• 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, a fireman from Mornington, Dunedin, served in “D” company, 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment, part of the 2nd New Zealand Brigade. John originated from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was married to Jeanne Anderson and had a son, John Richard. He enlisted in April 1916. In November 1916 he joined his unit at the front lines. In February he was appointed Lance Corporal.

On 12 October 1917, the New Zealanders were to attack. The main goal was to reach to northern outskirts of the Passchendaele village. The 2nd New Zealand Brigade was to attack with the 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment, the 1st Battalion Otago Regiment and the 1st Battalion 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. The first objective was a line running from Friesland Farm to Source Wood. On their right was the Ravebeek stream, that could be used as a guideline to reach Passchendaele.

Shortly after the men advanced through Marsh Bottom towards Bellevue, they got into difficulties because of uncut wire entanglements that lay in front of the jumping off line. The opening barrage had failed to destroy the wires. 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 soldier went to that single open point, which 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 New Zealanders down, who massed at the road. The other Battalions faced the similar problems, so they also couldn’t get any further and failed to reach the Red Line. The 12th of October 1917 will be remembered as one of the most darkest days in the history of the New Zealand.

Lance Corporal Neill, 35, was reported wounded and missing. A Court of Inquiry held in 1918 concluded that he died on the battlefield. His remains were eventually exhumed just northwest of the German positions at Bellevue. He was interred in Tyne Cot Cemetery.