2/2041 Driver Francis Joseph Ashworth – NZ Field Artillery (Divisional Ammunition Column)

Francis (Frank) Joseph Ashworth was born on the 17th December 1892 in Christchurch the eldest son in a family of eight born to Elizabeth (Lizzie) and George Samuel Ashworth.[i]

Lizzie and George move from Christchurch to Wellington in 1898/99 with George starting work as an attendant in the Porirua Mental Hospital. [ii] Four of the Ashworth children enrolled in 1899 at the Porirua School, Frank with his older
twin sisters Johanna and Georgina and his younger sister Lillian (Lilly) who had turned five. Frank’s younger brother
George and sisters Violet, Cherry and Marie were all enrolled at Porirua as they turned five.[iii]

On the 24th August 1915 Frank enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).  A 22 year old single man, Frank
is listed as living in Wanganui and working for George & Kersley Limited as a salesman. Frank’s next of kin was noted as
his father Mr George Ashworth, Awatea Street South, Porirua.

2/2041 Gunner Francis Joseph Ashworth left New Zealand on the 9th October 1915 as a member of the 7th Reinforcements, New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA).[iv] The 7th Reinforcements arrived in Egypt on the 18th November 1915 and were absorbed into the Main Body of the NZEF.  The Dardanelles Campaign was in its final weeks so Gunner Ashworth remained in Egypt.

On the 8th April 1916 Gunner Ashworth with other elements of the NZEF were shipped to France for service on the
Western Front. Gunner Ashworth was transferred to the Divisional Ammunition Column and he became 2/2401 Driver Ashworth.

There is little on Driver Ashworth’s military file apart from entries starting on the 14th April 1917 when he was admitted
'sick' to the No 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. Driver Ashworth was moved to No 55 General Hospital, Calais,
where he was diagnosed as having pleurisy. Driver Ashworth was evacuated to England and admitted to the No 2 NZ General Hospital, Walton on Thames. Driver Ashworth’s diagnosis was amended to ‘TB’ and after three months he was declared as no longer fit for active service and returned to New Zealand on the HMNZHS Marama.

On board the Marama  Driver Ashworth was again assessed and declared as unfit for active service and it was recommended that he be sent to the Waikato Sanatorium for treatment.

Driver Ashworth was discharged from the NZEF on the 8th October 1917 as ‘no longer fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service.’

Francis Joseph Ashworth was given a six month pension while he was recovering and initially he returned to his parents in Porirua.

On the 27th November 1917 the Evening Post reported on a reception held for him in Porirua[v]

               ‘In his address at Porirua at the reception given to Driver Francis Ashworth,
               Mr. R. A. Wright, M.P., stated that the Porirua Mental Hospital, of an
               original full staff of 69 men, had sent 48 to the front. Three of these were
               killed, four reported wounded, and seven were invalided home. . . . . . .’

Frank Ashworth returned to Wanganui, in 1921 where he signed for his three campaign medals; 1914-15 Star,
British War Medal and Victory Medal.

 Francis Joseph Ashworth married Gladys Sybil Petronella Van Dongen on the 26th December 1928.

In 1948 members of the Ashworth family returned to Porirua and the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Porirua School.  The class photo of pupils who attend ‘the class 1893 – 1902 contains the four older Ashworth children; Johanna, Georgina and Lillian with their brother Frank.

Porirua School Class 1893 - 1902 Frank, right middle row two of his sisters to his left and one sister seated in front of him.

Gladys was the daughter of a Christchurch builder Cornellus Josephus Van Dongen.[vi]  The couple moved to
Christchurch as Francis Joseph Ashworth is listed as dying in the Christchurch area on the 30th August 1986.

NZ BDM Online
Paperspast Online
Apex Icecream – Longwhitekid.

Porirua School 75th Anniversary Class of 1893-1902: Pataka Museum
Drivers of the NZFA feed their horses near Lumbres Northern France 1917 - RSA Collection

[i] BDM records 
[ii] 1901 New Zealand Post Office Directory
[iii] Porirua School records – reference.
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 2/2401 Driver Francis Joseph Ashworth
[v] Local News, 27th November 1917, Evening Post
[vi] Longwhitekid.wordpress.com
Drivers of the NZFA feed their horses France 1917