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William Laughton

Photograph of the grave of William Laughton 13199. Image kindly provided by Sue Petrie (February 2018). Image may be subject to copyright restrictions.

Photograph of the grave of William Laughton 13199. Image kindly provided by Sue Petrie (February 201 …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    William AWMM
  • Surname
    Laughton AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWI 13199 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    9 September 1885 New Zealand War Graves Project New Zealand War Graves Project
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    John Laughton (father), Orkney Islands, Scotland AWMM
  • Relationship status


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWI 13199 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

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
  • 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
    14 October 1917 AWMMKilled in Action, Cause of Death AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • William Laughton was the son of John and Mary Laughton, of Easterbister Holm, Orkney Islands, Scotland.

      Previously employed as Farmer by G S Rutherford, Albury, Canterbury AWMM
    • 13199 Gunner William Laughton

      William Laughton was born on 9th September 1885, the second son of John Laughton and Mary Laughton (née Harcus) of Easterbister, Holm. William served five years as a Territorial in the Orkney Royal Garrison Artillery, before he travelled out to New Zealand between 1905 and 1910. William worked there on the farm of his Uncle, John Bitchener, in the Waimate district in Canterbury province on South Island.

      William had been rejected once as unfit for military service, because of an injured knee, before he volunteered and joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1916. William attested at Trentham on 9th March, when he was thirty years old.

      Because of William’s experience in the Orkney Garrison Artillery, he was assigned to the New Zealand Field Artillery as a Gunner, given number 13199. He later also qualified as a Signaller. On 26th June William embarked at Wellington on H.S. Tahiti as part of 14th Reinforcements, New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

      William was fined 8 shillings on 3rd August during the voyage to Europe, probably for fighting as he had a quick temper. William landed at Devonport on 22nd August and travelled to the main New Zealand base in Britain at Camp Sling, Bulford on Salisbury Plain. William remained there until the beginning of 1917, when he left for France on 4th January. He spent nearly three weeks at Etaples, passing through its infamous “Bull Ring”, before joined the New Zealand Division on 24th January. The New Zealand Division had lost 7,408 casualties during the 1916 Battle of the Somme, where it added to the good reputation that the two New Zealand Brigades established at Gallipoli in 1915.

      In October 1916 the New Zealand Division had returned to the Lys area, where it served in British Second Army during most of 1917. After serving a fortnight in the Divisional Ammunition Column, William Laughton joined 13th Battery in 3rd Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery on 10th February.

      William’s battery provided a few of the 2,266 guns and howitzers which supported the successful offensive that captured Messines Ridge in early June. William was probably awed when the explosion of nineteen huge mines opened the attack on the ridge, burying many of the defending Germans. The New Zealanders still had a hard fight to clear Bavarian troops out of the village of Messines.

      At the end of September the New Zealand Division joined the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele. William had proceeded on leave to the UK on 15th September and visited his family in Orkney, before he rejoined his battery on the 29th. 3rd Brigade was one of ten artillery brigades that at 6 am on 4th October opened a “hurricane” bombardment, which smashed a planned major German attack and allowed the New Zealand infantry to advance and capture all their objectives on Gravenstafel spur.

      Heavy rain had turned the front in to a “porridge” of mud before the New Zealanders’ next attack on the 12th, which took heavy loss and failed to capture the Bellevue spur. William was probably killed by German defensive artillery fire on 14th October, but he may have been one of the artillery personnel that joined many others employed that day in clearing wounded from the battlefield and been shot by a German sniper. William Laughton is buried in grave M23, Divisional Cemetery, Ieper, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. Public - Susan Jane - Other relative - 8 June 2016 -
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About death

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  • Death
    14 October 1917 AWMM
    Age 32 AWMM
    YpresBelgium AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Divisional Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium AWMM M. 23. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • William was the son of John Laughton of Easterbister, in Orkney b. 1859. John Laughton married Mary Harcus. John Laughton's sister Margaret b. 1847 married David Laughton and is my direct line. William is therefore a cousin. William spent time at his Uncle John Bitchener's farm in the Waimate District. John Bitchener married William's aunt (Mary Laughton) in Invercargill - see Wikipedia page on John Bitchener. So many Orkney boys and men fought and died for their country - to make the world a better place. We will be forever grateful for their sacrifice and we will remember.
    Public - Susan - Other relative - 22 October 2015
  • I share your last name, and your first name. I am probably related to you, as you came from the same place in Scotland as my ancestors did. Thank for your contribution to World War 1. You laid down your life, to fight for freedom, that continues today 100 years later. Thank you for your immense bravery, courage, and morality. From William Laughton (Relative)
    Public - William Laughton - Other Relative - 25 April 2015



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18 February 2018SueInverurie (Aberdeenshire), Scotland, UKOther relative
08 June 2016Susan JaneInverurie, ScotlandOther relative
22 October 2015SusanScotland UKOther relative
25 April 2015William LaughtonAuckland, New ZealandOther Relative
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