11/108 Trooper Lionel Douglas Nairn  –  Wellington Mounted Rifles

James Nairn arrived in New Zealand from Scotland in 1863 and purchased land in the Khandallah area in 1865.
James married Louisa Alexandra Balfour Chapman in 1869[i]. Louisa was also of Scottish descent. Part of the area the family farmed was later named Nairnville.

Lionel Douglas Nairn was the ninth of eleven children born on the 31st May 1891[ii] he had five sisters and five brothers. Raised in Khandallah he went to college at Wellington College where he he competed in running events and also was in College Rifles.

After Lionel left college and when he reached 20 he served his compulsory military training with 6th (Manawatu)
Mounted Rifles from 1911 to 1914[iii]. It is possible during this period he was also working as a farm hand for his brother Stewart Henry Nairn on the family’s Takapu Road farm in Tawa Flat.

Lionel was among the first to volunteer on the outbreak of war entering camp in Palmerston North as
11/108 Trooper Lionel Douglas Nairn, 6th (Manawatu) Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles.  Lionel lists his father
James Nairn, Khandallah as his next of kin and while he was working for S H Nairn lists Khandallah as his residence.

Following training Trooper Nairn left with the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 15th October 1914. On arrival in Egypt the Wellington Mounted Rifles underwent future training but also had time to socialise with an interesting souvenir being reported in the 13th March 1915 edition of the NZ Times:

An interesting souvenir of a reunion of Wellington College Old Boys, which took place at
the Grand Continental Hotel, Cairo on 23rd January 1915.
(Among the 40 men listed is L. D. Nairn. 6th W.M.R.)

The Wellington Mounted Rifles (WMR) remained in Egypt defending the Suez Canal when the infantry were dispatched
to Gallipoli. The WMR were landed at Gallipoli later in May landing on the 12th May 1915. Trooper Nairn spent 13 weeks
on the peninsular and was involved in the August 1915 Battle of Chunuk Bair. Another 6th Squadron man
11/24 Lance Corporal Eric Hector Dunstan Craw noted in his dairy[iv].

‘ on the 6th and 7th big advance on the left of ANZAC was not there at Imbros,
but our Squadron practically annihilated  out of 90 about 13 remain.’

While Trooper Nairn survived the battle the impact of the 13 weeks took its toll and Trooper Nairn was evacuated on
the Hospital Ship (HS) Alqanuia on the 13th August 1915 with influenza and admitted to the No 1 Australian Hospital,
Cairo on the 14th August 1915 where he remained until the 4th September 1915 when he was transferred to the
NZ and Austalian Convalescent Hospital, Zeitoun where he was assessed, still suffering from dysentery and tonsillitis
he was declared unfit and arrangements were made to return him to New Zealand for rest. Trooper Nairn left Egypt on
the 25th September 1915. On arrival in New Zealand on 30th October 1915 Trooper Nairn was granted two months
leave but following another medical examination in January 1916 he was discharged as ‘medically unfit.’

Lionel initially went to live with his parents but then moved to the family’s farm in Takapau Road, Tawa Flat. Lionel
worked for his brother Stewart Henry Nair prior to Stewart enlisting in the NZEF.

In April 1919 Lionel Douglas Nairn won a seat on the Makara Country Council representing the Porirua Riding. Lionel
would represent the riding through to 1926[v].

In August 1919 Lionel married Grace Alice Henry the couple made Tawa their home and raised two children
Donald James Henry (1920) and Shirley Grace Nairn (1929).[vi]

Lionel served in the Home Guard during World War II as a Sergeant in the Hutt Mounted Home Guard.[vii]

In the early 1950’s Lionel and Grace Nairn retired to live on Main Road, Paremata, Porirua. Lionel was still living in
Paremata when he died on 19th August 1974[viii].

Lionel and Grace’s son served in the Fleet Air Arm as Lieutenant (A) Donald James Henry Nairn R.N.Z.N.V.R.
65435 Rifleman Stewart Henry Nair, New Zealand Rifle Brigade was killed in action on the Western Front. 

Paperspast Online
Unpublished diary 11/24 Bombadier Eric Hector (Hector) Craw
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files.

ANZAC Cove 1915

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] NZ BDM
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 11/108 Trooper Lionel Douglas Nairn
[iv] Unpublished diary 11/24 Bombadier Eric Hector Craw
[v] Retiring Councillors, 26th May 1926, Evening Post
[vi] North Isles Family History (Shetland database)
[vii] Mounted Home Guard Sports, Hutt News, 12th May 1943.
[viii] North Isles Family History  

ANZAC Cove - 1915