Topic: Frederick Hill Ralph (1878-1917)

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On 27 October 1916 Boer War veteran and Tauranga farmhand Frederick Hill Ralph whilst serving in France during World War I when he sustained a gunshot wound to the head causing a skull fracture and subdural hematoma. He was evacuated to London, England, but died of his wounds on 19 January 1917 at the 2nd London General Hospital in Chelsea. Story by Debbie McCauley.

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Frederick Hill Ralph was born in Dublin, Ireland on 6 January 1878, and baptised at the Rotunda Chapel in Dublin on 24 March 1878. His parents were Charles Frederick and Frederica Julia Ralph (nee Danson) who married in South Stoneham, Hampshire, England, in July 1863.

Frederick served during the South African conflict (Boer War 1899-1902) with the No. 24 Company (Canterbury Section), 7th Contingent (Service No. 4434).

On 12 April 1901 Frederick's father, Colonel Charles Frederick Ralph, died at 'St Hilaire', Canford Cliffs in Parkstone, Dorset, England.

It is not yet known exactly when Frederick arrived in New Zealand, but he was a member of the Legion of Frontiersman in Auckland.

On 20 July 1909 Frederick married Nine Eveline Anderson in Auckland  (reg. 1909/2617). They moved to Gisborne, where both of their children were born.

The children of Frederick and Eveline:

  1. Nethersole Sebastian Danson Ralph (1910-1983). Born in Gisborne on 5 June 1910 (reg. 1910/19234). He died in Westminster, London, England, on 25 May 1983.
  2. Irene Rubina Dundas Ralph (1912-2008). Born in Gisborne on 13 October 1912 (reg. 1912/17022). Irene died in New Zealand on 10 August 2008.

By 1914 the family were living in Tauranga where Frederick worked as a farmhand in Edgecumbe Road. Frederick was also a member of the Tauranga Mounted Rifles.

On 6 July 1915 Frederick enlisted to serve during World War I. From Trentham he was transferred to Camp Police at Rangiotu, before being shipped overseas with the Otago Mounted Rifles (Service No. 9/1634). On 12 March 1916 he transferred to the New Zealand Engineers No. 3 Field Company.

Serving in France on 27 October 1916, Frederick sustained a gunshot wound to the head causing a skull fracture and subdural hematoma. He was treated at the Australian Clearing Station then sent to the General Hospital at Boulogne. He was evacuated to England, his war record stating that he was 'dangerously ill'.

Sapper Frederick Hill Ralph died of his wounds at the 2nd London General Hospital in Chelsea on 19 January 1917, aged 36. On 23 January 1917 he was buried in the Brookwood Military Cemetery, at Woking in Surrey, England (Grave Ref: VIII. E. 8.).

Frederick Hill Ralph (1881-1917)

On 16 February 1917 the Bay of Plenty Times reported:

Saper Frederick Hill Ralph, of Windmill Road, Auckland, who has died of wounds, was well known in Tauranga. He left New Zealand with the rank of sergeant in the engineers, but gave .up his stripes in order to get to the front quickly. He was the seventh son of the late Colonel Ralph and was born in Dublin, He served with the Seventh New Zealand Contingent in the Boer war, and belonged to the Auckland division of the Legion of Frontiersmen. Five months ago he was in hospital suffering from the effects of gas but he recovered quickly. The late Sapper Ralph had several heroic deeds to his credit and had repeatedly rescued wounded comrades under fire. He sustained the wounds from which he died at .Armentieres three months ago, A widow and two little children survive him.

Nina may have gone to visit relatives in England, also visiting the USA in 1930.

On 26 December 1946, at age 67, Nina departed London for New York, arriving on 28 December 1946, and recorded as being in transit to Canada.

The 1949 New Zealand Electoral Roll shows Nina living with her daughter Irene in Grace Avenue at Mount Mauganui.

References: 1881 England Census. 1891 England Census. Ireland, Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 for Nina Eveline Ralph.

Archives New Zealand: Military Personnel File.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, February 16, p. 2): Local and General.

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Ministry for Culture and Heritage: NZ History.

New Zealand Electoral Roll: 1911.

New Zealand Electoral Roll: 1914.

New Zealand Electoral Roll: 1949.


A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC

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Frederick Hill Ralph (1878-1917)

Note:Service Number: 9/1634
First Names:Frederick Hill
Last Name:Ralph
Date of Birth:6 January 1878
Place of Birth:Dublin
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:19 January 1917
Place of death:2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea, England
Place of burial:Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England
Occupation:drover, farmhand
Spouses name:Nina Eveline Anderson
Spouses date of birth:1878
Spouses place of birth:Croydon, England
Date of marriage:20 July 1909
Place of marriage:Auckland, New Zealand
Fathers name:Charles Frederick Ralph
Fathers date of birth:5 July 1833
Fathers place of birth:Deal, Kent, England
Fathers date of death:12 April 1901
Fathers place of death:'St Hilaire', Canford Cliffs, Parkstone, Dorset, England
Mothers name:Frederica Julia Danson
Mothers date of birth:4 February 1840
Mothers place of birth:Kensington, London, England
Mothers date of death:2 February 1927
Mothers place of death:9a Lissenden Gardens, Highgate Road, Pancras, London, England
Name of the children:Nethersole Sebastian Danson Ralph and Irene Rubina Dundas Ralph
Military Service:South African conflict (Boer War 1899-1902) and World War I (1914-1918)