37137 Staff Sergeant Gosby Gilbert Solly - Army Pay Department

Gosby Gilbert Solly was born in Whitstable, Kent on 1st December 1887[i] the son of Henry Gosby & Alice (nee Gilbert) Solly.

Gosby and a close friend Douglas (Doug) Gann, whose family was also from Whitstable, emigrated from Kent to New Zealand in 1913.[ii] Both men settled in Johnsonville, Wellington and Gosby was employed as a bank clerk with the Bank of New Zealand.

On the 5th December 1916 Gosby Gilbert Solly enlisted in the 25th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary
Force (NZEF) and because of his employment with a bank entered camp as a Private in the Army Pay Department.

Private Solly’s military records note his mother as his next of kin and also Miss A M Wybourn (friend) of Railway Terrace, Johnsonville as his New Zealand contact.[iii] There was a military requirement that at least one New Zealand contact was note on a serviceman's file. 

Private Solly was quickly promote from Private to Pay Sergeant initially based at Trentham and then at the Featherston camp prior to his 26th April 1917 departure for overseas service.

On arrival in England Pay Sergeant reverted to Temporary Corporal and was attached to the NZ Army Pay Department in London. It was normal for Reinforcements to be reduced in rank when they joined the main body of the army. T/Corporal Solly was sent to France in September 1917 joining the Head Quarters staff where he became Temporary Sergeant Solly.

T/Sergeant Solly meet another soldier from the Johnsonville / Tawa Flat with 50095 Gunner James Wilfred (Wilf) Mexted writing home on the 18th October 1918 to his parents.[iv]

'Gosby Solly came to see me today, looking well and all smiles.
It was very good to see him . . . . .'

T/Sergeant remained in France until November 1918 when follow an
accident he was admitted to hospital and returned to England.

In February 1919 T/Sergeant Solly was promoted to Staff Sergeant
remaining with the NZ Army Pay Department in London until he was
repatriated to New Zealand, arriving in March 1919. Staff Sergeant Solly
was finally discharged ‘on termination of period of engagement’ on 17th
April 1919 but while he was still officially with the NZEF he married on
2nd April 1919 his ‘friend’ Annie May Wybourn.[v]

 37317 Staff Sergeant Gosby Gilbert Solly and Annie May Wybourn.

Gosby & Annie began married life in Johnsonville with Gosby rejoining the
Bank of New Zealand. In the early 1920’s Gosby and Doug Gann helped a
local Johnsonville builder, Norman Jepson, to build a four bedroom
weatherboard bach in Cluny Road, Karehana Bay. As recollected by
Annette Solly.[vi]

‘The section (48 Cluny Road) was very steep and covered in Manuaka scrub
and was on the south side of the valley towards the end of Cluny Road. At
the far end of Cluny Road there was a patch of native bush with a stream
running through draining into the valley floor which was swampy in places,
but with at least one paddock where a horse was kept (now Firth Road).  On the other side of the valley some way up the hill there was a road, then called Pukerua Road, leading to Pukerua Bay.
About half way up the Solly-Gann section a level area was excavat4ed and a pulley erected to haul up the building
material up for the bach. Above the pulley was a flat area which eventually became a lawn, with an Ngaio tree, and a clothes line. The Bach consisted of four rooms with a small veranda, a main living room, a kitchen and a bedroom off each of these. A fire place was on the south side of the living room and there was a picture window from which on a clear day could be seen the snow covered peaks of the Kaikoura Range in the north of the South Island.
In the living room there was a table and four chairs, a sofa and a rocking chair, and in the bedrooms four bunks so that at least four people could be accommodated, or more if canvas stretches were included. In the kitchen there was a kerosene stove and a primus, a sink and a bench, and cupboards. There was no bathroom but there was a china wall basin in the kitchen with a drain outside. There was only tank water. Later the bank was excavated further and another room built on. All furniture had to be carried up the steep path.
The tank and tank stand was on a raised area on the south side of the house and there was no sewerage, so there was a separate outhouse further up the hill on the north side with a toilet, which consisted of a bucket which was emptied by
the Night Man and carried down to path to the Night Cart. In retrospect one can only feel sorry for that poor man!
Eventually, my father cleared part of the next section (presumably not sold) and made a garden where he grew tomatoes and runner beans.
Until the road bridge was built across the Porirua Harbour at Paremata in the 1930’s the only access to Plimmerton was along the south side of Porirua Harbour via Pauatahanui and then along the north side of the harbour to Plimmerton. I presume that all the building materials for our bach would have come by rail to Plimmerton and then by truck to Karehana Bay.
I was born in 1925 and my sister Marion, in 1930 and we have
wonderful memories of staying at our bach in Karehana Bay. In those
days there was a boat club and buildings on the northern end of
Karehana Bay where dances were held on Saturday nights. As a
teenager how I longed to be able to attend those dances. During the
war when petrol was rationed we could not travel far so our holidays
were spent at Karehana Bay.'

The ‘Weekenders’ was a name given to those families who did not live
permanently in Plimmerton but came out at the weekends and holidays
to spend ‘days at the bay’ at their baches in Plimmerton and Karehana
Bay. Thanks to Solly family members who provided the information on
their bach in Cluny Road.

The Solly family sold 48 Cluny Road in 1944 when they moved to Auckland but even after seventy years the bach still brings back lovely memories to both Annette and Marion.

Gosby Gilbert Solly died in 1976, Annie May Solly in 1987.
Annette Solly died in 2015.

Paperspast Online 
Personal Recollections: Annette Solly (Daughter) 1925 - 2015
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 37137 Staff Sergeant Gosby Gilbert Solly
50095 Gunner Wilf Mexted - letter home: Unpublished Mexted family

Solly – Wybourne Wedding: Solly family collection
48 Cluny Road – 2014: Clark & Co

[i]    Freebdm.org.uk – births March 1888: 2a 868 Solly Gosby Gilbert
[ii]   Personal Recollections: Annette Solly - 2014
[iii]  Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 37137 Staff Sergeant Gosby Gilbert Solly
[iv]  Letters Home; unpublished letters from 50095 Gunner James Wilfred (Wilf) Mexted
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Records: 37137 Staff Sergeant Gosby Gilbert Solly
[vi] Personal Recollections: Annette Solly – 2014

48 Cluny Road, Karehana Bay, Plimmerton - 2014