5/169a Corporal William (Willie) Leonard Snelgrove M.I.D.  – Divisional Train, Army Service Corp

Willie Leonard Snelgrove was born on 8th February 1890 in Bromley, Kent, England the ten children born to
Fanny Jean (nee Knight) and William (Willie) John Snelgrove[i].

The family grew up in the Bromley area but in the early 1900’s Willie’s two older brothers Albert (Bertie) James and
John (Jack) Richard Snelgrove immigrated to New Zealand[ii].

On the outbreak of World War One, Bertie enlisted in New Zealand Expeditionary Force as 4/580 Sapper Albert James Snelgrove, NZ Engineers on 13th August 1914.Bertie lists his mother Mrs Fanny Snelgrove, London as his next of kin.
In England two weeks later Bertie’s two younger brothers Willie and Fred both enlisted on 28th August 1914 in the
British Section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Both 4/169a Driver William (Willie) Leonard and
4/170a Driver Frederick (Freddie) Charles King Snelgrove were enrolled in the NZ Army Service Corp.
4/169a Driver Snelgrove is listed as a single man employed as a chauffeur, based at the Cavalier Hotel, Woburn Square, London. The two   brothers list their mother Mrs Fanny Jean Snelgrove as their next of kin.

The British Section of 232 men was made up from New Zealanders who were in the United Kingdom at the start of the
war, or men like the Snelgroves who had close ties to New Zealand. They were signed up rather than returning to New Zealand prior to enlisting. The New Zealand army also had a better rate of pay than the British.

The British Section left England on 12th December 1914 and on arrival in Egypt the joined with the Main Body of the
NZEF. The two younger brothers, Willie and Fred, reunited with their older brother Bertie.

All three brothers served at Gallipoli with 5/169a Driver Snelgrove serving for 18 weeks on Gallipoli. Driver Snelgrove’s military file note that he was promoted to Corporal Snelgrove on 25th June 1915[iii].

Corporal Snelgrove was evacuated to the Hospital Ship HMHS Formosa on 28th August 1915, he was suffering dysentery and defective vision. It is possible that the diet on Gallipoli contributed to the defective vision.

On arrival on 1st September 1915 Corporal Snelgrove was assessed by a medical board and it was recommended that
he be returned to New Zealand. While Corporal Snelgrove was waiting for shipment to New Zealand he was on
22nd September 1915 one of a number of NZEF personnel given ‘special mention in dispatches’ from Sit Ian Hamilton, General for service on Gallipoli.

Corporal Snelgrove departed Egypt on 23rd September 1915 one of 450 service personnel being invalided to New Zealand. On arrival on 26th October 1916 in Christchurch Corporal Snelgrove was moved up to Wellington where an older brother Jack and his family were living.

Corporal Snelgrove was given medical treatment both as an in and out patient but on 25th January 1916 went before a medical board where it was decided he was no longer fit for service.

Corporal Snelgrove was finally discharged on 28th March 1916 returning to civilian life in a new country.

In October / November 1918 the deadly Influenza Pandemic struck New Zealand and it would eventually kill 9000 people.

On 7th December 1918 the Evening Post carried a death notice[iv]:

                          SNELGROVE – On the 3rd December 1918 at Johnsonville Temporary Hospital.
                          Willie Leonard Snelgrove of Porirua. Deeply mourned
                                            Inserted by his loving sisters & brothers.

Willies death certificate notes that he was working as a motor mechanic in Porirua and had been moved, when he fell ill,
to Johnsonville.

On 3rd December 1919 an In Memoriam was published:

                           Snelgrove – In loving memory of our mate William Snelgrove who departed this life on the
                           3rd December 1918.
                           Memory is the only link that holds
                                             Inserted by Stevie and Doddie

William (Willie) Leonard Snelgrove, like many flu victims are buried in an unmarked grave but Veteran’s Affairs and Porirua City Council will be approached to rectify this.

There are potentially 33 flu victims buried in Porirua District Cemeteries the majority are in the Porirua Cemetery although it is not
know how many are buried in local Urapa.

4/580 Sapper Albert James Snelgrove – Divisional Signals Company, NZ Engineers
5/170a Sergeant Frederick Charles King Snelgrove –Field Bakery, Div Train, Army Service Corp

UK Census 1901 & 1911 – Ancestry
Archway Archives Military Files
Snelgrove Family – Ancestry

Unmarked grave old Porirua Cemetery.

[i] Ancestry.com
[ii] NZ BDM & NZDF Archives
[iii] NZDF Archives
[iv] Death Notice, 7th December 1918



Porirua town center 1920