240 ROLAND BELFIELD GLANVILLE, M.C. ~ A.I.F
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, West Timaru into 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 in the footsteps of his teacher father who 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 retirement in 1962, at the Whangarei Boys’ High School where he was a revered and highly respected senior master.
During the 1980s Bill developed gangrene in one of his legs. In 1986 at the age of 85, Bill had run out of options with his one leg, a lack of stability had necessitated he move into permanent residential care. Members of Bill and Audrey’s extended families duly arrived to help clear out Bill’s house. A neighbour and life long friend, Eric Beddows, had seen the every growing rubbish pile outside that was being readied for the dump. In his curiosity Eric spotted a small head and shoulders photograph of a uniformed soldier which he pulled from the pile. He queried Bill’s relatives whether they knew who the picture was of but nobody had any idea, supposing it was probably one of Bill’s mates from his Army days long ago, but otherwise were not interested in it. Being a sentimental sort, Eric was loathed to see the photo dumped and asked if he could hang on to it as one of Bill’s descendants might someday be interested in having it. might like to have it so he ‘rescued’ the photo. “Of course you can Eric, help yourself” was the response and so it was tucked away with Eric’s other personal keepsakes for the next 30 odd years.
In October 2015, once more reminded of the photograph during his own clean-out, Eric decide to advertise the photograph in the hope someone would recognise who it was and claim it. He had sought assistance from the Auckland Auckland War Memorial Museum who indicated they believed it to be Roland Belfield Glanville of the A.I.F. Armed with this information Eric posted the advertisement and picture (below) of Roland on his profile page in “Cenotaph”, the Museum’s public website that contains the files of all the New Zealand soldiers who enlisted in the NZEF for the First World War. The database also includes New Zealander’s who served with other nations of the Empire, which included Roland.
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 the First World War but with the 8th Australian (Infantry) Battalion, 1st Australian Imperial Force (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 responses to the advertised photograph and so as a last resort, contacted Medals Reunited New Zealand whose work reuniting medals he had read about in an RSA Review newspaper.
Born in July 1898, Roland Belfield Glanville was born in rural Belfield situated 4 km east of Geraldine in South Canterbury. Roland was the eldest of five Glanville children whose parents were William John Glanville (Snr) and Edith Annie MAY. William (Snr) had been the youngest child in a family of 13 whose ancestral home was the Kilmore area of Victoria, Australia where several successive generations of Glanvilles had been Bootmakers.
William, a school master, had immigrated to NZ with his family in the late 1880s and took up the position of Schoolmaster at the Belfield School while his sister Alice, also a teacher, had also been engaged to teach at Belfield. William and Edith had five children born either at Belfieled or Pareora West where William was later posted. Roland was the eldest child followed by sister Winifred Irene Fergusson, Eric Victor (served in the NZEF during WW1), William John (Jnr) and last, Cyril Gordon Glanville. A young neighbour, Eric Beddows also become an honorary ‘family’ member having been taken into William and Edith’s care on occasions as a boy.
In 1913, 21 year old Roland Glanville left home at Belfield and headed off to Melbourne where relatives of his father’s family lived. Once there his uncles, some of who were grocers, helped him to get a job as a grocer in Geelong, 75 kms south-west of Melbourne. Having had some prior military experience in Timaru with the Port Guards (2 years) and the Territorials – 2nd South Canterbury Regiment (3 years), it was an easy decision for Roland to make when volunteers for overseas service in Europe were called for in 1914. On 17 August 1914 Roland travelled from where he had been staying at the Bay View Hotel in Geelong, into Melbourne to the Broadmeadows Camp to enlist. He was duly Attested (contracted) with out delay thereby committing himself to serve His Majesty the King, in the 1st Australian Imperial Force for the duration of hostilities. Roland Glanville was 22 years and 3 months of age.
“I, Roland Belfield Glanville, swear that I will from the (17th of August, 1914) 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 had been enlisted as a Private soldier with ‘B’ Company of the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion. Following basic training, preparations and a civic farewell, parade and march through the Melbourne streets, the 8th Battalion embarked on the troopship A24 Benalla on 19 October 1914 and departed as part of the Main Body convoy for England. Thinking they were destined for the escalating war that had opened on the Western Front in August, the convoy accompanying Benalla were directed mid-voyage to alter course from England to Suez in Egypt. This sudden change of direction had been bought about the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the war as an ally of Germany. The Ottoman’s had deployed forces along their western coast to counter any proposed attempts to land forces.
After seven months of preparation punctuated with skirmishes along the Suez Canal by infiltrating Ottomans trying to seize control of the Canal, Pte. Glanville and the 8th Battalion embarked the “Clan McGillivray” at Alexandria on the 5th of April and steamed away to join the British led Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) in preparation for the landings at Gallipoli. Pte Glanville and the 8th Battalion went ashore at Anzac Cove with the Second Wave on the first day of the Gallipoli campaign – 25 April 1915. Against the odds, Pte. Glanville survived and lasted four months on the Peninsula before being evacuated to England with Dysentery in August and did not rejoin his unit following the Anzacs withdrawal from Gallipoli, until March 1916. That same month the 8th Battalion was transported to France. By the time Pte. Glanville had reached the Western Front he was proving himself to be a capable and fearless soldier, who had devoted himself selflessly to his task under fire in the opening weeks of the Somme campaign. As a result, he was twice recommended for the Military Medal, as the following extracts from his records show:
Military Medal (Recommended)
Recommendation: For devotion to duty and good work as runner at Pozieres (14 men were recommended)
Recommendation date: 31 July 1916
Military Medal (Recommended)
Recommendation: 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 either of these occasions however his fearlessness and tenacity had been noted to be an example to his fellows. As a result, it was decided Pte. Glanville was to be rewarded with an officer’s commission. He was detached from the battalion to undertake formal officer training for 10 weeks at No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion in Oxford, England. Commissioned after successfully passing his training, Roland was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in January 1917. In February he returned to France and absorbed into the 5th Battalion of Infantry Reinforcements at Etaples, while awaiting a posting back to his battalion at the front. In July, 2Lt. Glanville was promoted to full Lieutenant and given command of his own Platoon in the 8th Battalion. Further tests of his skill and daring as leader came during the battles of Menin Gate and Polygon Wood in September 1917. It was during the Polygon Wood battle that Lt. Glanville particularly distinguished himself by his courage and leadership while bravely taking his Platoon forward in the face of withering enemy fire to reach their objectives. For his actions he was 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.
It is highly unlikely Lt. Glanville knew anything of his being recommended for a gallantry medal. As it transpired, the recommendation from his Commanding Officer for the award of a Military Cross would be approved but Roland would know nothing of it. Just seven days later on 4 October 1917 during the Passchendaele offensive at Ypres, Belgium, Lt. Roland Belfield Glanville while leading his platoon in the attack was killed outright by an artillery shell that exploded in front of his platoon’s objective. Roland was twelve weeks short of his 25th birthday. His remains were re-buried with full military honours in the Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Belgium after the war. Lt Glanville’s Military Cross was approved ten days after his death on 14 October 1917 and was gazetted as a posthumous award in March 1918. His mother Edith would eventually receive his Cross and war service medals together with a bronze Memorial Plaque and Scroll, and a photograph of her son’s grave.
Awards: Military Cross (Posth); 1914/15 Star; British War Medal, 1914/18; Victory Medal + Memorial Plaque and Scroll. Entitled to receive the ANZAC (Gallipoli) Commemorative Medallion (1967).
Service overseas: 2 yrs 320 days
Total A.I.F service: 3 yrs 19 days
Citation for Posthumous Award of the Military Cross
240 Lt. Roland Belfield Glanville, Military Cross
8th Battalion ~ Australian Imperial Force
‘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 No. 30583, Sup, 18 March 1918; ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 110-25/07/1918
You can read more about Lt. Roland B. 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 from those who still bore the Glanville name I thought would be relatively easy after finding just two in the Geraldine/Temuka/West Timaru telephone book, all areas that members of Roland’s family had lived in. I obviously thought wrong! Both families as it turned out were completely unrelated to Roland Glanville’s family, being relatively recent migrants from British origins.
So it was back to the drawing board to scrutinise William and Edith Glanville’s family tree for another descendant line that might produce living descendants. I started with Roland’s siblings:
- The original owner of Roland’s photograph was brother William John (Bill) Glanville of Whangarei. Bill and Audrey had died childless so there was no descendants to trace here.
- Of Roland’s other four brothers, Eric Victor Glanville appears to have died a bachelor in 1980. Brother Cyril Gordon and wife Joan Nancy SMITH’s first child had been stillborn. I did not discovered any other children, however I have recently (2021) been advised Cyril and Joan had been later blessed with a daughter, Agnes (Glanville) TAYLOR whose grand-daughter Alice I have to thank for providing the information.
- That left Roland’s only sister Winifred Irene Fergusson Glanville. Born in 1896, Winifred had married George Sealy HUTTON in 1921. Fortunately for me the Hutton’s had two healthy daughters, Joan and Shirley, one of whom married Frank Foster EVISON. After locating and Ancestry link to the Evison descendants I was able to make contact with a cousin of Frank’s who thankfully was able to steer me towards a direct descendant in Christchurch – David is the grandson of George and Winifred Glanville and therefore a great-nephew to Lt. Roland Belfield Glanville, MC.
I was delighted 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 asking MRNZ to assist with his fascinating find. Thanks also to Donald BH for his advice and guidance in locating the correct Glanville-Hutton ancestral line.
Footnote: 18 March 2017
Eric advises David has received the photograph of his great-uncle Roland Glanville – thank you Eric.