Private WILLIAM BANWELL 8/2530 1st Bn., Otago Regiment, N.Z.E.F. who died on Thursday 14 June 1917. Age 35.
Son of Charles and Mary Banwell, of Richardson St., Dunedin; husband of Frances Mary Banwell, of 28, Helena St., South Dunedin.
MESSINES RIDGE (N.Z.) MEMORIAL
William or 'Bill' Banwell is born in Dunedin in Otago in New Zealand on 4 October 1882. His father had shortly before come from England, his mother from Ireland. Bill is the youngest of nine children. He attends the Union Street School and then works as a labourer for the coal dealers J. MacFie and Co. in Dunedin. In 1906, he marries Frances Mary Payne. The couple have four children. Bill is a corporal in the Dunedin City Guards, a local army unit, and plays rugby. After military training Bill Banwell leaves New Zealand and goes to the Front on 14 August 1915._
Bill Banwell belongs to the 1st Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, of the New Zealand Division. His unit fights first in Egypt and then at Gallipoli (1915). On the western front, he takes part in the Battle of the Somme. On 27 September 1916 he is wounded there. One week later, he can leave the hospital in Rouen and again join his unit. In June 1917, he is assigned in the mine battle at Mesen. On 14 June, a week after the beginning of the battle, he is shot down as a German observation post near Sunken Farm (Warneton) is taken at night._
Bill Banwell died near Sunken Farm (Warneton), but his body was never found. His name is on the New Zealand monument for the missing in Mesen. Only a few days before his death, he sent a poem to his wife at home with the title 'A Soldier's Dream'. It ends with the following verses:
"There was just another vision. Dear wife, if I should die,
Remember that I loved you; don't grieve, sweetheart or cry,
For when our lads are grown, dear, your voice will thrill with pride
When telling them how your father for his country gladly died."
(Source: Characters from the Great War on http://www.inflandersfields.be)