The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Godfrey Halse

HALSE, Godfrey

Godfrey Halse was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 3rd December 1891 to William Halse and Margaret Godfrey. William was the son of an early settler, Henry Halse, who had come to New Zealand from England in 1841 and became a Judge of the Native Land Court. William worked with the Australian Mutual Provident Society, as did Godfrey later. Two girls were born before Godfrey, but William died of typhoid in 1894, at the age of thirty seven.

Godfrey Halse enlisted as a Private on the 10th August 1914 and was part of the Samoa Expeditionary Force that left New Zealand on the 15th August. Samoa was then a Protectorate of Imperial Germany with a wireless station that the British Government requested would be seized. Samoa was occupied on the 29th August, when no German resistance was offered. Godfrey Halse remained in Samoa until April 1915 working with the Medical Corps. He was transferred to Europe where, in February 1916, he was promoted to Corporal and to Sergeant in April. He was demoted again in August but over the next year worked his way back up, while working with the Field Ambulance in France. In March 1918 he was promoted 2nd Lieutenant and continued to serve in France. He was wounded in his shoulder in September and sent to hospital in England, from where his mother received word that he was doing well.

He subsequently went on leave to Ireland and the night before he returned he spent in Ross’s Hotel, Parkgate Street, in Dublin where two R.A.M.C. officers, Duggan and Bassett, were also staying prior to travelling on RMS Leinster. Halse’s arm was clamped in a metal frame to keep his shoulder in position. When the torpedo hit the ship Godfrey Halse was helped into a lifejacket, possibly by one of the R.A.M.C. men, and he jumped into the water. According to a report in the Irish Times he floated for some time before reaching a lifeboat that he was able to hang on to with his good arm. Eventually, close to unconsciousness, he was hauled into the boat, and later brought ashore to the Red Cross Hospital in Dublin Castle.

He was declared unfit for service and returned to New Zealand in December, finally being discharged from the army in June 1919. He took up his old job of Insurance Clerk in the Australian Mutual Provident Society, becoming Manager of his local office. In 1929 he married Coreen Hubner and they had two children. In 1931 he was promoted to be Manager of the Palmerston office. However, in 1937, he was accused of stealing £2,900 from clients of the Society and in February 1938 was sentenced to eighteen months ‘reformative detention’. Godfrey Halse died in June 1956 and is buried in the Karori Cemetery in Wellington.



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