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42233 Private Francis Xavier Thurston, NZEF

NZEF Pair - Wounded and Lucky Escape!

  • The NZEF pair to 42233 Pte. Francis Xavier Thurston and the coins and scissors which potentially saved his life when they were struck by a shrapnel bullet!


    Francis 'Frank' Thurston was born 13th September 1896 at Waverley, Taranaki. Son of James Fisher and Ellen Josephine Thurston (née Murphy). He was working as a bank clerk for the Bank of New Zealand at Ngaruawahia when he enlisted for service with the NZEF in January 1917. Frank sailed for the UK with the 24th Reinforcements, arriving at Sling Camp in June 1917.


    Frank was posted to 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment in the field on 11th August 1917, whilst the regiment was holding the line around Warneton. It is assume that at some stage in 1917 he was struck by a shrapnel bullet, which hit his coin purse. The bullet was embedded in the coins, bending them and the small pair of scissors he was carrying. The assumption that this occured in 1917 is based on the paper-weight that came with the group, which is a 1917 coin encased in resin, possibly to signify how it was coins that may have saved Frank's life.

    Frank served throughout 1918 until he was wounded by a gunshot wound to the neck on 29th September 1918 and evacuated to the UK. This finished Frank's war, and upon recovery, he returned to New Zealand for discharge in 1919. Frank worked as a bank teller in the lower North Island throughout his working life. He died at Upper Hutt on 1st September 1981.


    Both medals are correctly impressed 42233 PTE. F.X. THURSTON. N.Z.E.F.

    The shrapnel bullet embedded in the coins and the paper-weight came with the medals back in the 1980s. They have had some blu-tack applied to keep them together.

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