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3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques - New Zealand Medical Corps
 
William Jacques was born on the 16th December 1885 in Derbyshire, England. It is likely that as a young single man
he was recruited, in the early 1900’s, to come to New Zealand to work in New Zealand’s Mental Health system.
 
Following the declaration of World War One a large number of the men working at the Porirua Mental Hospital
enlisted to serve in the Samoa Expeditionary Force and then the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. William was a
single 30 year old working as an attendant at the Porirua Asylum when he enlisted on the 24th September 1915.[i]
 
William’s enlistment papers note his mother Ann Jacques of Barrington North, Chesterfield, Derbyshire was his next
of kin. Medical notes on William’s file indicate that his teeth were ‘sufficient’ and this with his age may have resulted in
him being posted, on 4th December 1915,  to the newly commissioned No2 New Zealand hospital ship, His Majesty’s
New Zealand Hospital Ship HMNZHS Marama.[ii]
 
On the 5th December 1915 the HMNZHS Marama sailed on her first charter heading to Alexander Egypt where she
picked up 600 casualties from Gallipoli and Salonika and took these patients to Southampton for treatment in English hospitals. Marama returned to the Mediterranean serving as a floating hospital for Allied troops fighting in the Balkans returning again with 500 casualties to England. On her third trip to the Mediterranean the Marama shipped the New Zealand General Hospital to England as the NZEF focus was now on the Western Front. The Marama was used in 1916
to evacuate, to England, the sick and wounded from the major battles of the Somme. Many of the wounded not only suffered from physical wounds but also from mental illness ‘shell shock.’ The first charter was completed when the Marama returned to New Zealand with 500 New Zealand casualties arriving in New Zealand on 22nd October 1916.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
HMNZHS Marama
 
Private Jacques remained in New Zealand when the HMNZHS Marama left on her next voyage possibly being redeployed to Porirua or one of the military hospitals. Private Jacques was promoted to Sergeant on the 2nd September 1917
prior to rejoining the Marama on the 22nd September 1917 when the hospital ship made a returned voyage to England
to pick up the wounded.
 
Sergeant Jacques rejoined the HMNZHS Marama on the 31st January 1918 this time as a married man. William Jacques married Annie Gibbs on the 1st January 1918. It was on this journey while on transit from New Zealand to England that Sergeant Jacques had, on 2nd February 1918 two toes amputated. There are no notes why the procedure was done
the only clue in Sergeant Jacques military file is that he had Hallux Vulgus[iii] and this may have been sever enough to warrant the removal of his toes.
 
On the return journey one of the 500 wounded men travelling on the
vessel was 46227 Private Harry Reginald Dodson(my grandfather – Ed)
and the tag from the pack store is a souvenir of that journey home.
 
 
 
HMNZHS Marama pack tag
 
 
 
On arrival back to New Zealand Sergeant Jacques remained onshore
from May 1918 to February 1919 when he boarded the HMNZHS Marama
for his final journey to England with the ship to pick up remaining
wounded from hospitals in England. Sergeant Jacques returned to
New Zealand and was signed off the HMNZHS Marama on the 17th July
1919 and finally discharged from the NZEF ‘on termination of his period
of engagement’[iv] on the 19th Septe4mber 1919.
 
Prior to his discharge Sergeant Jacques was one of four Porirua ‘boys’ who were given a public welcome home as
reported in the 8th September 1919 Evening Post;[v]
 
            ‘On Friday evening, at Porirua, a public welcome home was
            accorded  several  boys belonging to the district  who  have
            recently returned from active service.  Those present were
            Sergeant - Major  Dear, Sergeant  Jacques  and  Hughes and
 Private Russell. The Rev. Mr Earwaker who presided, extend
-ed  to them a hearty welcome on  behalf  of  Porirua,  and
spoke  feelingly of the maimed and those who would  never
return. The Rev Mr. Walton, in a stirring address, urged that
some  tangible  memento  of  the  great  war  and  the part
played  in  it  by  the  local  boys  should  be  obtained.  He
suggested that those present  should interest themselves in
a scheme that was being mooted for the purchase of land to
make  a local park, thereby give the younger generation  the
opportunity to  take part  in  manly  games and  become  fit
citizens of  the  future.  Messers  P Mungavin,  T Harris  and
J Wi Neera  also  spoke. Sergeant-Major Dear responded  for
 the returned men. He thanked the Residents of Porirua  for
the hearty reception they had received. The New Zealanders
had  seen and lived in  many  countries since 1914, but  they
were always glad to return to their own land. The soldier had
suffered and endured much, but he thought the mothers and
loved ones left in suspense in New Zealand had generally
suffered as much. They had no excitement or changing scenes
to cheer them up. But always had the dread of the postman’s
knock. To those present who had lost dears ones he extended,
as a returned soldier, his sincere sympathy.’
 
William Jacques returned to work at Porirua Hospital and established a home in Porirua with the Jacques children attending
Porirua School.[vi]
 
In 1943 William Jacques was living on Main Road, Porirua. William had been struck by an army truck on the drive of Porirua Mental Hospital where he was employed as a bus driver.[vii]
 
William Jacques died on the 27th February 1960 his death being reported to the Defence Department by his widow Annie Jacques.
 
Notes:
Hallux Valgus is the lateral distortion of the big toe – see Wikipedia for more details.
55264 Sergeant-Major Lewis Henry Dear, Wellington Infantry Regiment
3/691 Sergeant George William Hughes NZ Medical Corps (ex Porirua Hospital)
3/1279 Private Charles Henry Russell, NZ Medical Corps (ex Porirua Hospital)
Also sailing on the HMNZHS Marama  - 75653 Private Horace Harry Batten  NZMC (ex Porirua Hospital)
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques
Papers Past Online
Union Steam Ship Company –SS Marama: www.ssmarintime.com/Marama
 
Photos:
Text and background - HMNZHS Marama: Wallace Trickett
HMNZHS Marama tag: Dodson collection
 
[i] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military: 3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military: 3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military: 3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military: 3/1328 Sergeant William Jacques
[v] Welcome Home (8 September 1919)  Evening Post
[vi] School Prizes (12th December 1925)  Evening Post
[vii] Accidents (4th December 1943) Evening Post