, but were not allowed to go into it. As I said, we did not get much leave, but, nevertheless, we managed to see many of the sights of wonderful Paris. A TENDER FAREWELL. “The evening we came away the people seemed loath to part with us. We marched out of the barrack courtyard, and they cheered and shouted “An Revoir’ and ‘Bon voyage.’ Soon we got the order to march ‘at ease,’ and it was not long before the crowd closed in on us, and compelled us to march in single file. As we went along singing “Tipperary” and other Army songs the girls covered us with flowers and medals, and, after the manner of the demonstrative. French, threw their arms round us and kissed us. Mothers passed up their children and babies for us to kiss, and everyone had to have his ‘handshake. The requests to ‘kiss me’ came thick and fast. I have never seen such a display of affection, and perhaps never will again.

FOUR GIRLS FROM HOME. “At the station gates we had to part with the French people- The following was rather a torching incident. Three English girls and one Scotch girl at the gate pleaded with our sergeant that they might be allowed to go on to the platform. One said: “We are the only English girls here, can you do nothing for us,’ and she then broke down. She was evidently feeling very proud of her countrymen. However, it was no use, and in a few minutes we were soon away in the train. We all know now how, much the French people appreciate what we are able to do to protect their homes and their country.” Soon after Gunner Monro gave his life as one of the protectors. [7]