2/1015 Gunner Alexander James (John) Hook – New Zealand Field Artillery

The family originated in Kent with Friend Hook arriving with his mother and two brothers in Wellington, New Zealand
in 1840.  Friend led an eventful life joining the militia during the New Zealand Wars and also tried his luck gold mining
at Gabriel’s Gully[i].

Friend married Martha Morgan[ii]  in 1862 and the couple moved out to Tawa where they carved out a farm and
Frederick was also employed by the Hutt County Council maintaining roads in the district. Friend and Martha had
fifteen children with the second, Frederick William Hook born in 1867.

Frederick William Hook married Janet Chambers in 1892, the couple had seven children. Frederick was employed as a roadman with the Hutt County and the family lived in Ohariu up until Frederick’s death in 1902[iii]. Janet brought up the young family with the support of Friend and Martha moving to live in Tawa Flat.

Alexander (Alex)  James Hook  was born in Ohariu Valley, Wellington on 18th ay 1895 the 3rd child in the family of seven born to Frederick William and Janet. Alex was employed as a Grocer by Baylie & Co, Westport when he enlisted on
19th September 1914. Alex was living in Westport but gave his mother Mrs Frederick William Hook, Tawa Flat as his next
of kin.

                                                                   2/1015 Gunner Hook had previous military training with the No 8 Company,
                                                                   NZ Garrison Artillery so was allocated to the Howitzer Battery, NZFA.  Following initial                                                                     training Gunner Hook left New Zealand on  14th December 1914 with the 2nd                                                                                   Reinforcements, NZ Field Artillery.

                                                                   2/1015 Gunner Alex Hook 

                                                                   On arrival in Egypt Gunner Hook was incorporated into the NZFA, Main Body NZEF                                                                           which had begun training for the campaign in the Dardanelles. Gunner Hook left                                                                             Egypt on 12th April 1915 and landed at ANZAC Cove once the beachhead was                                                                                   established. Gunner Hook remained on the peninsular with the 4th Howitzer Battery                                                                       through the whole of the campaign returning to Egypt on 22nd December 1915                                                                               following the evacuation of Gallipoli.

                                                                   The NZEF then went into a period of reinforcement, rearmament and reorganisation                                                                       as it trained for deployment on the Western Front. Gunner Hook left Alexandria,
                                                                   Egypt on  5th April 1915 and France. The NZ Division was initially deployed in a quiet                                                                       sector of the front, Armentieres to learn the arts of trench warfare.

Gunner Hook served through the major NZ actions  on the Somme but just prior to the 1917 Battle of Messines he was hospitalised with a ‘middle ear infection’ that keep him in hospital for a month only being released back to his unit on
25th June 1917. After almost three years of service Gunner Hook was granted two weeks leave on 18th August 1917
which was taken in England. On his return Gunner Hook was involved in support for the Battle of Passchendaele. In November 1917 Gunner Hook was sent back to England for training at Aldershot Camp. It was while Gunner Hook was
at Aldershot there was a possibility of him being granted, as a long service soldier, four weeks leave in New Zealand. Another Tawa soldier 50095 Gunner James (Wilf) Wilfred Mexted wrote back to his parents in January 1918[iv]:
Jim Carter from  Petone left here for home on Monday morning he is very pleased with himself.
I couldn’t see him on Monday morning before he left, but I saw him several times on Sunday he is
going out home of course he may reach there before this letter and I gave him Dorothies number
and address he said he would ring her as soon as he landed Wgtn. Alex Hook or Dugal or Tom Adams
didn’t get with that lot, but they will get their turn . . . . . .

Gunner Hook did not get the option as he was shipped back to France in
April 1918 as the need for men to combat the German spring offensive
became a priority. Gunner Hook remained in France on 26th August 1918
he suffered a gunshot wound to the left forearm. The wound was not
considered serious as he remained in France and was discharged from
hospital on 2nd September 1918. Gunner Hook was with his unit when
he was wounded as second time on 19th October 1918 with a gunshot
wound to his right knee. Although the wound is not listed as serious on
this occasion he was evacuated to England on 24th October 1918.
Gunner Hook was in hospital when the Armistice was signed on
11th November 1918 finally being discharged on 28th November 1918.

NZ Howitzers in action on the Western Front
Gunner Hook now remained in England while arrangements were made to repatriate members of the NZEF to New Zealand. Gunner Hook potentially because he was a long serving soldier was repatriated reasonably early leaving
England on 8th Janaury 1919.

Gunner Hool arrived in New Zealand on 22nd February 1919 and was granted a month's leave, on 21st March 1919
Gunner Hook was discharged on ‘termination of his period of engagement’ Alex had served
4 years and 153 days during his period of engagement.

Alex initially returned to his mother in Tawa Flat but was selected for a land ballot at The Heights, Shannon.
Alex’s 1914 -15 Star was sent to him there in 1920. The Heights was not successful and Alex returned to Tawa and went
into business with his brother Edgar Ernest Hook. The Hook Brother’s butcher shop operated from the early 1930
through to the 60’s[v].

In 1924 Alexander James (john) Hook married Helen (Nell) Elizabeth Kubler[vi].

Alexander James (John) Hook died on 7th October 1982 in Wellington and his ashes are intered in the Porirua Cemetery , Porirua with his mother, wife and a younger brother.

Two of Frederick’s younger brother’s served in the NZEF
                1/315 Private Frederick Leonard Hook – Samoa Advanced Party
                50380 Trooper Edgar Ernest Hook  Canterbury Mounted Rifles

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files

Alex Hook: Hook family collection 
NZ Howitzers in action Spice Farm 13th April 1918: RSA Collection 

[i]     Obituary, Special to the Evening Post, 30th November 1928, Evening Post
[ii]    NZ BDM
[iii]   A settlers sad end, 28th January 1902, Evening Post
[iv]  Unpublished letters 50095 Gunner Wilf Mexted to his parents 1917 - 1919
[v]   Wises Business Directories – Tawa Flat  1920 – 1970
[vi]  NZ BDM

NZ Howitzers in Action 13th April 1918 at Spice Farm