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Picture of William Rhys Perkins
William Rhys Perkins
Private - Service Number 12/3124

William, commonly known as Rhys, was the son of son of William and Margaret Perkins. He was educated first at Lemington School and was an active member of the YMCA and the Presbyterian church. After leaving school he farmed at Maungatautari. He enlisted on the 15th of June, 1915, in the 1st Battalion Auckland Regiment. He served on the Western Front and in February 1916 was recovering in hospital from a bout of the flu. He wrote a letter home to his sister which is a valuable and graphic account of life at the front for an ordinary soldier and details the effect of artillery. It is featured in "Cambridge World War One: Something to Remember" by Eris Parker. "I was buried once by a shell that burst in the parapet: four of us were caught, but no one was hurt. It was funny to see us crawling out shaking off the dirt and muck; it was down our necks, in our mouths and everywhere Not long before we came out (of the line) I was sitting in a little cave I had dug, trying to keep out of the rain when a shell burst in the corner of the entrance. My equipment and rifle were all blown to pieces, the oil sheet which was hanging in front of the doorway was ripped and torn down, my mess tin had two big holes in it (it was alongside me), and my greatcoat, Which I had on, had a cut about three inches long across the arm". The First Battalion was billeted in Armentiers in the basement of an old blind factory. Much of the town had been abandoned and was often shelled but the New Zealanders considered it a cheerful place. It was only some 20 minutes from the front line and the estaminets and chip shops and the famous Pont Nieppe baths made life bearable. Armentiers was only a trench spell but the Battalion lost 265 officers and men, 62 of whom were killed. William was one of these, killed in action on the 21st of June, 1916, aged 21 years 5 months. He is buried at the Cite Bon Jean Cemetery, Armentieres, France, Plot II Row B Grave 25.