25/1634 2nd Lieutenant Harold George Carter – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Harold George Carter was born in Christchurch on 16th July 1895, the only son of George and Catherine Margrette Carter. 

The Carter family moved to Porirua in 1906/1907 when Harold’s father was appointed as a farm manager at Porirua
Mental Hospital.[i]  The family lived at the hospital and Harold and his younger sister, Dora, were enrolled at Porirua School.[ii]

When Harold was 16, as required for compulsory military training, he entered as a Cadet in the Senior Cadet’s
34 Company based in Johnsonville.[iii]

Senior Cadet Carter was promoted through the ranks and was the 34 Company’s Colour Sergeant in 1912. Colour Sergeant Carter was promoted when he turned 19, to 2nd Lieutenant, Officer Cadet  of the 34th Company.

On his 20th birthday Harold enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). Harold’s military files list him as warehouse man working for Hayman and Company. Harold was still living with his parents and younger sister at Porirua Hospital when he enlisted.

Harold entered Trentham Camp on the 26th October 1915 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Reserve Company
of the 11th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. It is probable that 2nd Lieutenant Carter’s age
resulted in his remaining at Trentham until April 1916 when he sailed as a member of G Company, 2nd Reinforcements
for the 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB). The Reinforcements were shipped first to Egypt arriving on
2nd May 1916 from where two weeks later, 2nd Lieutenant Carter was shipped to France. By the 23rd June 1916 he 
was in the front lines with B Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd NZRB.

On the 15th September 1916 B Company, 4th Battalion,
3rd NZRB was in the front line trenches at the Somme waiting to
‘Go over the Top.’  At zero hour, 6.20 a.m., the allies opened an
intense barrage on the German trenches. After six minutes this
barrage began to creep forward at a rate of 50 yards per minute
towards the Switch Trenches which were the first objective. The
2nd Auckland and 2nd Otago’s were the first to leave the front
lines. Ten minutes after zero the C Company and B Company of
the 4th Battalion 3rd NZRB moved into the attack.[iv] 

NZ Rifle Brigade Front line trenches Somme 1916

By 7.50am the objectives had been captured and work was underway
in construction of strong points and repairing the captured trenches in case of possible counter attacks. In just over an
hour the 4th Battalion had advanced 1000 yards during which they had been subject to heavy machine-gun and artillery fire. Casualties had been heavy and 2nd Lieutenant H G Carter had led B Company in the final assault as the Company Commander, Captain A J Powley, had been mortally wounded in the early stages of the advance. 2nd Lt Carter had been wounded but was able to carry on.[v]

B Company lost sixteen men either killed in action or dying from their wounds in the first five days of the action on the Somme, the majority of the casualties on the 15th September 1916. The majority of the  casualties have no known grave.

On the 17th September 1916 2nd Lt Carter became a casualty when he suffered shrapnel wounds to the left shoulder.
He was evacuated from the battlefield to the No 1 British Red Cross Hospital in Le Toquet, France. After being stabilised
at the hospital Lt Carter was evacuated to England and the No2  London General Hospital.  On the 5th October 1916 he
was transferred to the NZ Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch. 

Lt Carter was assessed by a medical board on the 10th November 1916:

‘This officer has fair movement of the left shoulder but is unable to do
physical drill. He is now suffering from influenza.

In January 1917 Lt Carter was again admitted to hospital with mumps (slight) but this developed into a bigger ear infection and by February 1917 Lt Carter was under treatment for Otitis Media. On the 23rd March 1917 Lt Carter was assessed at the No 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst. It was decided that the Otitis Media had  not improved and while his general health was good it could be up to three months before he would be fit for service.

The result was Lt Carter was   invalided back to New Zealand leaving England in April 1917,  arriving  in New Zealand in early July 1917.
There was another assessment in New Zealand on the 27th July 1917 where again Lt Carter was considered not fit for service and he was given leave and required to undergo treatment.

On the 11th November 1917, as Lt Carter’s ear was slow to heal, he was discharged from the NZEF and appointed as a Lieutenant in the Territorial’s. It was  in this role that he commanded a detachment of Territorial’s in  Peace Festivities at Porirua when a reception was given on the 22nd July 1919 to returning soldiers; Lieutenants  Cobb M.C.,  and P Munro, Corporal Katene, and Privates J Anderson, C Russell, and J Mepham.[vi]

Harold was with the Senior Cadets until 1921 when he was posted as a Territorial Officer to the Wellington Regiment and it was during this period with the Wellington Regiment that he married Mabel Gladys (Gladys) Mungavin in 1922. Gladys had also attended Porirua School and the Mungavin family farmed in the Porirua district.

The impact of the Battle of the Somme and the loss, on the 16th September 1916, of so many of his company was deep.  For a number of years Lieutenant Carter posted  in the Evening Post an In Memorium for B Company on the anniversary of the battle.[vii]

Evening Post 1922

In 1923 Harold was posted to the Hawkes Bay Regiment, by this stage Harold and Gladys had moved to Greytown. Harold is listed as a bookseller/stationary  in Main Street, Greytown. Harold remained a Territorial in the Hawkes Bay Regiment until 1933 when he was removed to the Reserve of Officers. Harold was called up in 1941 with the rank of Temporary Major of the Greytown Battalion of the Home Guard. When the threat to New Zealand decreased as the war continued, T/Major H G Carter was placed on the retired list on the 13th March 1944.
Gladys and Harold both attended the 1948 Porirua School Celebrations. Harold’s 1903 – 1912 Class also has other ex-soldiers; Taku Katene and Tom Windley.  Missing from the class is Tommy Dent one of five boys from Porirua School who were killed in World War One.

Gladys middle row third right                                                     Harold standing holding sign, Taku standing                                                                                                                             (rear) 2nd right

Harold George Carter died in Greytown on the 11th November 1951.    

B Company men who were killed on the 15th September 1916 at the Battle of the Somme or died of wounds received in the engagement
24/8       Captain Alfred James Powley M.C.
26/49     Sergeant Roland Llewellyn Armit
26/48     Corporal Henry Gordon Bland
26/402   Corporal Charles Douglas Ferguson
26/433   Rifleman Frederick Reginald Ashworth
26/92     Rifleman William Ivan Canton
26/339   Rifleman Ralph Capper
26/346   Rifleman Thomas Ackerby Shaw Harry
26/363   Rifleman John Mars
26/1656 Rifleman Frank MacAvoy
26/423   Rifleman Hugh Regardso Wilton
26/424   Rifleman Sidney Thomas Wilton

Online BDM
Online Paperspast
NZEF Roll of Honour
Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade
NZ History Online  – The Somme

Forward Somme Trenches 1916 – National Archives
Porirua School Reunion years – Pataka

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 25/1634 2nd Lt Harold George Carter
[ii] Porirua School Commemorations – pupil lists
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 25/1634 2nd Lt Harold George Carter
[iv] The Somme – NZ History online
[v] Official History
[vi] Peace Festivities at Porirua, 22nd July 1919, Evening Post
[vii] In Memoriam, 16th September 1922, Evening Post 
NZ Rifle Brigade in forward Trenches - Somme 1916