WW1 Hugh Alexander Forrest

Hugh Alexander Forrest

Hugh Alexander Forrest was the eldest son of Jessie and William Forrest, who was Postmaster at Devonport Auckland.

Hugh was born in Wellington on 30 May 1893 and went to Devonport Primary School and then Auckland Grammar School from 1907 to 1909, where he won the second prize for Mathematics and Science in IV.C in 1908 and matriculated from the Lower Fifth, the following year, and also passed the Junior Civil Service Examination. [1]

Hugh (known as Alec) was born in Wellington on 30 May 1893. Hugh went to Devonport Primary School and then Auckland Grammar School passing the national scholarship examination at the end of 1906. On leaving school he was articled to H Morpeth of Morpeth Gould as a solicitor’s clerk, and attended law lectures from 1910 – 1914 at Auckland University College, where he passed five subjects, including Latin, Jurisprudence and Constitutional History, for the law degree LL.B. He played rugby and belonged to the College Rifles Rugby Football Club in Remuera, Auckland.

Hugh was active in the junior cadet units at College Rifles and was appointed a Second Lieutenant on 24 October 1912 after serving for two years in the 54th (North Auckland) Senior Cadets at Takapuna. He was promoted to Lieutenant in the territorial forces in March 1916. He passed his final law examination as a solicitor in May 1916, and left immediately for Wellington to take up his commission. He enlisted on 24 July 1916 and was given the rank of Second Lieutenant on arrival at Trentham Camp. He was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1917.

On 16 February 1917 Alec Forrest embarked from Wellington with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, J Company. He arrived in Devonport, England on 26 April 1917 and proceeded to Sling Camp until 4 June when his unit left for the N Z Infantry and General Base Depot in Etaples, France. He was posted to B Company of the Rifle Brigade on 27 June and was on leave in Paris from 21 August until 28 August when he rejoined his unit. [2] Hugh was killed in action on 12 October 1917, the day 845 New Zealanders were killed in the advance on Gravenstafel in the First Battle of Passchendaele. The 2nd Battalion, of which Forrest was a member, attacked at 5:25am but a totally ineffective allied barrage meant there was no protection from German machinegun fire and most of the casualties occurred in the first few hours. He was aged 24.

Roll of Honour Board

He is buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium. He is remembered on the College Rifles Rugby Club Roll of Honour in Remuera, the Devonport Primary School memorial granite tablet and the Auckland Grammar School Memorial.

He is also remembered through the suburb of Forrest Hill and Forrest Hill Road on Auckland’s North Shore, which was renamed from White’s Hill by the Takapuna Borough Council in 1919. A memorial plaque is situated in the grounds of Forrest Hill Primary School.