National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

‘Manx’ Ploughman Heads to France

John James Killip was born on 21 April 1888 on the Isle of Man to parents Alfred and Agnes Killip.

With both parents deceased, John Killip, a tall, tough man, travelled to New Zealand and at the outbreak of World War One, John was working as a Ploughman for Brownlees Sawmill in Kahutara.

John Killip married Emily Brimble in Wellington on 14 June 1915 and they had a daughter, Thelma Ann in Featherston on 29 April 1917.

Having completed Territorial service prior to WWI, John Killip felt a duty to serve and enlisted with the NZ Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 19 September 1917, training at Trentham and Featherston before embarking from Wellington on 31 December 1917 aboard the Athenic, arriving in Glasgow, Scotland on 25 February 1918. He was with the 33rd Reinforcements, C Company, Canterbury Infantry Regiment.

From Glasgow, John Killip headed south by train and marched into Larkhill Camp and then Sling Camp (on the Salisbury Plain). After a couple of months training, John left for France, arriving in Etaples on 17 May 1918, going into the field two days later.

John saw three months action on the Western Front before being wounded in France on 24 August 1918. He received a gunshot wound to the thigh that shattered the bone and he was transferred to the NZ Field Ambulance, then the No. 19 Casualty Clearing Station and finally a hospital (possibly Canadian) at Rouen on the 25th.

The battle John was involved in was the capture of the town of Bapaume which was strongly held by the Germans. The men came under heavy machine gun and artillery fire as they approached the town.

They took the small hamlet of Avesnes-les-Bapuame but were later driven back. At some stage of this battle, John Killip was hit. The ‘Kiwis’ would capture Bapaume over the next few days.

On 11 September, John Killip was transported across the channel to the No. 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst (South of England) for a month before heading to Southampton on 19 December 1918 and leaving aboard the NZ hospital ship Marama bound for home.

65503 Private John James Killip was discharged from the Army on 9 January 1920 as “no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in battle.”

John Killip returned to the Wairarapa, passing away in Masterton on 3 May 1960. Today, his grandson lives in Taihape and works as a digger driver.