Help translating NZ military records into Wikitree categories: "D" Coy, 25th RFTS, Rank: Rfm.

+6 votes

Hi! I have been looking at my great-grandfather's military records from World War I.

It seems to say on (for example) p. 8 of his military records that he was in D company, 25th Reinforcements, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Pp. 9-11 say his regiment or unit was NZ Rifle Brigade. Pp. 1, 9-11 say his rank was Rfm/Rfn, and p. 12 and other pages says it was Pte.

Pages 5, 12, 20 also list bodies he was transferred to at different times. At least some of these still seem to be part of D company 25th but some seem to mention other companies, regiments e.g. B Coy 4/Otago Regmt or 3/Bn Otago Rgt.

Looking at pp. 15 and 21, it seems he joined D Company, 25th Reinforcements, 4RB on enlistment.

An ID number that appears on various pages is 46681. (On page one 46955 is crossed out and 46681 is written on.)

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone could help me decide how to categorise him in the NZ WWI categories? I can't seem to find much information online about 25th Reinforcements, though there seems to be a bit more about Otago regiments.

WikiTree profile: Walter Borthwick
in Genealogy Help by Caleb Day G2G2 (2.1k points)

Hi Caleb,

The 46681 is his Regimental Number which he would have received on Enlistment.

Thanks a lot Simon!

3 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer

I will try to help a little bit:

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) was the title of the military forces sent from New Zealand to fight for Britain during World War I.

This NZEF had 3 subunits (brigades) and a divisional unit; Each brigade has subunits as well:

1. New Zealand Infantry Brigade

  • Auckland Battalion
  • Canterbury Battalion
  • Otago Battalion
  • Wellington Battalion
  • 1st New Zealand Infantry Brigade Signal Co.
  • New Zealand Field Ambulance No. 1

2. New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

  • Auckland Mounted Rifles
  • Canterbury Mounted Rifles
  • Wellington Mounted Rifles
  • New Zealand Engineers Field Troop
  • New Zealand Mounted Signal Troop
  • New Zealand Mounted Rifles Field Ambulance

3. New Zealand Field Artillery Brigade

  • 1st Field Battery
  • 2nd Field Battery
  • 3rd Field Battery
  • 1st Brigade Ammunition Column

4. divisional cavalry

  • Otago Mounted Rifle

In 1916 NZEF was raised to divisional strength; it now consisted of the 1st NZ Infantry Brigade, the 2nd NZ Infantry Brigade and the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade.

As many soldiers had died in the war, reinforcements were set up in NZ to replenish the decimated units.
The 25th Reinforcements (38 officer, 1816 other ranks) sailed towards the European theatre of war on 26 April 1917. For organisational reasons, they were naturally divided into battalions and companies.

That means that your ancestor was in the D-company of this 25th RFTS.

And this unit reinforced the NZ two Infantry brigades and the NZ Rifle Brigade.

If you mention Otago Battalion and B-Company, your ancestor was one of the soldiers who came after arriving at the theatre to the B-company, 1st Otago Battalion, 1st NZ Infantry Brigade of the NZEF.

If you are not so familiar with military matters, here is a short, general overview for NZ in WW I
- 1 division consisted of 3 - 4 brigades
- 1 brigade consisted of 4 battalions
- 1 battalion usually from 4 companies
- 1 company was then divided into platoons and squads.

To the rank of your ancestor:

Pte means Private; Rfm, Rfn means Rifleman.

All ordinary soldiers were called private, but private soldiers had different names when they served or were trained in different units.
A Rifleman is a special kind of Private. Higher ranks were corporal, sergeant etc.

For more information read:  and (pdf-Document)

by Dieter Lewerenz G2G6 Pilot (481k points)
selected by Caleb Day
Great Answer Dieter!!

Gotta save that for my own NZ ancestors!!!
Thanks for the star Caleb and for the "flowers" Robynne.

Thanks so much Dieter; that is extremely helpful!


Because of the date that he went overseas, I think he would have had to be in the 2nd or 4th brigade rather than the 1st, as there was no longer an Otago battalion in the 1st brigade after Jan 1917.


I had another look with the aid of your info, and I *think* I have worked out that he was in the following units:


·      From enlistment: D company of the 25th Reinforcements, as you’ve identified.

·      5-9-17, while “proceeding overseas”: perhaps an intermediate unit “B company 4/Otago Regt”? Or perhaps this description is part of the next unit? I am not sure what this particular entry means, because it refers to “Regiment” which isn’t in helpful hierarchy of divisions you provided. But if it is different to the next unit, it was only temporary anyway.

·      When he arrived overseas (9-11-1917): Joined 3rd Otago Battalion within the 4th NZ Infantry Brigade. Possibly D company within  this battalion, based on his listing here:

·      24-2-1918: Transferred to 3rd Battalion of the NZ (Rifle) Brigade, and took on the specific rank of Rifleman. Possibly A Company, though I can’t really read the handwriting.


Does this seem correct to you? (In separate comments, I will post screenshots of the important pages that *seem* to indicate what I’ve listed above.)


Thanks again for all your help!

OK screenshots didn't work but I've uploaded the key pages from his military records:

This one, page 1, is not so important, but the hand-written stuff in the top-right corner of page 1 seems to back up my narrative: D company (of 25th reinforcements) crossed out and replaced with 3rd NZ (Rifle) Bde, 3rd Battalion. And rank of Pte crossed out and replaced with Rfm.

You are right this is the organization from 1917 on. So he must have been in the 2nd or 4th Brigade.

Regiment is a unit that is usually placed between battalion and brigade. Most modern armies rarely use the term regiment. During the war the battallions were directly combined into brigades.
At the time of WW I the New Zealand Territorial Army was divided into regiments.
In 1914 the 4 companies of the Otago Battalion were formed from the personnel of the 4th (Otago), 8th (Southland), 10th (North Otago), and 14th (South Otago) Territorial Regiment.      

Could you reduce the size to width 500, then the whole image is displayed.
Have done. or i've also linked to where Ive uploaded the full-size files.

Thanks again.

I try to sort it out (Regiment means that they are part of the Ortago Regiment of the NZ Territorial Army and the Batallions of the Regiment are dispatched to different Brigades:

  • D-Company 25th Reinforcement Unit Private 08.02.1917
  • Fstn Detls (maybe a training) Private 17.04.1917
  • D-Company 25th Reinforcement Unit Private 17.04.1917
  • B-Company 4. Reserve Batallion, Otago Regiment Private 20.04.1917
  • B-Company 4. Batallion, Otago Regiment Private 05.09.1917
  • 10th Company 3. Batallion, Ortago Regiment Private 09.11.1917
  • A-Company 3. Batalion 3rd Mounted Rifle Brigade Rifleman 24.02.1918
  • Otago Regiment (attached to NZ???) wounded?? Private 08.09.1918
  • NZ Reserve Brigade Reserve Depot Private 31.10.1918
  • 3. Reserve Batallion ??? Private 11.12.1918

He was called Rifleman instead of Private during his time in the Rifle Brigade.

The handwritten document is very hard to read.

One thing is clear; He was member of the Otago Regiment of the NZ Territorial Army and went with the 25th Reinforcment Unit onto the European theatre where he was attached to different Brigades, mostly as a member of an Otago Batallion.

If you want to categorize him, the best way is to attach him to the Otago Regiment, that was his home Regiment.
Thanks so much for all your help, Dieter! I've requested for a category for the 3rd battalion of the Otago regiment (in the temporary 4th brigade) to be created, and I've also categorised him in the 3rd battalion of the Rifle Brigade, as that seems to have been an important part of his service (NZRB or the rank Rfm are also mentioned on quite a few other pages that I haven't screenshotted, and that was where he was when he got his injury that eventually got him discharged).

One small comment - were the 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade mounted? I can't see "Mounted" mentioned anywhere on Walter's records, but was that a cavalry brigade? (I do know that Walter was a member of a jockey club and owned a horse before the war, so he may have been attracted to the cavalry)

In 1914 there was aMounted Rifle Brigade as mentioned above.

But this one in 1917/18 wasn`t mounted. From the history of this Brigade:

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade was created in April 1915 as a second New Zealand infantry brigade, to complement the brigade then serving at Gallipoli. Initially known as ‘the Trentham Regiment (Earl of Liverpool’s Own)’, its recruits were drawn from throughout the country. The 1st and 2nd Battalions arrived in Egypt in time to become the only New Zealand unit to participate in the Senussi Campaign.

In January 1916, New Zealand’s infantry was divided into three brigades. The Rifle Brigade was officially known as the 3rd New Zealand (Rifles) Brigade for the rest of the war (‘New Zealand Rifle Brigade’ also served as a regimental list or posting for its soldiers). It shifted to the Western Front in April 1916 and spent the rest of the war there.

Cloth patches for the Headquaters (top) and (l to r) 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.NZ Rifle Brigade cloth patches

The Otago Infantry Regiment was one of four regional infantry groupings (along with Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury) which made up the bulk of New Zealand’s infantry forces during the First World War. It served as the Otago Battalion at Gallipoli in 1915 before being divided into 1 Otago Infantry Battalion and 2 Otago Infantry Battalion in March 1916. An additional battalion, 3 Otago Infantry Battalion, existed between March 1917 and February 1918. The regiment served on the Western Front from 1916 until 1918.

Cloth patches for the (l to r) 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Otago Infantry Regiment.

Cloth patches sewn on the backs of uniform jackets from October 1916 identified which unit – or part of a unit – an individual belonged to. These are the patches of the three Otago battalions serving on the Western Front. A fourth (reserve) battalion was based at Sling Camp in England.

Otago Infantry cloth patches

+2 votes
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Not in this particular case but I will definitely save that link for future research on other veterans! Thanks a lot Marion!
+2 votes
The 4th Infantry Brigade was disbanded during the War as part of the 1918 reforms. You can add the 3rd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment in addition to the existing category you have put for Walter
by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (197k points)
Thanks so much for creating the category (and all the other ones) Richard!

Related questions

+4 votes
2 answers
+5 votes
3 answers
92 views asked May 11, 2018 in The Tree House by Cheryl Skordahl G2G6 Pilot (220k points)
+8 votes
2 answers
120 views asked Jul 8, 2018 in The Tree House by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (550k points)
+7 votes
1 answer
140 views asked Jul 1, 2018 in Genealogy Help by Sarah Black G2G6 Mach 1 (11.3k points)
+5 votes
3 answers
+3 votes
1 answer
+24 votes
1 answer
+12 votes
2 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright