• Date of birth: 03/08/1882
  • Place of birth: Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
  • Date of death: 12/10/1917
  • Place of death: Bellevue, Belgium
  • Cause of death: Killed in action (K.I.A.)
  • Age: 35
  • Profession: Fireman
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Rank: Lance Corporal
  • Service number: 15229
  • Enlistment date: 07/04/1916
  • Enlistment place: Trentham, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Last known unit: Otago Regiment, 2nd Bn.
  • Force: New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Cemetery

Additional information

Lance Corporal John Neill was part of the D company, 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment NZEF (2nd NZEF Brigade). He enlisted in April 1916. In November 1916 he joined his unit at the front lines. In February he was appointed Lance Corporal.
On the 11th of October, the 2nd New Zealand Brigade relieved the 148th Brigade ( 49th Division ) at 2 a.m.. The New-Zealanders were to attack on the following day. There were three objectives : the first being the Red Line ( approx. Friesland Farm – Source Wood ), the second being the Blue Line ( approx. Graf Farm – Goudberg Copse ) and the final being the Green Line ( approx. Exert Copse - Vocation Farm ). The main goal was to reach to northern outskirts of the Passchendaele village.
The 2nd N.Z. Brigade was to attack with the 2nd Bn. Otago Regiment, the 1st Bn. Otago Regiment and the 1st Bn. Canterbury Regiment. The 2nd Bn. Canterbury Regiment was in reserve. The three objectives were allotted in this order.
The attack began at 5.25 a.m. with the 2nd Otago’s positioned at the front and thus leading the assault. On their right was the Ravebeek, which could be used as a guideline to reach Passchendaele. Shortly after the men advanced through Marsh Bottom towards Bellevue, they found themselves having difficulties. Uncut wire entanglements were laying everywhere in front of the jumping off line, as the opening barrage had failed to destroy them. The only gap in the wire was at a single point on the sunken Gravenstafel Road. While some soldiers tried to cut some paths through the wires, many others used the single open space, which was turned out to be a death trap. The area of the Bellevue Spur was overloaded with German defences and pillboxes. And the German machine-guns mowed the massing New Zealanders down.
At 3:30 p.m. orders were received that the 2nd Brigade was to consolidate their current positions (southwest of Laamkreek) and had to organize a defensive position in depth. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Otago Regiment held the front line. The 12th October 1917 was one of the most tragic battles in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and would later be known as the Tragedy of the Bellevue Spur.
Lance Corporal Neill was reported wounded after this action. As no further information came along, he was reported wounded and missing. A Court of Inquiry held in 1918 concluded that he died on the battlefield on the 12th October Battle of Passchendaele. His body was eventually found North West of Bellevue.