Horace William Birch – The Kiwi from Kingsley Holt.

Horace was born on 15th October 1890 at Froghall to Thomas and Elizabeth Anne Birch. In 1901 at the census Horace, his sister Blanche and Elizabeth were at an address in Nottingham as visitors.

In 1911 Horace’s parents and his brother Henry were living in Kingsley Holt (no street address) with Thomas’s occupation given as a Licensed Lay Preacher. There are no records  we can find to show where Horace was nor any definitive emigration record to show him leaving the country. There are some H Birch’s entering New Zealand in the 1900’s but there is insufficient detail to say for sure. However what we can say is that on 11th June 1915 Horace enlisted in the New Zealand Army with the Otago Infantry.

His record has some detail and we know he was a fruit farmer and during his service rose to Company Sergeant Major. His next of kin was his mother Mrs Birch from Kingsley Holt which later changed to Little Hayes Woodhead, Cheadle.

We first found out about Horace from the Cheadle and Tean Times in October 1916 when it referred to him joining up and serving at Gallipoli and later in France where he had been wounded.

He remained a British Citizen and in 1918 is shown as a military or naval voter and resident with his mother in Kingsley Holt. It is highly likely that whilst recovering  from his wounds or on leave he visited his mother and provided his details for the voters list. Thomas Birch died in 1918 and Elizabeth in 1922.

Following the end of the war he returned to New Zealand where he died in 1933. Interestingly he  returned to Britain at least once as in 1924 a H W Birch aged 35 entered New Zealand from Southampton. He gave his occupation as an Orchard Manager born in Britain. He was with a J Birch who was a farmer. Further research shows that a H Birch aged 35 arrived in the UK on 24th June 1924 with the address he was to stay at whilst here given as Kingsley. He appeared to be travelling alone.

A website dedicated to the regiment during WW1 can be found HERE