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Arthur John D'Arcy Heeney

Roll of Honour Portraits, from Left to Right: Second Lieutenant A. W. Moodie; Sgt E. A. Robinson; Pte. W. J. Kitto; Warrant Officer T.A. Pearse; Spr. S.C.C. Southwood; Engine Artificer. J. E. Moore; Gnr. L. C. O'Connor; L. Cpl. E. G. Jones; Gnr C. H. Fuller; W.O. R. T. Winstanley; Spr R. D. Rogers; Sgt. J. A. Smith; L. H. Jones; Act. E.-R-A. A. J. Heeny. New Zealand Free Lance, August 12, 1942. p. 26. Image kindly provided by Lewis Solomon (January 2021).

Roll of Honour Portraits, from Left to Right: Second Lieutenant A. W. Moodie; Sgt E. A. Robinson; Pt …

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  • Title
    Engine Room Artificer 4th Class Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 -
  • Forenames
    Arthur John D'Arcy AWMM
  • Surname
    Heeney AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Darcy Heeney Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - Research
  • Service number
    • 31 AWMM
    • WWII RN(NZ)31 AWMM
  • Gender
    • Male AWMM
    • Male Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - Research
  • Iwi
    • Ngāti Awa AWMM
    • Iwi Māori AWMM
    • of Irish and Ngati Awa descent Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 30 August 2015 -
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion
    Roman Catholic Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 30 August 2015 - Research

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    1916 Public Source
  • Date of birth
    1916 Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - and Research
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
    the son of John (Jack) and Greta Heeney (nee White) of Gisborne Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - and Research
  • Address before enlistment
    Gisborne Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - and Research
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status
    single Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - and Research


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
    Boxer (welterweight division) who represented NZ at the Empire Games in 1938 Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - and Research
  • Age on enlistment


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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
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Arthur Heeney was the son of John and Greta Heeney (nee White) of Gisborne, Auckland. He died when his ship, HMS Neptune, hit several mines in the sea off Tripoli and sank in December 1941.

      132 New Zealand ratings went missing as a result of the loss of H.M.S. Neptune. HMS Neptune was launched at Portsmouth on 31 January 1933. She was one of five 'Leander' class light cruisers completed between 1933 and 1935. Two others were HMS Achilles and Leander serving in the RNZN. They displaced 7,200 tons, could make 32 knots and carried eight 6 inch guns and 550 crew. The Neptune was in the Mediterranean from 1 December 1941 as part of Force K which was searching for Axis shipping, especially those taking supplies to Rommel in North Africa. Early on the 19th the ships of Force K ran into a minefield.The Neptune hit three or four mines and sank with only one survivor. At the same time the Aurora was badly damaged and Penelope slightly.Trying to reach Neptune to assist, the destroyer Kandahar was mined and had to be scuttled the following day. On the same day in Alexandria harbour the Queen Elizabeth with Admiral Cunningham on board and the Valiant were both badly damaged and sank.The Mediterranean Fleet battle squadron ceased to exist. Of the total crew of 766 there was only one survivor.He was rescued off a raft five days later by an Italian destroyer and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp. AWMM
    • The sinking of the Neptune.

      HMS Neptune, a Leander Class Cruiser, had seen service in the South Atlantic during 1939 and the Mediterranean and East Indies in 1940. Early in 1941, New Zealand agreed to partly man Neptune and 150 New Zealanders joined her in May of that year. The intention was for Neptune to sail for the New Zealand station and stand in for HMS Leander, which was to stay on overseas service.

      HMS Neptune under the Command of Captain Rory O’Conor sailed from Malta at high speed on the evening of 18 December 1941, in the company of six destroyers, to seek out the Italian Battleship force, which had been sighted by aerial reconnaissance about half - way between Malta and Benghazi.

      In the early morning of 19 December 1941 the force was about twenty miles from Tripoli when Neptune, which was leading, struck the first mine. Going full astern she hit another mine wrecking her propellers and steering gear, bringing the ship to a standstill. A minute or so later she exploded a third mine and took a heavy list to port. At about 0400, the Neptune set off a fourth mine, then quickly rolled over and sank. The order was given to abandon ship. A heavy sea was running and the men had to go overboard, death came quickly to many of her company, many perished as they tried to swim to safety.

      Only sixteen men of the ship’s company survived the sinking and were left afloat on a raft when daylight came. All but one of the survivors succumbed to thirst and exhaustion during the next six days. The sole survivor, Leading Seaman Norman Walton of the Royal Navy, was rescued by an Italian ship and was interned as a prisoner of war

      Neptune was deployed into the eastern Mediterranean for operations between Malta and Egypt and off the North African coast in July 1941. The 764 men including the 150 New Zealanders died when she sank in the early hours of 19th December 1941.

      The names of two officers and 148 ratings furnished, by far, the longest list of casualties in the war record of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 -
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About death

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  • Death
    19 December 1941 AWMM
    Age 25 AWMM
    Mediterranean 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



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  • Memorial name
    • New Zealand Naval Memorial, Devonport Naval Base, HMNZS Philomel, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories AWMM
    • Gisborne First World War Memorial, The Esplanade, Kaiti, Gisborne AWMM

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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
30 August 2015Lorraine MGisborne, NZResearcher

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