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Hugh Alexander Forrest, 1893 - 1917

Hugh Forrest was killed in action during the New Zealand attack in the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. He was aged 24. He is buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium.

Hugh (known as Alec) was born in Wellington on 30 May 1893. His parents were Jessie and William Forrest and Hugh had two brothers and a sister. His father worked for the Post and Telegraph Department and the family moved several times before settling in Devonport where William Forrest was Postmaster. Hugh went to Devonport Primary School and then Auckland Grammar School passing the national scholarship examination at the end of 1906.

On leaving school he was employed by H Morpeth of Morpeth Gould as a solicitor's clerk. He studied law through Auckland University College, which he attended from 1910 to 1914, passing his solicitor's qualifying examination. He played rugby and belonged to the Auckland College Rifles Rugby Football Club.

Photo of Lieut HA Forrest

Forrest was active in the territorial forces and was appointed a Second Lieutenant on 24 October 1912 after serving for two years in the 54th (North Auckland) Senior Cadets. He was promoted to Lieutenant in the territorial forces in March 1916. He enlisted on 24 July 1916 and was given the rank of Second Lieutenant on arrival at Trentham Camp. He was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1917. His medical examination report on enlistment shows he was 5 foot 8 tall (1.73 metres) and weighed 10 stone 4 pounds (65.3 kg).

On 16 February 1917 Forrest embarked from Wellington with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, J Company. He arrived in Devonport, England on 26 April 1917 and proceeded to Sling Camp until 4 June when his unit left for France. He was posted to B Company of the Rifle Brigade on 27 June and was on leave in Paris from 21 August until 28 August when he rejoined his unit.

Forrest was killed in action on 12 October 1917, the day 845 New Zealanders were killed in the First Battle of Passchendaele. The 2nd Battalion, of which Forrest was a member, attacked at 5:25am but a totally ineffective allied barrage meant there was no protection from German machinegun fire and most of the casualties occured in the first few hours.

He is remembered on the College Rifles Rugby Club Roll of Honour, the Devonport Primary School memorial granite tablet and the Auckland Grammar School Memorial. He is also remembered through Forrest Hill Road in Milford, which was renamed from White's Hill by the Takapuna Borough Council in 1919.

Sources: Auckland Star, 25 January 1907, page 3; Auckland Star, 31 October 1912, page 7; Dominion, 18 December 1913, page 3; Evening Post, 24 March 1916, page 8; New Zealand Herald, 25 July 1916, page 9; New Zealand Herald, 12 February 1917, page 7; WS Austin, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (LT Watkins Ltd, Wellington, 1924), pages 237-245; New Zealand Herald, 18 August 2001;  Auckland Council Libraries, Person: Hugh Alexander Forrest.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz.

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Last updated on the 12th October 2017