WW1 Horace Howard Wattam

Horace Howard Wattam

Horace was the son of Robert and Florence Wattam, of Orarake Avenue (O’Rorke Avenue) and then 19 Grand View Road, Remuera. Horace was born on 12th November 1891, the third son in this family and was one of 14 children.

He was educated at Newmarket School and was working as a printer at W Richardson & Co. in Queen Street, Auckland. He was a member of the St Luke’s Church hockey club in Remuera.[1] On 19 August 1916 Robert and Florence Wattam of Remuera, Auckland were most likely on the dockside at Wellington to farewell their three sons Horace, John and Robert, who were embarking with the 10th Reinforcements aboard the ‘Aparima’ headed for Devonport, England and the war in Europe.  A month earlier the brothers had been treated to a “Monster Farewell” from the Onehunga People’s Mission. [2]


11 a.m. Grey Street Hall: 2.45 p.m., Sunday-School Hall. 7 p.m. FORESTERS’ THEATRE Monster Farewell Service to Troopers Wattam, Brothers and Comrades. Our Message to Our Boys. W.S.Q.B,Bright. Hearty Singing, Large Choir. Men in khaki welcome. Come and bring your friends. Missioner Rev. Stephen J. Campbell.

After a couple of months in Sling Camp, Horace was posted to the Machine Gun Corp with the 4th Company, N Z Machine Gunners at Grantham in the north of England. Machine gunners had a long period of training in England than the infantry. For their training in England they were sent to Grantham—a railway junction town of considerable size on the Great Northern Railway, 102 miles from London. This was the centre of the British machine-gun world. In 1918 over 50,000 men were camped around there undergoing training. There were three Imperial camps at Grantham—Harrowby (where the general officer commanding, and the schools were), Belton Park, and Chepstone, the latter some distance away. At each of these places the drafts were divided into battalions, and the New Zealanders, who were camped at Belton Park, comprised one battalion. There were sometimes as many as 550 N Z officers and men there. [3]

He finally embarked for France on 9 February 1917. Horace’s time at the front was short lived and he was killed in action on 7 June 1917, aged only 21 years old, at Messines in Belgium.

Borough of Newmarket Roll Of Honour

Horace is commemorated on a family grave at Hillsborough Cemetery where his mother, father and brother Jack are laid to rest and on the Borough of Newmarket Roll of Honour (left).

Wattam — Messines Cemetery

The Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing is situated within Messines Ridge British Cemetery, which is located 9.5 Kms south of Ieper town centre on the Nieuwkerkestraat, a road leading from the Rijselseweg, N365, which connects Ieper to Wijtschate, Mesen and on to Armentieres. It commemorates over 800 soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and who have no known grave. [4]