Force: Canterbury Infantry Battalion
In 1850 the widowed Elizabeth Giblin emigrated from England to Nelson with three of her adult sons and a daughter-in-law from Cambridgeshire. Two sons settled in Motueka (William and Daniel) and one, Frederick, in Stoke.
Frederick Giblin and his wife Mary Ann Martin had married in England and went on to have a family of five Josiah, Elizabeth, Frederick, Ann and David. They farmed and developed one of the largest orchards in Stoke. Frederick was a member of the committee which oversaw the building of St Barnabas Church and both he and Mary Ann are buried there.
David Giblin helped his father on the farm, before undertaking agricultural contract work with a team of horses. In 1890 he married Mary Phoebe Taylor and in 1895 they bought a property, much of which was planted in orchard. The Giblins raised a family of seven boys in Stoke.
All the boys attended Stoke School and five went on to Nelson College, where they were all members of the college cadets. In World War One the oldest four, Maurice, Guy, Wilfred and Louis, served with the New Zealand Forces. Only three of them returned home, two of them wounded. The three youngest Giblin boys were too young to go to war. They were Jeffrey (born 1898), Vernon (born 1901) and Alan (born 1903).
Wilfred Robert Giblin: born 17 September 1894, Stoke – Service No: 6/1538
Maurice Martin Giblin: born 29 August 1891, Stoke – Service No: 24360
Ernest Guy Giblin: born 10 December 1892, Stoke – Service No: 12032
Louis Herbert Giblin: born 15 September 1896, Stoke – Service No: 30934
Wilf Giblin was the first of his family to embark for war. He was part of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion which left New Zealand on 14 February. The ship arrived in Suez in Egypt on 26 March and the troops were transferred to Zeitoun. “Of all the horrible places this beats all,” he wrote to his mother on 5 April. “It is nothing but sand.”
The men were delayed six days before leaving on 17 April. As luck would have it, the delay meant Wilf’s ship did not arrive in time for the men to be part of the initial fateful landing at Gallipoli. Instead they arrived mid-afternoon of 25 April and watched the “fierce bombardment” from the safety of the ship until they could be landed on the evening of 2 May. Even then they came under heavy fire. Just three days later Wilfred left on a destroyer to go further along the peninsula to Cape Helles.
There on 8 May Wilf was “smashed up at 10.30am after crossing the ‘Daisy Patch’,” a piece of open meadow land. A bullet struck his left arm close to the shoulder, breaking and shattering the humerus bone. His diary recorded that he lay for three or four hours exposed to Turkish fire before another New Zealander was able to drag him into a dugout. After dark he was helped to a dressing station. Reaching there around midnight he was treated and returned to the Hospital Base at Cape Helles and loaded onto a hospital ship the next day, which returned him to Egypt. He wrote to his mother that it was “my luck to stop a bullet” during “pretty heavy fire”.
After six weeks Wilf went to a temporary hospital at Lunar Park, Heliopolis, where he spent a further six weeks. While he was there his arm required an operation and he was told he was going back to New Zealand. He left on board the ship "Tahiti" and arrived back in September. Wilf was taken straight to Wellington Hospital and then was transferred on 11 September to Nelson Hospital, where he celebrated his 21st birthday on 17 September.
He was discharged from the Army on 14 February.
After his release from the Army he worked for a while at the Stoke Orphanage and then for a Nelson tomato grower. In 1921 he married Kathleen Percival before settling on a property in Suffolk Road where they had an orchard and market garden. Wilf and Kathleen had two sons and a daughter.
In 1990 Wilf received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal in Recognition of Services at a special service for World War One veterans at Anzac Park. As the Nelson’s sole surviving Gallipoli veteran, he also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gallipoli and laid a remembrance wreath.
Wilf died on 30 June 1990 aged 95.