41747 Private James Albert Conrick – Wellington Infantry Regiment

James Albert Conrick was born in Ballarat, Victoria on 11th January 1892 he was the fifteenth child of sixteen children
in the Irish Catholic family of Edmund and Maria Conrick[i].

It is probable that after the death of his mother, in 1894, some elements of the family moved to the West Coast of
New Zealand and also to Porirua. Both James’ father and older brother William Patrick Conrick were working as
Hospital Attendants in the Porirua Mental Hospital at the start of the 1900’s[ii].

James was living in Australia at the start of World War One as he attempted to enlist in the Australian Imperial Forces,
at Ballarat, in September 1914 but he was rejected for defective eyesight.[iii]  In 1915  James came to Porirua to live with
his older brother William Conrick and his family and was working as a Hospital Attendant at Porirua Hospital. While
James was living and working in Porirua he was involved in a altercation between groups  of young men  over young
ladies employed at Porirua Hospital[iv] as reported in the NZ Truth on 7th April 1916.

Parochial Porirua
A push who punched and pummelled
Asylum Attendants versus the “Village Boy”
The Green-eyed monster again
That parochial feeling which has dominated the “attendants” at the
Porirua lunatic emporium broke out in real earnest the other day
and culminated in dire results to the “dials” of two young gentlemen
named Herbert Stevens and James Taylor, who are carpenters in the
“the village.’
Stevens charged James Conrick and Thomas Willing at the S.M’s. Court,
Wellington on Friday week, with having made the pace too willing
altogether, while James Taylor wanted a slice of William Alfred Myres
for the same reason.
The “village” boys were represented by Mr John McGrath, while the
“nut-factory” employees had Mr P J O’Regan to do battle for them,
Magistrate D> G. A. Cooper referred the match.
The general resume of the case which was to the effect the attendants
nursed a grudge against the village boys because they (the villagers)
“pinched their ‘tarts’ from them.”

Both James Conrick and Thomas Willing were convicted and fined five pounds plus costs.

Possibly because of the fight and court case James moved to Palmerston North and on 11th November 1916 James attended a medical examination prior to enlistment. The medical forms has been completed and where the question
of ‘ are there any slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejected ‘ the examiner has put no, even though on an early question on sight it was noted that he had practically nil vision in his left eye[v].

James signed his enlistment forms on the 13th November 1916, it was noted that he had been rejected by the AIF for
defect vision. James is liasted as employed as a fireman at the Palmerston North Fire station. James listed  his brother William Conrick, Porirua as his next of kin.

41747 Private James Albert Conrick, B Company, 24rd Reinforcements entered military training camp on 3rd January
1917 then he was transferred in February 1917 to B Company, 23rd Reinforcement leaving New Zealand on 14th March 1917 with B Company, 23rd Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Regiment.

On arrival in England on 21st May 1917 the 23rd Reinforcements the reinforcements were sent to the Sling Military
training camp for advanced training in the Wellington training battalion. The training was brief following the Battle of Messines there was a requirements for reinforcements to make up for the losses in the battle. On 21st June 1917
Private Conrick was sent to France and on the 14th July 1917 was attached to the 11th (Taranaki) Company, 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment.

Following the Battle of Messines there was a period of trench warfare ollowed by assaults on the village of La Basse Ville. The village changed hands a number of times and when the 1st Wellingtons’ were in support they were subject to a heavy barrages. These barrages on the original front line trenches and posts held by the 1st Battalion, Taranaki Company in the posts sustained several casualties[vi]. Private Conrick was one of these casualties suffering, on 31st July 1917,  a
severe wound to his left foot. Private Conrick was first evacuated to the 2nd Advanced Clearing Station then
by the 3rd NZ Field Ambulance to the 6th General Hospital, Rouean. Once stable Private Conrick was evacuated by
hospital ship to England. Private Conrick was admitted to the 1st NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst on 17th August 1917.

On 19th September 1917 Private Conrick was evaluated by a medical board and assessed as no longer fit for active service. When Private Conrick was fit enough he was sent to the Convalescent hospital at Torquay, on 19th November 1917,
to await shipment back to New Zealand.

Private Conrick finally left England on 16th January 1918 arriving back in New Zealand  7th March 1918. Private Conrick
was given medical treatment in New Zealand then on 17th May 1918 he was discharged ‘as no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received.’

James may have returned to live with his brother William , wife Nora and their eight children at Porirua and been in
New Zealand when his older brother William died of the Spanish Influenza in November 1918 but by 1920 was living in Geelong, Victoria, Australia where his is listed as a labourer.

James married in 1922 to Gladys Eileen Clark and the couple
had, a least one son, James Joseph Conrick born in 1924[vii].

Conrick's grave Geelong Eastern Cemetery 

James Albert Conrick died on 4th September 1973 and is
buried in the Geelong Eastern Cemetery, Victoria, Australia
with his wife.

Both his father Edmund and older brother William Patrick Conrick
also worked at the Porirua Mental Hospital.

Paperspast Online
The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 – 1919: NZETC

James Albert and Gladys Eileen Conrick: Billion graves
Advanced Clearing Station - Western Front: RSA collection - National Librabry

[i] Ancestry.co: myfamily (Conrick)
[ii] Wises Directory: Porirua
[iii] Archives New Zealand Military Files; 41747 Private James Albert Conrick
[iv] Parochial Porirua, 8th April 1916, NZ Truth
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: Private James Albert Conrick
[vi] La Basse Ville: The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 - 1919
[vii] Ancestry.com my family (Conrick)

Advanced Clearing Station - Western Front