WW1 John William Stoodley (12/2124)

J W Stoodley (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19160817-40-22)

W J Stoodley, WW1 Name panel, Newmarket War Memorial, Newmarket (John Halpin, 28 May 2011, AWMM)

Naval and Family Hotel (Image courtesy of www.flickr.com. Photo by Geoff-in-Oz, 10 November 2009)

John William Stoodley was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1886. He was the only son of William John Stoodley and Theresa (Terry) Mary Stoodley (nee Morgan), who at the time of John’s enlistment were living in Brighton Road, (part of which was renamed Bassett Road after Cyril Bassett won the Victoria Cross in WW1), Remuera.

John had been educated at home and then trained as a pork butcher.  In 1908, he married Grace Eleanor Fordham in Plymouth, England and they had two children Sylvia in 1909 and Mervyn in 1910.  They came to New Zealand in about 1913 and lived at 5 Parkfield Terrace, off Khyber Pass Road, Auckland. John worked as a Barman for Mr Bertram Raynes, at the Naval and Family Hotel, Cnr Pitt Street and Karangahape Road, Auckland.  The building is now a heritage building. [1, 2, 3].

John enlisted on 11 January 1915 at Trentham and left for Egypt on 17 April 1915 as a Private with the Auckland Infantry Battalion, 4th Reinforcements.  During June and July 1915, he was transferred to the Dardanelles and then back to Egypt until he was posted to the Somme, France in April 1916 with the New Zealand Division.

In the North of France, near the town of Armentières, the New Zealand Division was retrained, reorganised and re-equipped, to suit the quite different conditions there to Egypt and to gain experience in trench warfare.

The New Zealand Division joined the British Corps to breach the German’s defences on the Western Front. Despite the heavy toll, the attack made progress in the southern sector and managed to secure part of the German first line. The Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig decided that this ‘success’ should be exploited by pushing forward.

On 14 July 1916, a major push managed to secure part of the German second line. This effort was notable for an important tactical development — the creeping barrage, which provided a curtain of fire in front of the infantry as they crossed no-man’s-land.  The fighting resulted in loss of life and on the 19 July 1916 John was killed in action, aged 30. [4]

He is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France, II.E.3. John was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. The medals were sent to his widow who had returned to England.

John William Stoodley (12/2124) is remembered in New Zealand on the following memorials:

Newmarket War Memorial, Olympic Park, Newmarket, Auckland
The Borough of Newmarket War Memorial, Auckland Council Archives
Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 1 Hall of Memories.

G Ralph
May 2020