3/722 Private William Skinner - New Zealand Medical Corps
William Skinner was born on 3rd April 1888 in Somerset, England and as a young man immigrated to New Zealand.
He was employed as a boot maker at Porirua Hospital where he also played in the Hospital Soccer team (Association Football) and represented Wellington in this sport in 1913 – 1914. William was a skilled sportsman playing as a forward
and in a report on the Charity Shield match in the Evening Post on 8 September 1913[i]
‘Sharp Shooting by Hospital Forwards – The Charity Cup match at Porirua between Hospital and Brooklyn was
played in pouring rain. Brooklyn United fielded only ten men. Play was too one-sided to call for much comment, Hospital having their own way from start to finish. It was one long bombardment of Belhamie, Brooklyn’s goal
keeper and only his excellent work in that position kept the score within reasonable dimensions. Hospital placed
goals in the opening half, the scorers being Skinner (2), Hughes (1) and Heath (1). In the second half six more
goals were rattled on, Skinner getting two, Hughes two and Heath and Roots one each, bringing the total up to 10. Under the circumstances individual comment is inadvisable with the exception of reference to the splendid performance of Belhamie under the bar.’
Hospital went on to win the 1913 Charity Shield; the photo shows the winning team with W Skinner seated 1st right, G Hughes 2nd right, P S Roots (captain) 3rd right & H Heath 4th right.
On the outbreak of war the four men plus another five from the Porirua Hospital enlisted[ii] together in the New Zealand Medical Corp on the 14th September 1914. However William Skinner was not selected possibly because of his teeth. In the first nine months of the war, up to a third of otherwise fit men were not selected because of their teeth.
William returned to work at Porirua Hospital and as member of the soccer club, Porirua Mental Hospital Club (Association) was elected to the club’s management committee at the annual general meeting held in May 1915. The meeting noted that the club had won the Charity Shield again in 1914 and that[iii]
‘. . . special mention was made to the large number of members who have responded to their country’s call
and “who are now playing the game in the most serious match in the world’s history’ . . .’
William did enlist again in May 1915, possibly after remedial dentistry; his medical reports state that his teeth were ‘sufficient’[iv] and he went into training with the New Zealand Medical Corp. Private 3/722 Private William Skinner sailed
for Egypt on 15th June 1915 with Number 2 Stationary Hospital. The No 2 Stationary Hospital provided support for the casualties from the Gallipoli and Palestine Campaigns and Private Skinner remained in Egypt until his unit was shipped to England in May 1916.
The renamed No 2 NZ General Hospital was set up in Walton on Thames where Private Skinner served until August 1916
when he was shipped to France and was attached to the No 3 Field Ambulance. The New Zealand Division was committed to the Battle of the Somme in September 1916 with the 2nd Brigade launching a dawn attack on the 15th of September when the village of Flers was captured. On the night of the 20th the 2nd Canterbury launched a night assault with bombs and bayonets. It is possible that Private Skinner was supporting the wounded from this action when he suffered a gunshot wound to his left hip on 21 September 1916.
This was a serious wound and he was immediately evacuated via the Field Ambulance to a Casualty Clearing Station
behind the front lines then via the St John’s Ambulance and hospital ship to the King George Hospital in London for treatment. Private Skinner remained in the King George Hospital for seven month finally being sent to the No 2 NZ
General Hospital at Walton on Thames on 23rd May 1917. In July 1917 Private Skinner was classified as no longer fit for active service with the Medical Board noting the destruction of the head of the femur and part of the left hip. Private William was returned to New Zealand and on 14th December 1917 was discharged as ‘no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received.’[v]
William Skinner spent time in hospital in Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington Hospitals but he retained his love for soccer
and was elected as a vice-president of the Wellington Football Association (WFA). The Evening Post reported in June
1920  [vi]
‘W Skinner now a vice-president of the WFA was recently in town on a trip from Rotorua Hospital.
He has much improved in health and expects to start again shortly on the staff of the Porirua Mental
then in July 1920[vii]
‘It will be pleasing to the many friends of Mr W Skinner to hear that he has resumed duty once more at
Porirua Mental Hospital. He still takes a very keen interest in the game, and his advice should be of great
assistance to the local club.’
Hospital 1921 Wellington First Division winners, William Skinner as part of the Management team standing first row 1st right.
William continued to work at Porirua Hospital and through the 1930’s was very active in the management of the Hospital Cricket teams and the Hospital Football teams where he was made a life member. William also was active in the Returned Soldiers Association.
William Skinner died in Wellington on 1st May 1973, aged 85.
Archway Archives New Zealand: 3/722 Private William Skinner
Lucas & Moran (2007): Mental about Wests – Porirua Press
Papers Past Online
1913 Porirua Mental Hospital winners Charity Shield: Pataka Museum
1913 Porirua Menatl Hospital (cropped) W Skinner: Patala Museum
1921 Hospital winners Wellington First Division: Pataka Museum
[i] Evening Post - 08 September 1913: A Runaway Match – Sharp Shooting by Hospital Forwards.
[ii] Evening Post – 17 October 1914: Men Selected Ambulance; J H Alexander, A Foley, H Foster, H Heath, K    Munron, PS Roots, W Skinner, A Topham, F Walsh
[iii] Evening Post – 30 March 1915: AGM Porirua Mental Hospital Club (Association)
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records 3/722 Private William Walsh
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records 3/722 Private William Walsh
[vi] Evening Post – 30 June 1920: Association
[vii] Evening Post – 10 July 1920: Association
New Zealand No 1 Hospital