Force: NZ Field Artillery
Roy Albert Ricketts was born on 29 July 1893. He was the son of Charles Albert and Jane (nee Stains), who came from a Riwaka family. Charles and Jane had a family of five children, Hilda, the eldest, Stella, Roy, Eunice, and Darcy, the youngest. The family lived at Beachville Road, in Nelson. Hilda married Neal Prussing, Stella married Charlie Woodward, Eunice remained single and cared for Jane Ricketts in her old age.
Roy attended Nelson College for Boys from 1907 to 1909. He became a fitter and turner and worked for J. Wylie in Waimea Street, now named Rutherford Street. He had prior military experience in the territorial forces in H Battery. His religion is entered as Anglican on his attestation form.
Roy enlisted at the rank of Gunner (service number 2/1665) on 18 April, with the Field Artillery, in the Canterbury Military district and embarked on 13 June as part of the 5th Reinforcements.
He embarked for the Dardanelles 21 September. Roya, his daughter, recalls that an experience at Gallipoli was the only story his father would tell of his war years. He told her that he was amongst the last few Anzac troops to leave, when the troops withdrew from Gallipoli in December. He was a gunner and they were defending the evacuation. He looked out and saw all the ships had departed. ‘Well that’s that’, he thought, then around the corner of the bay came a few little ships and they were brought safely off.
Roy disembarked at Alexandria 3 January and was in camp at Moascar, Egypt. He was promoted to Bombardier in February and transferred to 15th battery in March. His unit embarked for France, from Alexandria, on 5 April.
On the Western Front he was wounded in the field by shrapnel to his back and leg and was hospitalized at 3rd General Hospital in October. He was discharged to camp at Etaples 24 October. By 20 December he had rejoined his unit in the field.
In September Roy went on leave to the United Kingdom and on his return was promoted to Corporal.
During 1918 he was further promoted to Sergeant by April and was again on leave in the United Kingdom in October.
Roy served a total of 3 years and 362 days.
Roy's final discharge was on 13 April 1919.
He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the Military Service Medal. The Military medal was awarded for recognition of valuable services rendered with the armies in France and Flanders
While overseas Roy had mailed back, in 1915, two scarves from Egypt for his sister Stella and Christmas cards made from the cardboard section of shell casings. He made a model of a naval gun and of a Howitzer gun. Roy's family have photographs of him with his cousins, Charles Nelson and Hubert James, in uniform.
The Nelson Provincial Museum has been fortunate to be able to exhibit some of these objects and images and is pleased to have some of them included in the collection. The family has lent the Museum his war diary covering his voyage from New Zealand which has been transcribed.