Topic: Richard Wearne Sharplin (1894-1916)

Topic type:

Whakamarama bushman Richard Wearne Sharplin was a Tauranga Rugby representative and part of the Whakamaramara fifteen. After signing up to fight during World War I, he died of pneumonia following measles at Featherston Military Training Camp on 25 October 1916. Two of his brothers saw action during World War I. Story by Debbie McCauley.

Does this article look wrong? Click here for an archived version.

Richard Wearne Sharplin was born at Springburn in Canterbury on 3 February 1894 (reg. 1894/10826). His parents were Henry Havelock and Elizabeth Jane Sharplin (nee Gundry) who married at Oxford in Canterbury on 6 November 1880.

The family moved to Whakamaramara near Tauranga in around 1912 where Richard and several of his brothers worked for the Whakamaramara Land and Timber Company. As well as working as a bushman, Richard was also a boxer, Hauraki Regiment Volunteer and played football. He was a Tauranga Rugby representative and part of the Whakamaramara fifteen.

Richard enlisted to fight during World War I on 23 August 1916. He was at the New Zealand Training Unit (Service No. 34441), his last rank recorded as Private. 

It was whilst he was at Featherston Military Training Camp that Richard became ill. He suffered from measles which was followed by pneumonia and pleurisy. Richard died on 25 October 1916, aged 22 (reg. 1916/10608). His death was reported in the Bay of Plenty Times:

We regret to record the death of Mr Richard Sharplin, eighth son of Mr H H Sharplin of Whakamarama, which occurred at the Featherston military hospital last night. Deceased responded to the Empire's call some six weeks ago and while in camp was attacked with measles, followed by pneumonia and pleurisy. On account of their son's serious condition Mr and Mrs H H Sharplin proceeded to Featherston last week. Deceased was a keen footballer and well-known boxer and was a most estimable young man. The interment will take place at Tauranga. The sympathy of the community will be extended to Mr and Mrs Sharplin and family in their great bereavement (Bay of Plenty Times, 25 October 1916, p. 2).

Richard's body was returned to Tauranga. His funeral notice reads:

The friends of the late Private R. W. Sharplin are invited to attend his funeral (military) which will leave the Presbyterian Church tomorrow, Saturday, October 28th, at 2pm for the New Cemetery (Bay of Plenty Times, 27 October 1916, p. 2).

The funeral service was held at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church on Saturday 28 October 1916. Richard was buried in Tauranga Presbyterian Cemetery.

His obituary appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 30 October 1916 and described him as, 'a big strong healthy fellow of exemplary character, beloved in his own home and popular among his comrades, and would have given a good account of himself in the lists he was so eager to enter' (p. 3).

Richard Wearne Sharplin (1894-1916)

Two brothers of Richard, Hayward Onslow Sharplin (1892-1971), and Alfred Langdown Sharplin (1897-1977), saw action during World War I.


Archives New Zealand: Military Personnel File.

Auckland War Memorial Museum: Cenotaph Record.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, October 25, p. 2). Local and General.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, October 27, p. 2): Funeral Notice.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, October 30, p. 3). Late Private R. W. Sharplin: Last Tributes.

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).


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

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Richard Wearne Sharplin (1894-1916)

Note:Service Number: 34441
First Names:Richard Wearne
Last Name:Sharplin
Date of Birth:3 February 1894
Place of Birth:Springburn, Canterbury
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:25 October 1916
Place of death:Featherston, New Zealand
Place of burial:Tauranga Presbyterian Cemetery
Fathers name:Henry Havelock Sharplin
Fathers date of birth:1 April 1858
Fathers place of birth:Sunderland, Durham, England
Fathers date of death:15 February 1931
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Elizabeth Jane Gundry
Mothers date of birth:7 January 1860
Mothers place of birth:Sithney, Cornwall, England
Mothers date of death:9 August 1941
Mothers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)