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William Roy Carswell



  • Title
  • Forenames
    William Roy AWMM
  • Surname
    Carswell AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII 30483 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    20 December 1914 AWMM DunedinOtago AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Pre 1940-1941 AWMM Wellington Hospital AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr. William Elliott Carswell, 212 High St., Dunedin (father) AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Married/WWII AWMM
    Hazel AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Maj W. R. Carswell, MC; Palmerston North; born Dunedin, 20 Dec 1914; surgeon; RMO 19 Bn 1941–43; surgeon 1 CCS, 1 FSU, and 1 Gen Hosp, 1943–45. (Source: Sinclair, D.W. 19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. p.148.)

    'For the two New Zealand brigades, who with the British armour and attached troops had at the approaches to Tobruk defied 15 and 21 German Armoured Divisions and the Axis infantry, it had been a memorable campaign. Though they had eventually lost Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed, the New Zealanders had wrought such havoc in the ranks of Rommel’s forces that his temporary advantage was not worth the final cost. Tobruk had been relieved; the campaign was closing, and of the New Zealanders only 5 Brigade remained in the Desert engaged in final clearing-up operations. Both sides were now back on the defensive, preparing to face as best they could the formidable problems of the next round.
    The high hopes held early in the campaign were realised only in part and only after very heavy sacrifices. The battles so largely dominated by armour showed clearly the disadvantages under which our army was fighting. The panzers’ system of field maintenance and recovery was superior to ours, and the anti-tank guns which supported the German armour had caused many casualties among our tanks which, once hit, could seldom be recovered. It was clear that these material factors, plus the enemy commander’s appreciation of the high importance of the principle of concentration of force and his skilful integration of all arms in battle where armour was employed, had given him a distinct advantage over Eighth Army.
    To the individual soldier the campaign had been more confused even than Crete. Lack of knowledge of what was taking place, not only in other areas but even between units in the same brigade, left little individual appreciation of real objectives. There was bewilderment over many of the moves backwards and forwards across the battle area. Nevertheless the New Zealand Division had every reason to be proud of its performance. The actions fought during the advance and the difficult days spent at Sidi Rezegh, Belhamed, Ed Duda, and Zaafran had clearly demonstrated both its efficiency and doggedness. The Germans themselves, writing of the campaign, referred to ‘the skilful New Zealanders’.
    The swift succession of events; the lack of pattern; the uncertainty of identification, indecision, then sudden, hurried movements; all these made the campaign a mad, disjointed medley. These highlights and shadows will remain always with those who took part: the grand moves of MT; the comforting roar of RAF aircraft in the skies; the misery of bitter nights and days spent on the defensive in the unfriendly wastes; the scanty and almost undrinkable water; the sorry plight of the prisoners; the mad scramble behind tanks during the attack and the indomitable spirit which pervaded the whole force even on the most difficult days. It was clear to all that this round had been indecisive. Rommel’s difficulties, aggravated by lack of adequate air support, tended to offset his advantage in armour. The Afrika Korps was respectfully regarded for the skill and stamina it had shown in the fight just ended. But at Baggush as the ‘sitreps’ followed the enemy’s retreat, few doubted that Rommel would come again.
    Four thousand five hundred and ninety-four New Zealanders—almost a quarter of the force that passed through the Wire into Libya on that bleak November night, were lost in the campaign. The 19th Battalion had been most fortunate; it suffered less than any other infantry unit in the Division. Thirteen men of the battalion gave their lives: seven were killed in action, and six died of wounds or went down in the Chakdina when this ship, carrying wounded from Tobruk, was sunk by air attack while en route for Alexandria. The roll of wounded totalled only seventeen, and when the unit check-up was complete there were none of the 19th men unaccounted for. The untiringly cheerful and courageous work of the RMO, Captain Bill Carswell, not only in this campaign but during Greece and Crete, earned him the respect and confidence of all ranks. His award of an immediate MC was a popular and well deserved decoration.' (Source: Sinclair, D.W. 19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. pp. 227-228.) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    8 November 1971 AWMM
    Age 56 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Kelvin Grove Cemetery Palmerston North New Zealand AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • External links
  • References
    • Sinclair, D. (1954). 19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.76, 148, 227-228. AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 3 (Embarkations from 1st July, 1940 to 31st March, 1941). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      p.77 AWMM

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