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4/344a Sapper/Gunner Hugh Albert Steers NZEF

NZEF Trio - Samoa/France - Steers

  • The 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal issued to 4/344a H.A. Steers, who served in Samoa and on the Western Front and rose to become the commercial manager of the New Zealand Railways in 1945.


    Hugh Steers was born Hugh Albert Henningsen in Dunedin on 8th February 1891. Son of Danish immigrants Robert Steers Henningsen and Johanne Emilie Henningsen (née Schierning). At some early stage of his life, Hugh Henningsen went bythe name Hugh Steers, and it was under this name he is recorded throughout his life and career.


    Hugh Steers became a cadet in the New Zealand Railways around 1910, working as a clerk in various clerical offices around Otago. He saw territorial service with B Battery, NZ Field Artillery and with the New Zealand Railway Engineers, and when calls went out for men to join the force destined for Samoa in August 1914, Steers was quick to volunteer. He served in Samoa with the Railway Engineers from the landing in Samoa until April 1915, when he returned to New Zealand and was discharged.


    Steers, like so many who had served in Samoa, re-enlisted in the NZEF in December 1915, joining the New Zealand Field Artillery and sailed with the 11th Reinforcements. He served on the Western Front with 5th Battery, 2nd Brigade, NZFA from July 1916. He was slightly wounded on 31st July 1917 (gunshot wound to right leg), remaining with his unit. He served in the field throughout the war, except for a period between late March 1918 and early August 1918, when he was being treated for a medical condition. Steers returned to New Zealand in 1919 and was discharged.


    Steers returned to his employment with the New Zealand Railways, rising through the ranks to become the Commercial Manager of New Zealand Rail in 1945. He served in this role for three years before retiring in 1948. Hugh Steers died at Tauranga on 12th January 1971, survived by his second wife Marjorie, his first wife, Alison having predeceased him in 1961.


    Whilst Steers received a new service number on his enlistment in 1915 (2/3093), all three medals are correctly impressed with his original Samoan Expeditionary Force number 3/344A GNR. H.A. STEERS. N.Z.E.F.

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