Edward George Cresswell

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Kaituna, Marlborough, New Zealand

General information


Army information

New Zealand
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Pahiatua, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
 —  Wellington Regiment, 1st Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Plot: XVII
Row: B
Grave: 20

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Edward Cresswell was born on 20 May 1894 in the small settlement of Kaituna, near Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand. His parents were Frank and Maria Cresswell, who had eight other children. The family moved frequently but by 1911, the Cresswells were living at Ballance, a farming area near Pahiatua in the north Wairarapa. When Edward enlisted at Pahiatua on 3 January 1917, he was working as a farmer for his father.

Edward joined the 25th Reinforcement, service number 45829 and entered camp on 5 February 1917. He increased his real age by one year on his attestation form. He trained at Trentham and Featherston camps before embarking from Wellington on 26 April 1917 on the troop ship Turakina. He arrived at Plymouth on 20 July 1917, going to Sling Camp immediately for further training. He was posted to 4th Reserve Wellington Battalion during training until going overseas to France on 5 September 1917 where he joined the 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment ‘in the field’. He was in the 17th (Ruahine) Company, mainly men from the Wairarapa-Hawke’s Bay area of the North Island. The battalion was stationed at Selles, France when he joined. In late September the battalion marched to Watou, Belgium, on the approach to the New Zealand Division fighting at the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October) and First Passchendaele (12 October). The 1st Wellington (part of 1st Brigade° took part in the fighting on 4th October.

The casualty sheet is missing from Edward’s service record so some details of his military life are unknown.

The New Zealand Division was in the Polygon Wood area after the end of the Third Battle of Ypres. Much of the time was spent in wiring, repairing crumbling trenches and improving defences. The landscape was covered with waterlogged shellholes. The right of the New Zealand position was enfiladed from Polderhoek and a decision was made to capture the spur on which the ruins of Polderhoek Chateau and German pillboxes sat.

The battalion was in the line at Polygon Wood from 27-30 November 1917. British artillery was firing at the Polderhoek area in preparation for the New Zealand attack on 3 December, and there was much German artillery retaliation. During this period 1st Wellington Battalion suffered 10 dead, one missing and 35 wounded. Edward Cresswell was among the dead. According to the burial return sheet, he was identified by his wristwatch, suggesting his body was badly hit.

He is now buried nearby at Buttes New British Cemetery at Polygon Wood, Plot XVII, Row B, Grave 20.

Sources 7

"The Wellington Regiment NZEF 1914-1919", Cunningham WH, Treadwell CAL, Hanna JS., Wellington, Ferguson & Osborn Ltd, 1928, pg. 232-233.
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Archives New Zealand
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Auckland Cenotaph
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Auckland Weekly News
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Births deaths marriages New Zealand
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NZEF Project
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