condensed discuss document expanded export feedback print share remove reset document_white enquire_white export_white report_white

John Alexander Lee

Morrison, Robin. (1977) [John A. Lee]. Auckland War Memorial Museum neg. RMN5-5-50(35). All rights reserved.

Morrison, Robin. (1977) [John A. Lee]. Auckland War Memorial Museum neg. RMN5-5-50(35). All rights r …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    John Alexander AWMM
  • Surname
    Lee AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWI 16560 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

Contribute ›
  • Birth
    • 31 October 1890 AWMM DunedinOtago AWMM
    • 31 October 1890 Peter Dennis, UNSW Canberra DunedinOtago Peter Dennis, UNSW Canberra
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs J. Lee (wife), Post-office, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

Contribute ›
  • War
  • Campaign
    1914-1919 Western Front AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWI 16560 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

Contribute ›
  • Medals and Awards
    • Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) AWMM
      DCM. London Gazette, 14 August 1917. "(MESSINES 7 June 1917) For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During our offensive he showed great dash and coolness in attacking and capturing a machine-gun with its team. Later, when the advance was held up by an enemy post, he skilfully rushed it with two of his comrades, capturing two machine-guns and forty men." London Gazette'- 14/08/1917 AWMM
    • British War Medal (1914-1920) AWMM
    • Victory Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

Contribute ›
  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW1 10 March 1916 AWMM
    Age 26 AWMM
    Barman/Civilian AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


Contribute ›

Prisoner of war

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

Medical history

Contribute ›
  • Medical notes
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWI AWMM
      Shattered arm inflicted 12 April 1918 AWMM
    • Height, WWI AWMM
      5' 10" AWMM
    • Weight, WWI AWMM
      147 lb AWMM
    • Other, WWI AWMM
      Nature of Injury: Loss left forearm Pension: 28/- Percent of disability: [Not stated] Source: New Zealand. Army (1920). List of the names of all ex-members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, suffering permanent disability from 20% to 100% AWMM

Last known rank

Contribute ›
  • Last rank
    Inter War 16 August 1919 AWMM
    Discharged due to wounds AWMM
    Private AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

Contribute ›
  • John Alexander Lee was born in Dunedin and was educated at Albany Street School. He worked at a variety of jobs on farms, factories and the Public Works Department, which he joined in 1909. In Who's Who in New Zealand (4th ed) he is recorded as having married Marie E. Guy, daughter of T.B. Guy, in 1919.

    He served in France with the 1st Wellington Regiment and was awarded the DCM for conspicuous gallantry. In his history of the New Zealand Division (p. 199), Col. H. Stewart records the details of the Wellington company who pushed up the communication trench leading from October Support to Fanny's Farm (near Messines) and had to fight their way. "One man in this company, Pte. J.A. Lee, was prominent for fearless gallantry. He tackled single-handed a machine gun near the Wytschaete road and captured the 4 gunners, and later when the centre company was held up by an enemy post, he worked to its rear and rushed it successfully. In all this struggle the Stokes mortars gave valuable assistance, and here they ejected a machine gun from a concrete emplacement near the Wytschaete road, and silenced with 4 shells another troublesome one at the trench junction near Fanny's Farm. The left company [Wellington] secured 2 machine guns and 40 prisoners."

    The events which led to his wounding and loosing his left arm took place near Mailly Maillet in April 1918. The history of the Wellington Regiment records the events of April 1918 with the Battalion coping with mud which made the trenches difficult to walk through, cleaning up the trenches and digging a new support line. "On the 9th April, 1st Wellington relieved 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade, in the line, while 2nd Wellington relieved 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade in support. At this time, the enemy was very inactive and our casualties were but slight." Nevertheless it was during this relatively quiet time that Private Lee was injured by a shell.

    After the war he began a career in politics, contesting the Auckland East by-election in 1921. He served as Member of Parliament for this district from 1922-28. In 1931 he won the Grey Lynn seat, defeated J.S. Fletcher, and was re-elected to this district in 1935 and 1938 polling record majorities for New Zealand on each occasion. He was Parliamentary Under-secretary to the Minister of Finance from 1936-39. An active Labour Party member he was president of the Auckland Labour Party; he served on the executive of the Auckland Returned Services Association (RSA).

    Amongst his publications were Children of the Poor (1934), The Hunted (1936), Civilian into Soldier (1937), and Socialism in New Zealand (1938).

    Enlisted with rank of private and posted to G Company, 14th Reinforcements, Trentham Camp, Upper Hutt, 10 March 1916. Transferred to Specialist Company (Signals), 15th Reinforcements, 31 May 1916. Proceeded overseas from Wellington on board HMNZT 'Ulimaroa', 29 July 1916.

    Disembarked Devonport, England, marched into Sling Camp and taken on strength 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Auckland-Wellington Infantry Regiment, 28 September 1916.

    Struck off strength 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Auckland-Wellington Infantry Regiment, Sling camp, and proceeded overseas to France, 7 January 1917; disembarked and marched in to New Zealand Infantry and General Base Depot, Etaples, France, 9 January 1917. Taken on strength, 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, and posted to 9th (Hawke's Bay) Company, in the field, France, 5 February 1917.

    Attached New Zealand Wing Reinforcement Camp, France, 30 September 1917. Marched out on leave, 24 October 1917; rejoined battalion, 11 November 1917.

    Admitted to 11th Casualty Clearing Station, 26 December 1917 (influenza); discharged from hospital and rejoined battalion, 8 January 1918.
    Detached to 3rd Canadian Tunneling Company, 13 January 1918; ceased detachment and rejoined battalion, 18 January 1918.

    Wounded in action and admitted to No 1 New Zealand Field Ambulance, 12 April 1918 (gun shot wound, left hand); transferred to 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital, 13 April, 1918 (amputation of left hand mid-forearm carried out); transferred to No 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen, 14 April 1918; evacuated from France to England on board HMHS 'Grantilly Castle', 17 April 1917; admitted to No 1 New Zealand General Hospital, Brockenhurst, England, 19 April 1918; transferred to No 2 New Zealand General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames, 18 May 1918; discharged from No 2 New Zealand General Hospital, 9 October 1918. Supplied and fitted with McKay artificial limb, 22 April 1919.
    Struck off strength of Wellington Infantry Regiment, posted to Educational Department, NZEF Headquarters, and promoted to rank of Temporary Sergeant, 10 May 1919.

    Commenced return to New Zealand from Southampton, England, on board HMNZHS 'Marama', 9 June 1919.

    Disembarked in Auckland, New Zealand, 19 July 1919. Discharged as permanently unfit for war service on account of wounds received in action, 16 August 1919.

    Medals: Distinguished Conduct Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal

    Present address (as listed in New Zealand. Army (1920). List of the names of all ex-members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, suffering permanent disability from 20% to 100%): 57 Franklin Road, Auckland AWMM
Read more


About death

Contribute ›
  • Death
    13 June 1982 AWMM
    Age 92 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



Contribute ›
  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

Remember John Alexander Lee by laying a poppy.

Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of John Alexander Lee

Leave a note

Contribute ›



Contribute ›
  • External links
  • References
    • McDonald, W. (2013). Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War, 1914-1918. (3rd ed.). Hamilton, N.Z.: Richard Stowers. AWMM
    • New Zealand Army Expeditionary Force. (1917). Nominal Rolls of New Zealand Expeditionary Force Volume II. Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      37: 28 AWMM
    • Lee, J.A. (1976). Soldier. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed. AWMM
    • New Zealand. Army (1920). List of the names of all ex-members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, suffering permanent disability from 20% to 100%, compiled from returns supplied by the Commissioner of Pensions, in respect to: a) Permanent War Pensions, and from returns supplied by the Director-General of Medical Services, regarding: b) Discharged and undischarged hospital patients, assessed as suffering permanent disability, but not yet in receipt of a pension at date (28-4-20). New Zealand. Director-General of Medical Services. NZ Times Co. (Printer). AWMM
    • NZEF Peter Dennis, UNSW Canberra AWMM
    • Beattie, P.J. & Pomeroy, M. (2013-2020). Onward : portraits of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (vols 1-5). Auckland, New Zealand: Fair Dinkum Publications AWMM
      Vol. 2: Includes portrait AWMM
    • The ulima-roarer : a collection of wails & fishy stories, etc., from the Indian Ocean. (1916). [Indian Ocean]: [15th Reinforcements]. AWMM

The development of the Online Cenotaph is an ongoing process; updates, new images and records are added weekly. In some cases, records have yet to be confirmed by Museum staff, and there could be mistakes or omissions in the information provided.

Creative Commons LicenseOnline Cenotaph Data by Auckland War Memorial Museum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.