Topic: William Leslie Charles Reeve (1896-1917)

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Tauranga farmer and 4th Waikato Territorial William Leslie Charles Reeve was killed in action in Belgium on 7 June 1917, the first day of the Battle of Messines. He is remembered on his brothers headstone in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery. Story by Debbie McCauley.

William Leslie Charles Reeve (aka William Charles Leslie Reeve) was born in Tauranga on 28 January 1896 (reg. 1896/1676). His parents were Edwin and Ellen Jane Reeve (nee Hyde) who married in Tauranga on 3 July 1895. The family lived in Edgecumbe Road and then Gate Pa, Tauranga.

William worked as a farmer at Tauranga and was a 4th Waikato Territorial.

He enlisted to serve during World War I on 1 May 1916. William saw action with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion (Service No. 31095). 

Rifleman William Leslie Charles Reeve was killed in action in Belgium, on 7 June 1917, at the age of 21. It was the first day of the Battle of Messines, which took place near the village of Messines in West Flanders, Belgium, from 7-14 June 1917. The Bay of Plenty Times reported:

REEVE Killed in action on June 7, 1917 Rifleman William Charles Leslie Reeve, the dearly beloved eldest son of Mr and Mrs E Reeve, of Gate Pa, Tauranga aged 21 years. 'He died doing his duty.' [Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XLV, Issue 688, 25 June 1917, Page 2]

In Memoriam - In loving memory of Rifleman W H C Reeve killed in action at Messines June 7th, 1917 - verse - inserted by his loving parents, brothers and sisters. [Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XVII, Issue 7174, 9 June 1919, Page 2] 

William was buried near where he fell, reportedly 'buried in an angle formed by meeting of Stinking Farm Road and crossroad running north into Messines past La Bassee Court Farm, about 150 yards south of Stinking Farm Road and 200 yards from Messines.'

William’s body was never recovered from his gravesite and so he is remembered on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial at Messines Ridge British Cemetery in Belgium.

William Charles Leslie Reeve (1896-1917)

William's older brother Frederick died in Tauranga Hospital on 10 May 1926. He is buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery, with details of both brothers appearing on the headstone.


Archives New Zealand: Military Personnel File.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).


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

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William Leslie Charles Reeve (1896-1917)

Note:Service Number: 21095
First Names:William Leslie Charles
Last Name:Reeve
Date of Birth:28 January 1896
Place of Birth:Tauranga
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:7 June 1917
Place of death:Messines, Belgium
Place of burial:Messines, Belgium
Fathers name:Edwin Reeve
Fathers date of birth:29 January 1873
Fathers place of birth:Tauranga, New Zealand
Fathers date of death:26 December 1921
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Ellen Jane Hyde
Mothers date of birth:c1872
Mothers date of death:2 April 1957
Mothers place of death:Auckland, New Zealand
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)