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4/659 Company Quartermaster-Sergeant James Gray Meek NZEF

NZEF Trio - 4/659 CQMS Meek - Wounded and Interviewed

SKU: ZM202
  • The interesting 1914/15 Star trio issued to James Gray Meek, who saw extensive service at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Wounded in action around Le Quesnoy on 5th November 1918, resulting in the amputation of his left leg. Meek was later interviewed about his experiences in 1959.


    James "Jim" Gray Meek was born 6th November 1887 at Forfar, Dundee, Scotland. Son of Marshall and Margaret Maxwell Meek (née Gray). By 1912, Meek was working as a carpenter at Lautoka, Fiji. He subsequently travelled to Honolulu, Hawaii, but found himself in New Zealand when war was declared in 1914. With his carpentry background, Meek was posted to the NZ Field Engineers, 4th Reinforcements. He served on Gallipoli with 1st Field Company from May 1915 until September, when he was evacuated, like so many, suffering from eneteritis.


    In his later interview, Meek said this of Gallipoli: "Nothing was easy to do, so nothing was easy to forget. Everything was difficult to do and so difficult to forget. Let me see how many jobs I can remember: barbed wire entanglements, bomb-deflecting screens out in front, overhead cover on the frontline trench, snipers' possies facing Dead Man's Ridge - or as it was sometimes called No Man's Ridge, steps up the steepest of the saps where the clay had been pounded to dust, loopholes in the frontline parapet with some iron or steel loophole plates added later, recesses in the frontline for additional riflemen, an emergency machine gun possie on top of a long shaft tunnelled up through the ridge on the right of the position with a tiny aperture for seeing and firing down on the Turks position if ever they should decide to advance against Quinn's. Sandbag barricades on tracks leading up to Quinn's, additional deviation saps in case those generally in use were blocked during an attack, counter-mining underneath the Turks' mines and underneath the Turks' trenches, restoring frontline clay parapets that had been shot, of course to dust, with bags of shingle lumped by the Diggers all the way from the beach. Then we put up bridge barricades across the approaches to the Post to block the spent machine gun fire of the Turks. We established pits for home-made trench mortars. We supplied periscopes and periscope rifles to the boys in the frontline. We established dumps where emergency tools and materials could be had as soon as required by the garrison of Quinn's."


    On his recovery, Meek transferred to the Western Front, and was promoted to sergeant. He served in the field right through to September 1917, when he was posted to the NZ Engineers Depot at Christchurch. He returned to France in December 1917, and in January 1918 was appointed Company Quartermaster-Sergeant. In October 1918 Meek transferred to 1st Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, as he had been identified as a candidate for a commission. It was whilst serving with the infantry, on 5th November 1918, that Meek suffered a gunshot wound that resulted in the amputation of his left leg. He returned to New Zealand in late 1919, and was discharged in November of that year.


    Meek married Jessie Roberts Lister before he left the UK in 1919, but this marriage ended in divorce in 1929. He subsequently married Winifred Olive Philpott, in 1931, and the couple resided at Taylor's Mistake and, latterly, Sydenham, near Christchurch, where Jim continued to work as a carpenter and joiner. During WW2 he worked at Burnham Camp, receiving the 1939/45 War Medal and NZ War Service Medal in 1950. In 1959 he gave an extensive recorded interview of his experiences on Gallipoli, the recording of which is available from Nga Taonga Sound and Vision Archive. An excerpt may be heard here.


    Jim Meek died at Christchurch on 5th February 1960, and is buried at Ruru Lawn Cemetery, in the soldier's section.


    The trio is all correctly impressed 4/659 C.Q.M.S. J. G. MEEK. N.Z.E.F. and the WW2 pair are unnamed, as issued. The medals are still on their original, as worn by Meek.

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