Historic photo of KIA Military Cross recipient reunited with family …
When Eric Beddows retired he and his wife bought a house in Manse Street, Whangarei next door to Bill and Audrey Glanville. William James (Bill) Glanville and wife Audrey had lived in their Manse Street house for many years, since 1928 in fact. Bill Glanville had married Audrey Marion, nee BISSETT, in 1927 and the following year Bill took a teaching position at Whangarei Boys’ High School. The Glanvilles moved from Bill’s ancestral home at Pareora in West Timaru into number 25 Manse Street which had been Audrey’s family home since the mid 1880s, and there they would remain for the rest of their lives.
Bill Glanville was a life-long educator. He had started teaching at the Belfield School in Pareora in the early 1920s, following his teacher father whom had preceded him at the same school. Apart from a relief teaching job at Darfield for a few years in the 1920s, Bill spent the remainder of his teaching career until his retirement in 1962 at the Whangarei Boys’ High School where he became a revered and highly respected senior master.
During the 1980s Bill had developed gangrene in one of his legs and on the day in 1986 that Bill, then 85 years old, was being transferred into permanent residential care, neighbour Eric Beddows noted a pile of rubbish being readied for the dump as Bill and Audrey’s relatives helped to clear out their house. Eric had also spotted a photograph of a WW1 uniformed soldier and being a sentimental sort thought that someday someone, maybe family or perhaps a descendant, may be interested in having it. Those clearing the house did not know who it was in the photograph but guessed it was one of Bill’s old mates or some long lost relative but otherwise were not interested. Eric asked if he could have the photo since it was going to the dump, “of course, help yourself”, and so Eric kept the picture in safe custody for the next 20 years.
In October 2015 Eric decide to advertise the photograph in an attempt to attract a Glanville descendant. He posted this picture (below) on the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph website.
On the back of the photo was a personal note in Roland’s hand to his mother Edith written whilst studying at the Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford, England for an officer’s commission – it was signed and dated 20/12/16. From these details Eric’s research ascertained that the photo was that of his former next-door neighbour Bill’s eldest brother – 240 Lieutenant Roland Belfield Glanville, MC – A.I.F. Roland Glanville had served not with the N.Z.E.F. during WW1 but with the 8th Australian (Infantry) Battalion, First Australian Imperial Force (1st A.I.F.). Brother Bill died in 1989 and his wife Audrey the following year. Since they had had no children Eric ruled out any potential for further information about the photograph or whom it might go to.
By January 2017 Eric had had no takers for the photograph and so contacted Medal Reunited New Zealand for help.
Roland Belfield Glanville (named after the place he was born) born in 1898 was the eldest of the five Glanville children whose parents were William John Glanville (snr) and Edith Annie MAY. William Glanville (snr) was the youngest child in a family of 13 whose ancestral home was the Kilmore area of Victoria, Australia where a number of successive Glanville generations had been Bootmakers.
The family of William Glanville (snr), a school master, had immigrated to NZ in the late 1880s and William took a position at the Belfield School as its schoolmaster whilst his sister Alice, also a teacher, taught there as well.
William and his wife Edith had five children born at Belfieled and Pareora West – Roland Belfield (eldest), Winifred Irene Fergusson, Eric Victor (served in WW1 with NZEF), William John (jnr) & Eric Beddows neighbour, and lastly Cyril Gordon Glanville.
In 1913, 21 year old Roland headed to Melbourne where there were relatives of his father’s family who helped him to secure a job as a grocer in Geelong, Victoria. Having had had some prior military experience with the Timaru Port Guards and territorials in Timaru it was an easy decision for Roland to volunteer for war service once enlistment for WW1 started. On August 17th 1914 Roland, who was living at the Bay View Hotel in Geelong, traveled into Melbourne to the Broadmeadows Camp to be attested for military service:
“I Roland Belfield Glanville swear that I will from 17.8.14 until the end of the War, and a further period of four months thereafter unless sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed, or removed there from and that I will resist His Majesty’s enemies and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained and that I will in all matters appertaining to my service faithfully discharge my duty according to law. So Help Me, God.” signed – Roland Belfield Glanville
Roland was enlisted as a Private soldier with ‘B’ Company of the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion which departed Melbourne on 19 October 1914 on the transport ship A24 Benalla. Pte. Glanville went ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 but by August had to be evacuated to England with dysentry. He did not rejoin his unit in Egypt until March 1916. The same month his battlion embarked for France. By the time he reached the Western Front Pte. Glanville was proving to be a very capable and mature soldier under pressure and was twice recommended for the award of the Military Medal:
Military Medal (Recommended)
For devotion to duty and good work as runner at Pozieres (14 men were recommended)
Recommendation date: 31 July 1916
Military Medal (Recommended)
For excellent services as runner and conspicuous bravery at Pozieres (3 men were recommended)
Recommendation date: 09 September 1916
Pte. Glanville was not awarded the Military Medal on these occasions however his fearlessness and leadership qualities had been noted and as a result Pte. Glanville was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in January 1917. In February he was detached from his battalion to undertake formal officer training at the Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford, England. Upon his return he was promoted to full Lieutenant in July and returned to the 8th Battalion as a Platoon Commander. Having survived the battles of Menin Gate and Polygon Wood in September 1917, the 8th Battalion was again in action again in the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October 1917. It was during this battle that Lt. Roland Glanville distinguished himself yet again whilst leading his men under fire which resulted in him being recommended for the award of the Military Cross.
Military Cross (Awarded)
Recommendation: For Conspicuous Gallantry and skill in leading his platoon in attack, resulting in valuable services being rendered. (Polygon Wood, 20 September 1917)
Recommendation date: 27 September 1917.
Whilst he may have known of the recommendation for a gallantry decoration, Lt. Glanville would never know its outcome. Just seven days later on 4 October 1917 during the offensive at Passchendaele, Ypres, Lt. Roland Belfield Glanville was killed outright by a shell exploding in front of their objective. Lt. Glanville was 24 years of age when he was buried with military honours at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Belgium. He WAS awarded the Military Cross.
Citation for Posthumous Award of the Military Cross
240 Lt. R.B. Glanville, Military Cross
‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his platoon with great dash and skill in an attack. At one period, when he found himself out of touch with his men and under heavy rifle fire, he went forward though his revolver ammunition was expended, and captured sixteen of the enemy. He showed great initiative and leadership throughout (since deceased). – LG 30583 Sup., 18 Mar 1918; ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 110-25/07/1918
Also: 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal (1914-1920), Victory Medal
You can read more about Lt. Roland Glanville, MC from his military files as well as some general background information on the following websites:
Auckland WM Centotaph:
Australian WM Museum:
South Canterbury WW1 history website:
Finding a Glanville descendant after a quick look in the White Pages at the Geraldine/Temuka/West Timaru/areas I though should be relatively easy since there were only a couple of families that still bore the Glanville name. Wrong – I struck out with both contacts being families totally unrelated from an English immigration heritage.
So it was back to the drawing board to re-build William & Edith Glanville’s family tree. I started with Roland’s siblings:
- The original owner of Roland’s photograph, brother William John (Bill) of Whangarei was of little use as he and Audrey had died childless.
- Of Roland’s other brothers Eric Victor died a bachelor in 1980, and Cyril Gordon and wife Joan Nancy SMITH unfortunately had only one child which was stillborn.
- That left Roland’s only sister Winifred Irene Fergusson, born in 1896 and married to George Sealy HUTTON in 1921. Fortunately the Hutton’s had two daughters Joan and Shirley, one of whom married Frank Foster EVISON. After following a family tree link on Ancestry I was able to make contact with a related cousin who steered me toward a direct descendant – David, grandson of George and Winifred and the great-nephew of Lt. Roland Belfield Glanville, MC.
Lt. Glanville’s parents also received his Memorial (‘Death’) Plaque & Scroll and the King’s Message
I was delighted to be able to give Eric the good news last night. The photograph will shortly be on its way from Eric to the Evison family in Christchurch.
My thanks to Eric for contacting MRNZ to assist with the search – my pleasure to be of service. Thanks also to Donald BH. for his genealogy guidance in locating the correct ancestral line of the Glanville-Hutton families.
FOOTNOTE: – 18 March 2017
David received the photograph of his great uncle from Eric this week – thank you Eric.