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47802 Rifleman Thomas Ecclestone – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Thomas Ecclestone was born on the 15th September 1887 in Coromandel the youngest child of James and Mary Anne Ecclestone[i].

In 1917 Thomas Ecclestone enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Thomas Ecclestone attended a medical assessment at Te Aroha, Coromandel and was passed a Fit A.

When Thomas entered camp on the 12th February 1917 he is listed as a bushman working for the Kauri Timber Company of Coromandel and his next of kin, his mother Mrs Mary Ecclestone of Coromandel[ii].

Following basic training 47802 Private Thomas Ecclestone on the 9th June 1917 sailed for overseas service in A Company, 26th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment. Private Ecclestone, on arrival, in August 1917 was posted into the Reserve Battalion, Auckland Infantry and by September 1917 had been sent to France. In France, on the 9th October 1917, Private Ecclestone was posted to 6th (Hauraki) company, 3rd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment and his first experiences in the trenches would have been the Battle of Passchendaele launched on the 12th October 1917 which resulted in 3700 New Zealand casualties of which 46 officers and 800 men were killed. The day remains the blackest day
in New Zealand military history.

In January 1918 Private Ecclestone spent a month with the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company and on his return, 24th February 1918, was posted as Rifleman Ecclestone, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade. The NZRB was in trenches of the old La Signy Sector, east of Colincamps when Rifleman Ecclestone was wounded on the 11th May 1918. Rifleman Ecclestone was evacuated to the rear with a gunshot wound to his left leg. The wound was not severe as Rifleman Ecclestone was back on active service on the 9th August 1918 in time for the Battle of Bapaume.

The final action for Rifleman Ecclestone was the capture of Le Quesnoy on the 4th November 1918. The capture of the
town cost the NZ Rifle Brigade thirty seven men killed with two hundred and fifty wounded. Rifleman Ecclestone was one
of the wounded suffering a gunshot wound to his foot. Rifleman Ecclestone was evacuated to the No 1 NZ General
Hospital, Brockenhurst, England where he remained until the 12th March 1919 when he was repatriated on the NZ
Hospital Ship Maheno.

Rifleman Ecclestone remained in hospital in New Zealand until his discharge, on account of wounds received, on the
28th March 1920. Thomas Ecclestone’s address is listed as the Auckland Military Hospital, Cricket Avenue, Mt Eden, Auckland.[iii]

Thomas Ecclestone was granted a war disability of 30% due to the injuries received in action.[iv]

Thomas Ecclestone married Maria Noble in 1925.

Thomas Ecclestone died on the 27th December 1971.

Notes
A Thomas Ecclestone is recordered on the Pauatahanui District Roll of Honour held in St Alban’s Church Pauatahanui.
47802 Rifleman T Ecclestone is the only Thomas Ecclestone to serve during WW1 in the NZEF and the only Thomas Ecclestone of the right
age to be born and die in New Zealand. It is possible that at the start of the war Thomas was working as a bushman in the Pauatahanui
area and was known to those who compiled the list.  
It is also possible that there was another Thomas Ecclestone who served with other armed forces.

References
NZ BDM
Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 47602 Rifleman Thomas Ecclestone
The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade: NZETC 

Photo
​Scaling the Walls of Le Quesnoy: Archives New Zealand 

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 47802 Rifleman Thomas Ecclestone
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 47802 Rifleman Thomas Ecclestone
[iv] Auckland Cenotaph 47802 Thomas Ecclestone

  
Scaling the Walls of Le Quesnoy - 4th November 1918