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4526 Trooper Donald Thomas Forbes, 7th NZMR Contingent

7th NZMR QSA - Forbes

  • Donald Thomas Forbes was born 8th June 1880 at Orepuki, New Zealand. Son of John and Catherine Forbes (née McDonald). At the time of his enlistment in the 7th New Zealand Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles, for service in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, Forbes was listed as an unemployed miner.


    Forbes served in South Africa from May 1901 with 25 (Otago) Company. The 7th Contingent saw much action during their twelve month tour, and suffered the highest casualty rate of any New Zealand Contingent. During the bitter fight at Bothasberg in February 1902, several members of the Otago company were killed or wounded but it is unclear if Forbes was present at the scene of the action. The New Zealanders were holding a fairly long line of defences, and only small proportion of them came under direct attack as the Boer forces attempted to break through.


    After the war Forbes married Frances Mary Shilton and had a family of seven children. Sadly one of their sons, John Forbes, was to be killed in action at the Sangro River in Italy in late 1943 whilst serving with the 2nd NZEF.


    Donald Forbes worked for at least a decade at the Portland Cement Works near Whangarei. On the afternoon of 16th March 1931, whilst winching some chains, the winch was released, causing the heavy chains to fall. The winch handle spun rapidly around and struck Forbes in the chest. Whilst apparently surviving the impact, the following month, on 14th April 1931, Forbes died from 'heart seizure'. The subsequent coroner's inquest determined the winch accident the previous month 'probably' did not cause the death of Forbes, but it does seem quite coincidental (coroners report available on request). He is buried in Kioreroa Cemetery.

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