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12886 Sergeant George William (Bill) Schoch – New Zealand Field Artillery
 
The Anti-German League
 
George Adolphus Schoch, a Swiss national, and his English wife Alice Rose Schoch immigrated to New Zealand prior to 1884. The Schoch’s first child, Gertrude Helen Schoch, was born in New Zealand in 1884.[i] The Schoch’s then had two sons, George Rudolf William born in 1885 and Gerald Bruce born in 1892 although the boys in later life were known as George William and John Bruce Schoch.
 
The Schoch family were involved in the trials of farming silk worms in New Zealand and also in politics with both George and Alice holding high roles in the Liberal League. Alice was appointed in 1896 as an Official Visitor to the Porirua Asylum
a role she continued until her death in 1920. The Official Visitor was a role outside of the mental health department that was able to cast a critical eye on the running of the institute, also providing comfort and entertainment to the inmates.
 
The eldest son George (Bill) William Schoch joined, in 1903, as required under military training  the Herataunga Mounted Rifles and then transferred in 1908 to D Battery (Wellington), New Zealand Artillery. On the outbreak of the Great War
had risen to the rank of  Farrier-Sergeant of the Battery.[ii] When Bill enlisted in August 1914 he was employed as a Farm Employee at Porirua Mental Hospital. Bill had been in the district for a number of years, in 1913, playing for the Porirua Club, Juniors.[iii]
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Porirua Rugby Juniors c1913
 
    Bill Schoch (17)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
George’s departure for the Samoa Expeditionary Force was reported in the Evening Post 11th August 1914[iv]:
 
‘Dr McKillop[v] and Farrier-Sergeant Shcoch, who are to leave with the Expeditionary Force,
are members of the Porirua Hospital staff. They were given a great send off at the local station
last night.’  
 
2/7 Company Quartermaster Sergeant G W Schoch, as part of the Samoa Expeditionary Force, left Wellington on 11th August 1914 to capture the German colony. The capture of Samoa was without problems and the force settled in the boredom that was occupation. As another member of D Battery wrote back to New Zealand[vi]
                              ‘24th Nov 1914
Apia
Samoa
Dear Mr Shannon,     
I am just dropping you a few lines to thank you for the books and papers you have so kindly
been sending me. I can assure you they have been highly appreciated.   It is getting very
monotonous here now, and I will be glad to the end of Samoa. . . .’ (Notes)
 
CQMS Schoch returned to New Zealand on 22nd March 1915 and at his request was discharged from the army. Bill
Schoch returned to work at Porirua Hospital and when he re-enlisted in January 1916 his occupation is listed as a Civil Servant.
 
He entered Trentham Camp on 11th January 1916 as 12886 Corporal Schoch, 14th Reinforcements, New Zealand Field Artillery. Corporal Schoch was promoted to Sergeant in May 1916 prior to his unit leaving for France in June 1916.
 
Prior to sailing for France both Sergeant George William Schoch and
his younger brother Sergeant John Bruce Schoch were both targets on
1st June 1916 for anti-German questions in New Zealand’s parliament.
This started with questionsin the houses from the MP for Grey Lynn
(Mr Payne) to the Prime Minister[vii]
 
‘. . . . whether he would give the House an opportunity to express
itself by resolution on the followingpoints of the German question:
(1) Did the House endorse the inclusion in our military forces
(a) ofpersons whose parents, or either of them, were German by
birth, and (b) of person whose grandparents,or either of them
were of German birth? (2) Did the House endorse the inclusion
of persons in (a) and (b) or the retention of such persons in our
Civil Service? (3) What was the opinion of the House regarding the
internment of aliens in our midst?’
 
2/7 Company Quartermaster Sergeant G W Schoch c1915
 
The MP had named Sergeant Schoch as a German, the response from
the Minister of Defence was[viii]:
 
‘Sergt W G Schoch will leave New Zealand with the Artillery
of the 14th Reinforcements. This is the onlyman by the name
of Schoch in camp with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
He is not of alien enemy descent his late father was a Swiss
and his mother is of English birth and parentage.’
 
While Sergt W G Schoch was the only Schoch in camp his brother Sergt J B Schoch was serving in France so was also implicated so on 16th June 1916, the House the Minister of Defence read on 16th June 1916:[ix]
 
‘. . Letters establishing the pro-British proclivities of Sgt J B Schoch who reputation had been assailed.
The Minister said that Sergt Schoch had done good works at Gallipoli and had been twice wounded.’
 
The anti-German sentiments were not expressed by those who knew Bill Schoch as in the Evening Post a day before he sailed for France[x]
 
‘Sergt W Schoch, of Porirua, who is leaving with the artillery of the 14th Reinforcements, was
last week presented with a case of pipes by the members of the Porirua branch of the National
Reserve. Mr F A Mason, president of the branch, made the presentation. Sergt Schoch served
with the advance force which went to Samoa.’
 
Sergeant W G Schoch arrived in England in August 1916 and was sent to New Zealand’s Sling camp where, as was normal military procedure, reverted in the ranks to Gunner. Gunner Schoch was in Sling Camp when he received news of the death of his brother in France. 10/2884 Private John Bruce Schoch, 17th Company, 1st Battalion, Wellington Regiment was wounded , on 18th September 1916, in action at the Battle of the Somme, and died of his wounds ten days later. Posthumously, Private Schoch was awarded the Military Medal for Acts of Gallantry in Field during the capture of the French village of Flers. 
 
Gunner Schoch served in France being promoted through the ranks to Sergeant in December 1917 and was attached to the 16th Howitzer and then 4th Howitzer Batteries of the 3rd Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery. Sergeant Schoch remained in France until September 1918 when he was evacuated with gunshot wounds to both hands.
 
Sergeant Schoch did not return to France remaining in England until late January 1919 when, with the war over, he returned to New Zealand. Bill’s military records are hard to read on his treatment of wounds in New Zealand but he remained with the army until he was discharge on 25th November 1919 as ‘no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action (GSW both hands.)[xi]
 
Bill returned to civilian life and employment at the Porirua Hospital, he married Barbara MacAskill in 1926[xii] and
became involved in life in Titahi Bay with membership of the Masonic Lodge Ngatitoa, Porirua Rugby Club, Porirua Returned Soldiers Association, Titahi Bay Surf Life Saving Club and the Titahi Bay Progressive Association.
Bill died in 1950 with Barbara surviving him, dying in 1983.
 
Notes:
Portion of a letter written by 2/16 Bombardier Arthur Roland Charlton, D Battery, Samoan Expeditionary Force to Mr G V Shannon – a previous employer who had a holiday home at Plimmerton.
The Vella & Sascich families of Plimmerton and Siever family of Porirua were also subjected to claims of pro-German sentiments.
Porirua Rugby Club, Juniors May 1911: F Walsh. K Carter, Katene, R McTaggitt, J Chapman, P Mairs, Jepson, D Prosser, J Solomon, C King, J Gascorigne, H Simpson, T Wright, W Schoch, B Wilson, C Boulton, B walker.
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 2/7 & 12884 Sergeant William George Schoch
 
Photos:
Porirua Rugby Juniors c1911: Pataka Museum - Porirua
2/7 Company Sergeant Major W G Schoch: Onward Project (NZEF photos)
Background - NZ Howitzer in Action France: RSA Collection
 
[i] Births 1884/14812 Gertrude Helen Mary Schoch: NZ BDM
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 12886 Sergeant W G Schoch
[iii] Rugby Clubs Sides (16th May 1913) Dominion
[iv] Evening Post 11th August 1914:
[v] 3/43 Captain A C McKillop previously Dr A C McKillop Superintendant Porirua Mental Hospital
[vi] Palmerston North Library; unpublished Shannon papers
[vii] From the House (1st June 1916) Evening Post
[viii] Minister of Defence (1st June 1916) Evening Post
[ix] From the House (16th June 1916) Evening Post
[x] Untitled (15th June 1916) Evening Post
[xi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 12886 Sergeant W G Schoch
[xii] Marriage Schoch – MacAskill: NZ BDM 1926/2383
 
 
NZ Artillery in Action France 1917