War cut short for railway fireman
Mathew Spowart survived 36 days at war.
The railway fireman from Tuatapere was sent to France with the Otago company, 13th reinforcements, in August 1916.
Serving as a private, he joined the charge at the battle of Somme. During the rain on September 16, he was shot in the back. He was admitted to the 1st Canadian General Hospital at Estaples in northern France. But his wounds were too serious, and on September 22, 1916, less than two months after he joined the effort, Spowart died. He was 23. He is buried at the Estaples Military Cemetery.
The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the Western Front. More than one in nine of the 18,000 NZ Division were killed.
swapped a classroom for the battlefield. The teacher from Invercargill had studied medicine at Otago University before the war, so he was put to work with the NZ Field Ambulance on the western front. On October 1, 1916, he was shot in the head and arms. He made a full recovery and he re-joined his unit.
In 1918 he transferred to the infantry. While leading his men on an attack on a French village, he was shot again, this time in the back and abdomen. He died and is buried a Doullens communal cemetery in France.