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3/383 Gunner Joseph Herbert Alexander - New Zealand Field Artillery 
 
Joseph Herbert Alexander was born on the 25th April 1886 in London as a young man he served his compulsory military training with the East London Volunteers[i] prior to immigrating to New Zealand. Joseph may have come out with his
family as his younger sister Mary, who is listed as his next of kin, married in New Zealand in 1914[ii] and was living in Inglewood, Taranaki at the time of her brother’s enlistment.  
 
Joseph Alexander is listed as a labourer at the Tokonui Mental Hospital but was residing at the Porirua Hotel when he enlisted with eight others[iii] from the Porirua Mental Hospital in the New Zealand Medical Corp. It is probable that
Joseph worked at the Porirua Mental Hospital prior to Tokonui, as he is listed as playing for the Porirua Hospital
Associated Football (soccer) team prior to 1914,[iv] so may have arrived in Porirua to join up with men he knew and had played soccer with.[v] Joseph was signed up by Major McKillop[vi] who prior to the outbreak of the war had been the Superintendent, and also involved with the soccer team, of the Porirua Mental Hospital.
  
Following training at Trentham Camp 3/383 Private Alexander left as part of the 2nd Reinforcements, Mounted Ambulance, New Zealand Medical Corps. The 2nd Reinforcements arrived in Egypt in January 1915 and Private Alexander was attached to the Divisional Ammunition Column.   There is no record of Private Alexander going to Gallipoli he remained as part of
the Egyptian Expeditionary Force defending the Suez Canal and Sinai.
 
In December 1915 following the evacuation of ANZAC forces from Gallipoli there was a redistribution of man power with Private Alexander transferring, on 27th December 1915, to the News Zealand Field Artillery. It may have been a final ‘celebration’ with his old unit or a training accident but Gunner Alexander was admitted on the same day to the New Zealand General Hospital with a fractured right leg. Gunner Alexander remained in hospital in Egypt until March 1916
when he was shipped to England to convalescence. In June 1916 Gunner Alexander was released for active service, undergoing training with the 16th Howitzer Battery, NZFA in preparation for service in France.
 
Prior to Christmas, on 23 December 1916, Joseph Herbert Alexander married Bertha Winifred Greenwood at the Woolwich Registry Office.[vii] It was a short honeymoon as on 6th January 1917 Gunner Alexander was sent to France. In France Gunner Alexander was transferred to the 4th Howitzer Battery a unit he would remain with until the end of the war. Gunner Alexander only saw his wife during the next two years with the two-week furloughs he was granted in August
1917 and 1918.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
New Zealand Field Artillery in action on the Western Front 
 
Gunner Alexander returned to England on 29th August 1918 as part of ‘Duty Furlough.’  Duty Furlough was granted to
New Zealand Expeditionary Forces members who had served for four years were able to apply to return, for family or personal reasons, and would be granted 28 days leave in New Zealand.[viii]  It is probable that Gunner Alexander
arranged for his wife to also come to New Zealand if so they would have left England on the SS Tofua on 8th November 1918, three days before the Armistice was signed arriving in New Zealand on 23rd December 1918, two days before the first peace time Christmas.
 
Gunner Alexander was quickly demobilised and on 20th January 1919 returned to civilian life. It is highly possible that Joseph Alexander returned to work at Porirua Hospital but as a married man could not live at the hospital moving to Harbour View Rd, Northland, Wellington where his medals were sent in 1920.
 
Joseph Herbert Alexander’s death at Raumati Beach, Kapiti Coast, on 22nd March 1963 was reported by his widow Bertha Winifred Alexander.
 
 References:
Mental about Wests - 100 years of fame, fortune, drama & despair:  PHC Lucas & H Moran
Military Files – Archway Archives New Zealand ; 3/383 Private Joseph Herbert Alexander
Papers Past Online
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Photos:
Howitzer at Haucourt  - Nugent Welch: NCWA_00422 Archway, Archives New Zealand  
NZFA moves up to the Front (France 1917) RSA Collection Alexander Turnbull 
  
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military files: 3/383 Trooper Joseph Herbert Alexander
[ii] NZ Internal Affairs – BDM Online: Marriage 1914/3082 Mary Alexander/William Henry Miles
[iii] Evening Post 17 October 1914 - List of men selected – Ambulance:  H Alexander, A Foley, H Foster, H Heath, K Munro, P S Roots, W Skinner, A H Topham, F W Walsh   
[iv] Evening Post 16 March 1915 - Footballers at the Front – Hospital
[v] Hospital AFC players enlisting together: Alexander, Foley, Foster, Heath, Roots, Skinner & Walsh.
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military files: 3/383 Trooper Joseph Herbert Alexander
[vii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military files: 3/383 Trooper Joseph Herbert Alexander
[viii] Evening Post 11 February 1918:  Soldiers’ Privileges
  
New Zealand Field Artillery moves up to the front - France 1917