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13739 Rifleman Roy Lane Cunliffe
D Company 1st Battalion
3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade
4th December 1917

pw61Rifleman Roy Lane Cunliffe2_edited.jpg

Born on 19/04/1892 in Johnsonville, Wellington, New Zealand.

His parents were James Erasmus Cunliffe(13/02/1850-22/03/1930) and Ada Mahala Jenner(1855-1916).

They were married on 26/10/1879.

Roy had 3 brothers, Arthur Erasmus Jenner(born in 1881), William James(15/12/1883-26/08/1939)

and Francis Llewellyn(29/09/1896-04/03/1975).

He also had 5 sisters, Laura Louise(28/05/1882-1977), Frances(1885-06/07/1982), Eva Florence(1886-10/05/1982), Jean(born in 1887) and Ada Mahala(1888-1968).  The family lived at 166 Vivian Street, Wellington. 

At the outbreak of war, Roy enlisted in Wellington on 08/08/1914 as a Gunner(2/30) in D Battery NZ Field Artillery. 

Details of his medical from that day are as follows;

Apparent Age - 22 years

Height - 5ft 8 inches, Weight - 149lbs

Chest Measurement - Minimum - 34 inches, Maximum - 37 inches

Complexion - Dark, Colour of Eyes - Grey, Colour of Hair - Brown

Religious Profession - Methodist  

At this time Britain had asked New Zealand to capture the island of Samoa, that was under German rule and destroy a wireless station on the island that was being used by the German navy and it was a threat to merchant shipping in the area.

Roy was one of the 1400 strong force that New Zealand sent to Samoa, with him boarding the troopship Monowai on 11/08/1914 and disembarking in Samoa on 29/08/1914. The New Zealand force did not encounter  any resistance and so were successfully able to occupy the island.

Roy stayed in Samoa until 10/02/1915,before returning to New Zealand, arriving back in Wellington on 22/03/1915.

This was the same day that Roy was discharged from the army at his own request.

Just under a year later, Roy re-enlisted at Trentham Camp on 07/03/1916. He had already had a medical in Wellington on 31/01/1916, details as follows;

Declared Age - 23 

Trade or Occupation - Painter ( last employer was C.W. Barker, 94 Willis Street , Wellington)

Height - 5ft 9 inches, Weight - 165lbs

Chest Measurement - Minimum - 35 inches , Maximum - 39 inches

Complexion - Medium, Colour of Eyes - Grey, Colour of Hair - Brown

Religious Profession - Wesleyan

Roy was posted to F Company 14th Reinforcements.

Whilst at Featherstone Camp for training, He was found guilty of overstaying his leave on 29/05/1916 and awarded 1 days loss of pay.

He began his journey to England from Wellington, embarking on the Troopship Maungaui on 26/06/1916 and it wasn't until 23/08/1916 that he disembarked from it in Devonport, England.

That same day Roy was marched into Sling Camp on Salisbury Plain and posted to A Company 5th Reserve Battalion

New Zealand Rifle Brigade(NZRB).

He stayed at Sling training until 14/09/1916 when he was sent to France, marching into Etaples Camp 3 days later. He was here for just over 2 weeks before he joined 1st Battalion 3rd NZRB in the field and was posted to D Company on 01/10/1916.

 On 13/03/1917, Roy was wounded in action, receiving a slight gunshot wound to the face, when the battalion was in the Ploegsteert Sector and he could well have been one of the working battalion that was formed from the 3 Brigades of the Division. Its purpose was "for laying cable for a forward telephone system on an extensive scale" * .

*The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, page 180. 

Roy was admitted to No.3 NZ Field Ambulance the same day, before being moved to No.2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, before being transferred to No.13 Stationary Hospital on 21/03/1917.

After a couple of weeks recovering in hospital, Roy was discharged and marched into Etaples Camp on 07/04/1917.

Whilst at the Camp, Roy was deprived of 7 days pay for falling out of a march on 06/05/1917.

He re-joined his battalion on 25/05/1917 until 19/08/1917 when he was given leave in the UK, before re-joining his unit on 06/09/1917.

Roy was killed in action on 04/12/1917, but it was not until 10/07/1919 that Roy was reburied in Polygon Wood Cemetery.

He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the 1914-1918 British War and Allied Victory medals.

New Zealand Times – 21 December 1917

Cunliffe- Killed in action in France, December 4th, Roy Lane, dearly loved third son of J.E. Cunliffe, 166 Vivian Street, Wellington. In his 25th year. 

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