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John Geoffrey Persse, 1884 - 1915

John Persse was killed in action at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915, aged 33. He is remembered on the Chunk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial at Chunuk Bair Cemetery, Turkey.

John was born in Sycamore Lodge, Loughrea Gort, County Galway, Ireland on 6 May 1884. His parents were Mary Monahan and Francis Fitz Adelm Persse. He had four sisters and a brother (who was killed in action with the British Navy in 1918). His father was a member of the Royal  Institute of British Architects and a Justice of the Peace. John was a member of a wealthy landed family and at one time held the clay pigeon championship of Ireland.

Persse attended Trinity College in Dublin where he studied law. He appears to have gone into practice and is listed in the 1910 Law Directory in Thom's Official Directory of Ireland.

By 1911 Persse was in New Zealand teaching. He was sole teacher at Mangaweka before taking up another sole teaching position at Riverton. He left teaching to return to law and after being admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New Zealand he was employed by the Napier law firm of Cotterill and Humphries to manage its newly-opened Hastings branch.

Persse appeared regularly in the Hastings and Napier Magistrates' Courts and his clients included the Hawke's Bay County Council. 

Persse enlisted on 14 August 1914 after the outbreak of war and underwent training at the Awapuni camp. His medical examination report shows he was 5 foot 9-1/2 tall (1.77 metres), weighed 154 pounds (69.9 kg) and had brown eyes and brown hair. He embarked from Wellington on 16 October 1914 with the Wellington Infantry Battalion, 9 Hawke's Bay Company. He was promoted to Corporal on arrival in Suez, Egypt.

Persse was reported killed in action in fighting at Dardanelles on 8 August 1915. A tribute to him in the Hastings Standard said "His quiet, unassuming manner won him a host of friends, who will greatly regret his death." 

His name is recorded with 19 other solicitors on the Solicitors' Memorial at Four Courts in Dublin. 

In New Zealand Persse is remembered on the Hastings War Memorial.  

Sources: Dominion, 27 May 1911, page 15; New Zealand Electoral Roll, 1911, Waimarino electorate; Wanganui Chronicle, 16 May 1912, page 8; Hastings Standard, 7 August 1913, page 5; Oamaru Mail, 11 August 1913, page 7; Hastings Standard, 4 October 1913, page 3; Hastings Standard, 16 June 1914, page 6; Newcastle Journal, 30 August 1915, page 9; Manawatu Standard, 4 September 1914, page 2; Hastings Standard, 28 August 1915, page 5; Taranaki Daily News, 28 August 1915, page 5; Press, 1 September 1915, page 8;  Evening Post, 9 December 1918, page 9; SW Grant, The Law Society of the District of Hawke's Bay (1986). 

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 9th April 2015