23/779 Willie Hepworth
NZEF Trio - 23/779 Hepworth
The 1914/15 Star trio issued to 23/779 Willie Hepworth, who served as a bomber with 1st Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade and was wounded on the Somme.
Willie Hepworth was born 1st August 1886 in Yorkshire, England. Son of Samuel Chadwick and Sarah Ann Holt Hepworth (née Pickles). Samuel and at least two of his sons, including Willie, emigrated to New Zealand prior to 1911. Samuel settled in the Hutt Valley, and Willie settled in Dunedin, where he worked as a Loom Tuner for the Roslyn Woolen Mills. Sarah and their daughters appear to have come to New Zealand sometime after 1911.
Willie enlisted in the NZEF in May 1915, and embarked with 1st Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade in October 1915. He served with the Western Frontier Force during the Senussi Campaign over Christmas 1915 before transferring to France on the formation of the New Zealand Division in April 1916.
After training as a grenade-thrower (bomber) in August 1916, Willie served through the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in mid-Setember 1916. During the subsequent Battle of Morval in late September, Willie suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was evacuated to London. He was subsequently classified unfit for further service, and returned to New Zealand for discharge. Willie married Agnes Gray in 1924, and died on 29th September 1958.
All three medals are correctly impressed 23/779 RFLM. W. HEPWORTH. N.Z.E.F. and comes with the original box for the 1914/15 Star. Note, thedigital photo of Hepworth is taken from the New Zealand Sports and Dramatic Review of 28/12/1916 from Papers Past.