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Picture of JR Alwill
John Roderick Alwill
Rifleman - Service Number 49683

John Alwill was born to Jarred and Florence Alwill of Hautapu, Cambridge on the 26th of September, 1890. He had two brothers, Stephen and Albert, and a sister Violet. The Alwills were a well known and enterprising family who were into many different ventures. Jared, his father was the first to import a threshing machine, reaper and binder into the Waikato. As well as the usual business with sheep, cattle, and crops, Jarred bred horses and pigs, and ran a smithy. He was one of the first to import pure thoroughbred and Clydesdale horses into the district. He also produced wine and had two big underground cellars sending wine to Auckland. Jarred was also a foundation shareholder of the Cambridge Co-operative Dairy Company at Hautapu. Before the war John worked in farming and on enlistment joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade as a rifleman. After training he joined the 27th Reinforcements for the Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company, and embarked in Wellington on the 12th of June 1917. He sailed on HMNZT 87, on the vessel Tahiti landing at Devonport, England on the 19th of October, 1917. In the battle of Bapaume, he was a corporal serving with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 2nd Battalion. The Battalions moved of to their start points on the night of the 25th/26th. They were suprised to find the Germans holding large parts of the Beugnatre Road. The attack was launched at 6.30am. The 2nd Rifles were in the middle of the attack but were held up by fire from the village. After a second attack later in the day they had advanced about 1000 yards on a front of 2,500 yards. The Beugnatre Rd was was well behind and Bapaume was directly menaced from the North. The Second Rifles had borne the brunt of the fighting and they had 6 officers and 40 men killed, one of whom was John. He is buried in Vaulx Hill Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France in grave C4 block I.