William Gentry was the son of Frederick Charles Gentry, a leather salesman, and his wife, Eliza Amy Lawson. The family emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand in 1910.
Attended Wellington College, 1913-15.
Gentry married Alexandra Nina Caverhill, a music teacher, in Masterton, 28 December 1926. They had a son and a daughter.
Commissioned Lieutenant Colonel and GSO2 (General Staff Officer, grade 2) with 2 NZEF, January 1940.
Acting GSO1, Crete, October 1940. Made OBE and received Greek Military Cross for his services in Crete.
AAQMG (Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General), Greece, 1941.
Colonel and GSO1 (General Staff Officer, grade 1), October 1941.
"When the commander of the 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade was captured early in September 1942, Freyberg put Gentry in his place and promoted him to brigadier. Although he had virtually no previous command experience, Gentry successfully led his brigade in the second battle of El Alamein and in the pursuit of the Axis forces across North Africa. He was twice mentioned in dispatches ... Gentry was made a DSO for displaying ‘the greatest coolness, skill and determination’ in the heavy fighting on the Alamein line." (DNZB)
Acting Deputy Chief of Staff (NZ), 1943-44.
Commander of all NZ Troops, Egypt, August 1944.
"He went to Italy in February 1945 to take command of the newly formed 9th New Zealand Infantry Brigade. He did an excellent job of training his new command and led it with great success in the final offensive of the war in Italy. His gallantry and exemplary conduct, often under fire, was a decisive factor in the victories achieved by the New Zealand Division. Gentry received a bar to the DSO in recognition of his exceptional services during the offensive, and was later made a commander in the US Legion of Merit." (DNZB)
Deputy Chief of Staff (NZ), July 1946.
Adjutant General, April 1949.
Major General and CGS (Chief of the General Staff), April 1952.
President of the Boy Scouts Association of New Zealand, 1957-67.
Honorary Colonel with 1st Battalion, Wellington Regiment, and with the RNZIR (Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment), 1964-67.
BDM gives birthdate as 20 February, whereas Polaschek gives it as 26 February. AWMM