Donald Gilmour Dawson - New Zealand

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Otto, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. Otto

    Otto GröFaZ Admin

    I'm usually more active on the other side of the digital pond so to speak (at but this topic is more relevant here, so I'm dropping in. As of December 2016, I am now related by marriage (my Oz brother married a kiwi) to the WWII veteran New Zealander who's name is in the subject of the thread. He is still alive and kicking though I'm told his ability to recall the war years is greatly diminished. I'd like to research his background and retrieve what records I am able. The purpose of this effort is two-fold. First, I'm hoping to flesh out the family history. Second, I'm going to document the research process for others to follow.

    I've never researched a veteran from this nation, so my plan is to approaching this as a "black box" exercise, coming in cold and following a research path for a WWII veteran from New Zealand. My starting information is somewhat limited, but there should be enough to get going. I'm very happy to do all the digging, but I'd sincerely appreciate guidance of where to focus my efforts.

    So, what say you good members of WW2 talk? Where do I start? What is the best direction to go?

    Donald Gilmour Dawson (born 8 April 1919)
    Unconfirmed information:
    -ID # is 23114 (Clearly this is not a Army Number as I understand it, though they may have a different classification system in NZ vs the UK island proper)
    -earned an African Star w/ 5 Service Chevrons.-
    was a Drill Sergeant in Fiji (sent there from Papakura – training camp south of Auckland)
    -had a medical classification on 17.01.40, likely prior to departing for the front
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Apply to NZDF for his full service records.
    NZDF Personnel Archives holds the files of all those who served in New Zealand’s military forces from the 1st January 1921 to the present day.

    Enquiries about living former servicemen and women
    You can request a copy of your own service record by writing to us at NZDF Archives. Your request must be in writing and signed by you in order to validate the enquiry.

    If you are requesting details about another living person, information can be disclosed only if you have the signed and written authorisation of the individual concerned. NZDF Archives will not release information unless you can show us this authority.

    If you cannot do this because the person concerned is unable to provide this authorisation, then we will need to receive a signed request from the person who holds the relevant ‘Power of Attorney’. We also require a copy of the Power of Attorney documents for verification purposes.

    NZDF - Accessing Military Service Records

    Once you know what units he was in & when we can look for war diaries.
    CL1, Otto, 4jonboy and 1 other person like this.
  3. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    HI Otto

    Some more records here - War - Archives New Zealand. Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga - including maps, nominal rolls and war diaries.
    On Ancestry by the looks of things too-
    Name: Donald Gilmour Dawson
    Embarkation: 1940-1941
    Army Number: 23114
    Last Residence: Opotiki, New Zealand
    Relative Name: Mr G A Dawson
    Relationship: Father
    Nominal Roll: 1 Jul 1940 - 31 Mar 1941
    It does confirm his service number.

    Also for an idea of what medals he would have got - NZDF — Medals Home Page

    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
    CL1, Tricky Dicky, Otto and 1 other person like this.
  4. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member


    I concur with the two previous posters, get his service records and use them as a starting point.

    War diaries are available from Archives New Zealand unfortunately, they haven't been digitised but research services are available.

    A cheaper way to get an idea of Donald's war (once you find out his unit), the Official Histories on NZETC for each Battalion are worthwhile. New Zealand World War II History | NZETC

    Good luck!
  5. Otto

    Otto GröFaZ Admin

    Thanks for the direction. It's good to have my prior research confirmed by those who've traveled this ground before.

    I'll report back here when I get more information.
  6. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Hi Otto, never done much researching through NZ archives but here's a list of records available at findmypast. The Billion Graves might be useful for others researching. Electoral Rolls from 1911 and especially the 1925 collection might also help trace an individual. Just enter New Zealand to bring up their record sets.

    Edit: Records available at Ancestry

    Births 1840-1950, Marriages 1840-1934, deaths 1848-1964. Who's Who 1938, Notices of Deceased Estates 1880-1950, Electoral Rolls 1853-1981.

    WW2 Appointments, Promotions, Transfers & Resignations 39-45
    WW2 Ballot Lists 40-45
    WW2 Nominal Rolls 39-48

    If all else fails, the folks on Rootschat can be a great help. Link to their NZ page New Zealand - RootsChat.Com
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  7. Otto

    Otto GröFaZ Admin

    A query about NZ army/service numbers.

    Is there a guide to them somewhere? Google provides a slew of info around NZ military strengths, but not the service numbers. I'm looking for something similar to this, where a general idea of what blocks were allocated to a given group:
    British Army: Army Numbers - WWII Open Resource Group
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    If you know of someone with Ancestry worldwide (or NZ ) access then there is a set of databases there entitled:
    New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, 1939-1948
    New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, 1939-1948

    These may or may not provide some information about your man - I have not accessed them


    edited to add:
    Without paying for access this is as far as I can go:
    View Record Donald Gilmour Dawson year army number city
    View Record Donald Gilmour Dawson year army number city
  9. bofors

    bofors Senior Member

    Hi Otto

    I am not sure, but I don't think so. Australia did not have block allocations, each state used its first letter eg Q for Queensland the a set of numbers starting low and working up, ie Q123, and if you served overseas then it was QX12345 etc.
    Maybe contact-
    and see what they say.


  10. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    Hi Otto,

    While I'm not 100% sure, I have a feeling there isn't any pattern to service numbers, well at least they aren't associated with specific units.

    I should have mentioned in my earlier post that Papers Past is worth looking at too.
  11. Otto

    Otto GröFaZ Admin

  12. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    It is sad to hear of Donald's passing. Thoughts are with his family.
  13. Otto

    Otto GröFaZ Admin

    Some more info pieced together from old scraps of paper. Accuracy somewhat in question due to age, but worthy of review.

    27th (NZ Machine Gun) Battalion
    2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force
    POW in Stalag IV-D
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Otto likes this.
  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Dont know why I never looked this bit up before - must be something to do with alzmentia - what was that I said??

    For the record:
    D G Dawson in the UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: D G Dawson
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 23114
    POW Number: 229657
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 4D
    Camp Location: Torgau (Elbe), Germany
    Section: 2nd New Zealand Expy Force: Officers and Other Ranks

    Otto likes this.

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