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WW1 Private Benjamin Francis Dive (551)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Benjamin Francis Dive (551) was born in Havelock, New Zealand in 1886, the son of William Evans Dive and Annie Dive, subsequently living in 23 Arney Road, Remuera, Auckland. He was one of eight children, and of the six brothers, four served in World War I; William Evans Dive (also joined AIF) (6790); Gilbert Henry Dive, DSO (Royal Army Medical Corps); and Ernest Dive (25483) [1] 

Benjamin attended Wanganui Collegiate School. After leaving school, he spent two years studying agriculture at Lincoln College, and shortly after left for Argentina and later Australia, where he began sheep-farming as a grazier in Queensland. 

Benjamin enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces on 16 June 1916 at age 32 and embarked from Melbourne, 23 December 1916 on the vessel ‘Orontes’ arriving in Plymouth, England, on 17 February 1917 as a Private with the 12th Machine Gun Company, 9th Reinforcements, of the Australian Imperial Force. After disembarking, he was sent for training to No 6 and 7 Camp, Perham Downs, Wiltshire, England. At that time, Perham Downs on the Salisbury Plains was established as Australia’s No.1 Command Depot accommodating up to 4,000 men, in wooden huts, where men were trained for combat and to toughen up after convalescence prior to being sent back to the front. [2] 

Benjamin had machine gun training, at the Machine Gun Training Depot, in Grantham, Lincolnshire on 24 February 1917. He was sent overseas to Carniers, France on the 24 April 1917 to the Australian Machine Gun Base Depot, as a Private in the 4th Battalion of the Machine Gun Company of the Australian Imperial Force, where he fought on the Western Front. He had leave in England from 29 January 1918 to 16 February 1918, after which he re-joined his unit.

On 1st October 1918, he was granted leave went to Paris re-joining his unit a few days later. Being unwell Benjamin was admitted to No 11 Stationary Military Hospital, Rouen, on 18 October 1918 suffering from broncho-pneumonia where sadly he fell victim to influenza and died on 25 October 1918 of the disease, aged 32. 

His obituary from Wanganui Collegiate School said: “While at the front he took part in every possible action, coming through unharmed till the end of the war, when he had the ill-luck to contract the dreaded disease." [3] He is buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France S. II. KK. 11. There is also a memorial to him at Lincoln College, Christchurch. 

References 

1. Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/C35219?n=dive%2C%20benjamin&ordinal=1&from=%2Fwar-memorial%2Fonline-cenotaph%2Fsearch 

2. Following the twenty-second: the first world war through the lives of the Australian Infantry Battalion https://anzac-22nd-battalion.com/training-camps-england/ 

3. In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School]  

Image References 

1. Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/C35219?n=dive%2C%20benjamin&ordinal=1&from=%2Fwar-memorial%2Fonline-cenotaph%2Fsearch 

2. Benjamin Dive. Lone Pine Memorial. N Z Wargraves.

 GDR