WW1 The Spencer Family

Norman Spencer, Harrison (Bob) Spencer, and Harold Spencer (Auckland-Libraries Heritage Collections 1365-319)

Lucy Charlotte Spencer (nee Nutter) and Percy Spencer, lived in Victoria Avenue, Remuera. There were six children, five brothers, three of whom served in the First World War.

The Spencer Brothers:

Norman Berridge Spencer (25/1033) (1891 – 1968)
Harold Percy Spencer, (4/1199) (1892-1964)
Harrison Nutter Spencer, (4/1198, 1/18/523) (1895-1974)
Arthur Morell Spencer (1901-1983)
Hugh McCutchen Spencer. (1905-1981)

There was also a half-sister Annie Heath Martin Insull (1888-1966).

Norman Berridge Spencer, by Herman Schmidt, 1916 (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections-31-S1120)

Norman Berridge Spencer (Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 - The Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, Photograph)

CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)

Norman Berridge Spencer (25/1033)

The eldest son, Norman Berridge Spencer was born in 1891.  He studied at Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland) 1908 – 1913 gaining a B.A. and Law degree and becoming a solicitor like his father, Percy Spencer.

He enlisted and sailed from New Zealand on 5 February 1916 as a Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, B Company, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  Norman was posted to France in July 1917 and was wounded in August 1917. When he recovered, he was transferred to Army Headquarters Staff in France.  Norman was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) in recognition of valuable services to the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (London Gazette 17 June 1918). Norman was selected for Officer training and was transferred to Officer Cadet Training in London, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in February 1919. [1]

After his return to New Zealand, he went briefly into a law partnership with his father, before expanding to become a business entrepreneur.

Throughout his working life, Norman was busy in Auckland business and public affairs being:

  • Director of the Passenger Transport Company Limited. It was formed in 1925 and rapidly expanded to move passengers to and from Otahuhu to Auckland Central. More recently the company dealt with transport maintenance.
  • Member of the Auckland Transport Board and Chairman in 1940
  • Member of the Auckland Co-operative Terminating Building Society
  • President of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce in 1940-1941
  • Member of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, and President in 1942
  • Member of the Senate of the University of New Zealand. [2]
  • Member of the Freemasons. He joined the Remuera Lodge in 1921 and in 1927 he joined QCCC (Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle) Lodge 2076, which focused on Masonic research.  It had been established in 1884 and takes its name from the Four Crowned Martyrs or ‘Quatuor Coronati’ – the traditional patron saints of stonemasons, and the building trades. Norman became a full member of QCCC in 1951, and served as Master in 1959 – 1960. An annual scholarship was established in his name as The Norman B. Spencer Essay Prize. In 1959, he received the Order of Service to Freemasonry. [3]

In 1962 he gifted two clocks to be placed on the clock tower of the Remuera Post Office, which had been built in 1914. [4]

In 1963, Norman was awarded CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) which is the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award (excluding a knighthood/damehood), for services in the fields of philanthropy and community welfare.   The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level. [5] [6].

In his busy life, he was interested in stamp collecting and was a member of the Auckland Philatelic Society. [7]

He married Isabella Robinson in 1940 and they had a daughter Eleanor Lucy in 1942 [8] and a son Martin Berridge Spencer in 1943. [9]

In the year of his death 1968, he gifted works of art to the Auckland Art Gallery.

He is remembered in an obituary written by Harry Carr in AQC 80 and The Norman B. Spencer Essay Prize [10]

He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour Auckland University College (now University of Auckland).

Harold Spencer in cadet uniform (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1365-80) Ltd

Harold Percy Spencer (4/1199)

Harold Percy Spencer (4/1199) was the second son, born in 1892. Harold attended Remuera Primary School and like his brother, Auckland Grammar School and Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland).

At the time of his enlistment on 13 February 1915, Harold was a Surveyor with A M and V J Kelly in Mt Eden.

He embarked on 13 November 1915, for Cairo, Egypt, as a Sapper or military engineer ranked as a Private with the Divisional Signallers, 8th Reinforcements. For the duration of the war he was based in Egypt.

He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

In 1921, he married Margaret Isabel Morpeth. Harold died in 1964. His name is remembered on the Remuera Primary School World War One Gates 1914-1918, 25 Dromorne Road, Remuera. [1]

Spencer Wedding - Harrison (Bob) Nutter to Winifred Waite, 1924 (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1365-110)

Harrison Nutter Spencer (4/1198, 1/18/523)

Harrison Nutter Spencer (4/1198, 1/18/523) was born in 1895 to Lucy Charlotte Spencer (nee Nutter) and Percy Spencer, living in Victoria Avenue, Remuera.  Like his brothers attended Auckland Grammar School and Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland). He was studying law, when war intervened, and subsequently completed his law degree in 1925.  He was admitted to the Supreme Court as a Barrister in 1941 [1, 2]

He enlisted in 25 August 1915 with his brother Harold Percy Spencer (4/1199) and they sailed on 13 November 1915 both as Sappers or military engineers ranked as Privates with the Divisional Signallers, 8th Reinforcements where they served in Egypt. Harrison spent two months during December 1917 to February 1918 at the School of Instruction and became a qualified Signaller. Harrison continued to serve in Egypt and the Near East until after the Turkish Armistice on 30 October 1918, to March 1919, being discharged 17 May 1919.

Harrison was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

In 1924, he married Winifred Ellen Waite (22/466) (1890 – 1984) who had also served in the First World War as a nurse. They had a son in 1925.

In the Second World War, Harrison served with the Territorial Force, then the Reserve of Officers in Auckland. Winifred nursed American soldiers at Ellerslie, Greenlane in WW2. Harrison died in 1974 and is buried with Winifred at Purewa Cemetery, Auckland.


Winifred Ellen Waite (22/466)

Winifred Ellen Waite was born 20 September 1890 in Taranaki to Henry Waite and Ellen Maria Waite, second eldest of a large family of twelve children. Winifred trained as a nurse at the New Plymouth Hospital. At the time of her volunteering, she was Sister-in-Charge, Surgical Ward, Wellington Hospital.

Winifred joined New Zealand Military Nursing: New Zealand Army Nursing Service – Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps 22/466. Winifred sailed on 24 January 1918 for Egypt, on the vessel ‘Riverina’ as a Staff Nurse, New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. [1]

Winifred nursed in hospitals in Egypt and the Near East until 12 October 1919.

Winifred married Harrison Nutter Spencer (4/1198, 1/18/523) in 1924. They had one child: a son born in 1925.

After the First World War, Winifred was for many years, prominent in the Returned Army Nursing Sisters Association (RANSA) including being its Honorary Treasurer [2]

Her First World War nursing uniform (complete with all its epaulettes), is preserved in a small Museum attached to New Plymouth Hospital where she trained.

Winifred Ellen Spencer (22/466) died in 1984, aged 94 years and is buried at Purewa Cemetery, alongside her husband, Harrison Nutter Spencer (4/1198, 1/18/523).

G Ralph
May 2020