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8/1429  Private Harold Phillip James Childs - Otago Infantry 
   
Harold Phillip James Childs was born in Chertsey, Canterbury the third of seven children born to Tom and Emma (nee ????) Childs. Harold had two older brothers, Tom jnr and Bonnie with two younger brothers Cecil and Stanley and two younger sisters Muriel and Clara[i]. 

Harold Phillip James Childs’ father, Tom Childs, was for over twenty years, the owner of the Commercial Hotel in
Palmerston North[ii]. Like other prominent businessmen and farmers from the Palmerston North area, the Childs family
came for holidays at Plimmerton Beach. The holiday residents  often owned  their own beach house or used one of the many hotels or boarding houses in Plimmerton village.

All five of the Childs brothers attended Wellington College.
Harold Phillip James Childs attended the College between 1908 and
1911[iii]. It is noted in college records the Harold Childs was good at
sport with particular mention being made of boxing, gymnastics and
athletics where he won various competitions in schools sports
events. Harold Childs was also in the 1st XV and 1st XI during his
schools years captaining both teams in  1911 the year he was Head
Prefect. In 1921 Harold  Childs'  younger brother Stanley (Stan)
also served as Head Prefect. 

Wellington College Prefects  - 1911


Harold Child moved to university in Dunedin where he  maintained
his sports being listed as a member of NZ University Rugby team
that toured Australia in 1913; he also represented the Otago Province 1912 – 1914.[iv] Harold  Childs is listed as a middle weight boxer for Otago University.

When Harold Phillip James Childs enlisted in December 1914 he is noted
as a 20 year old university student, a resident of Knox College, Dunedin[v] where he was studing in the School of MInes.  

Harold Phillip James Childs sailed as 8/1429 Sergeant Childs, 3rd Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion in February 1915 for Egypt. 


8/1429 Sergeant H P J Childs  1914


The 3rd Reinforcements arrived in Egypt 27 March 1915 and Sergeant  Childs reverted to the rank of Private when the 3rd Reinforcements were incorporated into the Main Body of the Otago Infantry.  The Otago Battalion with battalions from Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury made up the New Zealand Infantry Brigade. 

The stay in Egypt was short as transports carrying the New Zealand and Australian Division left Alexandria 12 April 1915  for Mudros, a small Greek port on the island of Lemnos prior to the assault on Gallipoli. [vi]

It was the afternoon of 25 April 1915 when the Otago Infantry Battalion landed. The Battalion was initially held in Brigade support positions on Plugges Plateau. It was then moved into the firing line on Walkers Ridges. Given the confusion at ANZAC Cove, Private Childs was reported wounded between the 25th and 28th of April 1915.[vii]

The service records list that Private Childs was wounded in the legs and a foot possibly from Turkish artillery that was reported to be very accurate and effective.  Another member of the Otago Infantry Battalion noted in his diary

‘Ryburn turned up safely but there is no word of Adamson. I am afraid he is lost. Both Childs and McQueen are away wounded and my cousin Lt Egglestone is away wounded.’[viii]

Private Childs was evacuated by sea to Egypt, landing at Heliopolis where he was admitted on 2 May 1915 to the 1st Australian Hospital.[ix] Private Childs remained in hospital for six weeks and then was returned to his battalion landing again at ANZAC Cove 26 June 1915.

The conditions at Gallipoli, on both sides, at this stage were notorious. In the summer, the heat was atrocious, and in conjunction with bad sanitation, led to so many flies that eating became extremely difficult. Corpses, left in the open, became bloated and stank. The precarious Allied bases were poorly situated and caused supply and shelter problems. A dysentery epidemic spread through the Allied trenches in both Anzac and Helles.[x] The disease caused by extreme heat and unsanitary conditions would prove to be almost as deadly as Turkish fire[xi]

The Otago Infantry Battalion in June / July 1915 was defending Courtney’s Post and it was into these conditions that
Private Childs returned, as noted in the diary of another Otago Infantry Battalion member;

‘June 27 Sunday again and we have Childs back with us – only to break down again.

July 16 – Childs was again carried away on a stretcher, yesterday, quite a wreck with enteric and dysentery.
He returned too soon and should have had a longer rest after his wound.’[xii]

He was evacuated from the Dardanelles, 16 July 1915 with Enteric Fever on the Hospital Ship H.S Sicilia, but died in transit to Mudros, Greece 27 July 1915 and was buried at sea.[xiii]

8/1429 Private Harold Phillip James Childs is honoured at the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey and at Wellington College
and on the Palmerston North War Memorial.[xiv]

Private Childs service record note that his father Tom Childs, Plimmerton was sent in 1921 -23 Private H P J Childs’ medals:
the 1914 – 15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal and a named commemorative plague and commemorative scroll
given to all families who lost kin in the Great War.

Tom Childs was involved in the planning committee was formed to build a pavilion in Victory Park, Plimmerton which was constructed in 1926. The majority of those on the committee had either served in the World War One or had lost relatives in the conflict.

References
NZ BDM
Wellington College Archives
Paperspast Online
Gallipoli-The New Zealand Story; Christopher Pugsley, Reed Books 1998
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
Otago Infantry Battalion - NZ Electronic Text online 

Photos 
1911 Wellington College Prefects - Wellington College Archives
8/1214 Sergeant Harold Phillip James Childs - Palmerston North Library 
Background - Memorial Stained Glass window commemorating WW1 - Wellngton College

[i] NZ BDM 
[ii] Tom Childs obituary Evening Post Volume CIX, Issue 116, 20 May 1925.
[iii] Wellington College Archives.
[iv] University Selections, 24th March 1913, New Zealand Truth 
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 8/1429 Private Harold Phillip James Childs 
[vi] Otago Infantry Battalion, NZETC.org
[vii]Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 8/1429 Private Harold Phillip James Childs 
[viii] Pg 183 Gallipoli – The New Zealand Story; Christopher Pugsley; Reed Books 1998.
[ix] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 8/1429 Private Harold Phillip James Childs 
[x] Wikipedia Gallipoli.
[xi] History of the Canterbury Regiment
[xii] Pg 258 Gallipoli – The New Zealand Story; Christopher Pugsley; Reed Books 1998.
[xiii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 8/1429 Private Harold Phillip James Childs 
[xiv] Palmerston North Library Archives
  

  
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