Private Edwin James Abbey – London Rifles

Edwin James Abbey was born in Moscow, Russia about 1898 to ‘English Parents’[i] it is possible that they were of
Scottish descent.  The Abbey family probably  moved back to England prior to the start of World War One settling in
the Sussex area.

On 18th April 1916 Edwin J Abbey enlisted in the Queen Own Royal Glasgow Yeomanry (QORG). The QORG was originally based in the Glasgow area but in April 1916 moved down to Essex as part of the 65th (2nd Lowland) Division)[ii]. As a Territorial Force the QORG was intended for home defence during wartime and those who were part of the force could
not be sent overseas without their agreement.  Private Abbey served at ‘home’ from 18th April 1916 to 29th December
1916 when he transferred from the QORG Yeomanry to the London Rifles (see notes) and from 29th December 1916
to 16th March 1917 his records note he was with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) potentially serving in France.
Private Abbey returned to England on 16th March 1917 remaining at ‘home’ except for 19 day in September 1917.
Private Abbey again was in France from 4th June 1918. Private Abbey’s records end on 7th October 1918 with the notation – wounded.[iii]

Edwin James Abbey moved up to the Glasgow area after World War One in 1921 married Winifred Eleanor Benger/Cumming.[iv] The marriage was registered in Patrick a district of the wider Glasgow area. The couple had one son Arthur Abbey born in 1922. The couple later divorced.[v]

In 1926 Edwin James Abbey left England on the SS Rotorua[vi] for New Zealand. The 27 year old is listed as a farmer, 
his last residential address was Hillshead, Glasgow.

In New Zealand Edwin first went to Oamaru, Otago and is registering,on the 1928 Electoral Rolls, as a farmer at Elderslie. Edwin then moved to the North Island working as a farmhand at Midar, Danneverke during the early 1930’s before moving up to National Park. The 1938 Electoral Rolls for Waimarino record him as a Tractor Driver, at Keteahi, Tongariro.

On 25 November 1938 the Auckland Star carried the report from ‘their own correspondent in Taumarunui.’[vii]

                ‘When engaged jacking a log in the bush at Messrs, Weir and Kenny’s Mill, National Park,
                yesterday, Mr E. J. Abbey, a mill worker, suffered severe injuries, the log slipping and
                rolling on him. His chest was crushed. He was conveyed in the St John ambulance to the
               Taumarunui Hospital. His condition to-day was satisfactory.’

Edwin survived the accident but it must have impacted his general health as he was later admitted to Porirua Mental Hospital where he died on 26th June 1940.

Edwin James Abbey is buried in the Porirua Cemetery.

N.B. The grave is in poor condition but a small team of 
volunteers is looking to have it restored prior to the
100th Commemmretion of Armistice Day on 
11th November 2018.  (29th August 2018) 

In 1940 the majority of WW1 soldier’s army service records
were burnt when the Army Records Centre, London was hit
during a German air raid.[viii] There are some records
available for Edwin J Abbey but they have suffered from
charring in the fire and are incomplete.

Paperspast Online
NZ Electoral Rolls 1928 – 1938

Abbey grave Porirua Hospital – Simon Strombom

[i]      NZ BDM Death Certificate 1940/27690
[ii]     QORG Yeomanry: Wikipedia
[iii]    UK British Army records pension records.
[iv]    WWW.scotlandspeople.govt.uk
[v]     NZ BDM Death Certificate 1940/27690
[vi]    UK Outbound passengers 1926 SS Rotorua
[vii]   Bushman Injured, 25th November 1938, Auckland Star
[viii] The fire at Arnside Street – www.longlongtrail.co.uk

Edwin James Abbey's grave