Rank, service number and regiment
Private 23/2185 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
Enlisted in New Zealand on 14 December 1915.
Embarked to France via Suez, Egypt on 1 April 1916.
Lower Burrow, K.E. This was probably the house opposite Palmer’s End Drove, plot 474 on the Tithe Map. It was then two cottages, occupied by Henry French and family and William Elliott and family.
Date of death
1 October 1916
Age of death
Circumstances of death
The Otago Regiment was engaged in the Battle of Transloy, within the overall context of the Battle of the Somme which ran from 1 July 1916 to 18 November 1916. There were many casualties in the Otago Regiment mainly through intense German machine-gun fire. The bodies of many of those lost were never recovered due to the ferocity of the fighting.
John’s body was not found in the intense fighting on the battlefield. He is commemorated on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing on the Somme, France.
Date of birth & full name
22 March 1891. JOHN FRENCH was known as JACK in the parish.
Farm labourer on 1911 census; and labourer on his NZ attestation form.
Henry French, general labourer born 1869 and Rhoda French (nee Elliott) born 1858, kid glove maker. They married 20 July 1882. They had four children: Bessie, William, George and John.
Spouse & children
John was unmarried
War Medal and Victory Medal.
John went to the USA in March 1910 and worked for some months in an electrical factory in Schenectady, New York State. By April 2nd 1911 he is back home in KE as a farm labourer, living with his parents. Then in July 1912 he again leaves home, emigrating to NZ on the SS Athenic with his brother George and wife Alice (nee Male). George is listed as his next of kin when John signs up in 1915 to join the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
According to his NZ attestation record he was 5’ 10” tall, dark complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. His chest measurement was 37” with an expansion to 41”. He weighed 11 st 7 lbs.
The photo below shows:
Henry French (L), Charlotte Elliott and Rhoda French (R) – John’s parents and his grandmother in the middle (Rhoda’s mother). They were all living in the house opposite Palmer’s End Drove. Photo from the archive of Jane Elliman, a descendant of this family.