Topic: Samuel Pemberton (1893-1916)

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After recovering from a gunshot wound sustained whilst fighting at Gallipoli, Tauranga carpenter Samuel Pemberton was killed in action at the Somme in Northern France on 17 September 1916. Story by Debbie McCauley

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Samuel Pemberton was born at Shepparton in Victoria, Australia on 8 May 1893. His parents were Charles Jevons and Mary Jane Pemberton (nee Rhodes) who married in Waikouaiti on 25 August 1882.

In 1895 Charles was before the courts for theft. Family stories say that Mary left Charles for his younger brother Samuel Pemberton (c1863-1944) who raised Charles and Mary's sons as his own. This is likely why the war records of brothers Ernest Herbert and Samuel Pemberton name their father as 'Samuel'.

Samuel attended Pongakawa School until the family moved to Tauranga in c1911. In 1913 Samuel, along with brothers Jack and Ernest worked on the building of Tauranga's first hospital. His occupation was noted as 'carpenter'.

He was a member of the Te Puke Mounted Rifles then later the Tauranga Rifle Club and a Hauraki Regiment Volunteer. 

Samuel was engaged to be married to Dolly [Dorothy Gwendoline Ridley', sister of Adeline (who married Ernest Hammond) and Alice. 

When war broke out in 1914, Samuel was one of the first to enlist and on 14 August 1914 left Tauranga to join the Main Body. He served in the Auckland Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion (Service No. 12/439).

On 8 May 1915 Samuel was wounded in action at Gallipoli, receiving a gunshot wound to his left knee and recovering in Malta. He was able to rejoin his unit on 15 September 1915.

Sergeant Samuel Pemberton was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme in Northern France on 17 September 1916, aged 23. He is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery at Longueval, Somme, France.

His medals were sent to his mother, Mary, who was living in Devonport Road, Tauranga, at the time.

Samuel Pemberton (1893-1916)

On 9 October 1916, fellow Tauranga solider Samuel James Keam wrote in a letter to his sisters and brothers: 

The parting is all the harder now because I got a telegram from Alice on Fri. saying that Sam Pemberton was killed in action. He was engaged to Dolly Ridley. Before he went their house was ready and there has been a good deal of furniture prepared as well. And now it is all crushed (letter courtesy of the private collection of R&M Keam).

On 11 October 1916 the Bay of Plenty Times reported:

Cr Brown moved - That a letter of sympathy be forwarded to Cr Pemberton, expressing the Council's condolence with him in the loss he has sustained by the death of his son, Sergeant Samuel Pemberton, at the front. Cr Brown said Sergeant Pemberton's death was a very sad loss, not only to his parents and family, but to the country. He had known him for years and did not know of a finer type of young man. - The motion was seconded by Cr Castaing and passed in silence, all councillors standing. - The late sergeant S Pemberton, who was 23 years of age, was the youngest son of Mr S Pemberton. Prior to enlisting he was employed by his father. He was amongst the first to respond to the Empire's call and left Tauranga on August 13, 1914, joining the main body of the Expeditionary Force. He proceeded to Gallipoli. where he was wounded on May 1. He remained with his unit and was again wounded on May 8. He spent five months in hospital in Malta and again rejoined his unit before it proceeded to France. Apparently he escaped further injury until he was mortally wounded on September 17. The late Sergeant Pemberton was a keen athlete, and was well known as a wrestler, having taken first prize (gold medal) as champion middle weight wrestler, at Rotorua, when he was only 18 years of age. He spent two years in the Te Puke Mounted Rifles, and later was a member of the Te Puke Rifle Club. He joined the Territorials upon their establishment. He left New Zealand as a private, and after leaving Gallipoli was made Corporal. Soon after landing in France he was raised to the rank of sergeant. In giving his life for King, country, and freedom he has made the supreme sacrifice.



Archives New Zealand: Military Personnel File.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record.

Bay of Plenty Times (11 October 1916, p. 2).

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Clement, Christine (2011). The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Te Puke and District (pp. 262-263).

Kean, Fiona (2014). From Tauranga to the Trenches (pp. 50-51).


This article was archived in August at Perma CC (

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Samuel Pemberton (1893-1916)

Note:Service Number: 12/439
First Names:Samuel
Last Name:Pemberton
Date of Birth:8 May 1893
Place of Birth:Shepparton, Victoria
Country of birth:Australia
Date of death:17 September 1916
Place of death:Somme, Northern France, France
Place of burial:Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France
Spouses name:Dorothy Gwendoline Ridley (fiancé)
Spouses date of birth:1890
Spouses place of birth:Dunedin, New Zealand
Spouses date of death:1957
Spouses place of death:Dunedin, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Southern Cemetery, Dunedin, New Zealand
Fathers name:Charles Jevons Pemberton
Fathers date of birth:c1856
Fathers place of birth:Taradale, Victoria, Australia
Fathers date of death:1945
Fathers place of death:Riverton, New Zealand
Mothers name:Mary Jane Rhodes
Mothers date of birth:1863
Mothers place of birth:Great Horwood, Buckinghamshire, England
Mothers date of death:8 July 1943
Mothers place of death:Gate Pa, Tauranga, New Zealand
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)

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