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Full Name: William Nicol Carson
Rank Last Held: Major
Forename(s): William Nicol
Surname: Carson
Also Known As: Bill Carson
War: World War II, 1939-1945
Serial No.: 22923
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: 16 July 1916
Place of Birth: New Zealand
First Known Rank: Second Lieutenant
Occupation before Enlistment: Warehouseman
Next of Kin: Mrs W.M. Carson (wife), 82 Clonbern Road, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand
Marital Status: Married
Enlistment Address: 54 View Road, Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand
Military District: Auckland
Body on Embarkation: Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF)
Embarkation Unit: Artillery Reinforcements
Embarkation Date: 27 August 1940
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Destination: Egypt
Nominal Roll Number: WW2 3
Page on Nominal Roll: WW2 75
Campaigns:
  • Crete
  • North Africa
  • Italy
Military Awards:
  • Military Cross (MC)
  • Mentioned in Despatches (MiD)
Last Unit Served: New Zealand Artillery, 5Field Regiment
Place of Death: Egypt
Date of Death: 8 October 1944
Age at Death: 28
Year of Death: 1944
Cause of Death: Died of wounds
Cemetery Name: Heliopolis War Cemetery, Egypt
Grave Reference: 4.A.16.
Memorial Name:
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories
  • Auckland Domain, an Olive Tree (Olea europaea) planted close to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the grounds of the Auckland Domain commemorates those who fought on Crete in 1941.
Biographical Notes:
  • William Carson was the son of Alexander John and Mabel Alice Carson and husband of Marie Patricia Carson, of Remuera, Auckland.
  • All Black in 1938
  • Captain John Rutherfurd has written the following tribute to William Carson. 'Bill Carson was a very special friend of mine. We entered camp together in February 1940. He was a double New Zealand representative - All Black and cricket. He had a very distinguished military career, especially in Crete. He was highly respected and very popular.'
  • Major Carson was wounded on 29 July 1944 at San Michele, south of Florence. He was evacuated but died as a result of his wounds and sickness in October. Carson was taking the newly-appointed commander of F Troop forward to the Observation Post when a shell struck the scout car and killed Lieutenant Graves and Gunner I.H. Henry. (Murphy, W. (1966), p. 623-4)
  • In W.E. Murphy's account of 2nd Divisional Artillery he records that Bill Carson was a stalwart of the New Zealand Artillery from the earliest days. His actions in Crete are particularly notable.
  • Lieutenant Carson had charge of a thirty man patrol from Reserve Motor Transport at Galatas. In the area around Cemetery Hill, Wheat Hill and Pink Hill Carson was particularly active with his patrol. On 22 May an incident occurred when Carson and his patrol were moving round to Wheat Hill to counter-attack the enemy. 'There was a beautiful opening for Carson, and I was waiting for him to line his men up before giving him the order to charge, when a most infernal uproar broke out across the valley. Over an open space in the trees near Galatos came running, bounding and yelling like Red Indians, about a hundred Greeks and villagers including women and children, led by Michael Forrester twenty yards ahead. It was too much for the Germans. They turned and ran without hesitation, and we went back to our original positions.'
  • As the days went by and more pressure was brought to bear Carson's patrol faced increasingly difficult situations. On 25 May for example in trying to hold Pink Hill his patrol moved forward to help stiffen the line. An attack by thirty Stukas weakened the right flank and Carson took his patrol and they stayed in spite of attacks of increasing intensity. The message that 18 Battalion had withdrawn did not reach them because the runner sent to warn them of the retirement was killed on the way. This action at Wheat Hill (in co-operation with Captain Nolan's two platoons of gunners) meant that most of the troops involved were able to make their way back safely through Galatas.
  • Re-grouping after this fighting Lieutenant-Colonel Gray formed up the survivors of his battalion on the eastern edge of the village. They were joined by other soldiers and instructed to clear the village with bayonets in spite of the fact that the Germans seemed to have machine guns and mortars everywhere. William Carson is reported to have had a broad grin and to have committed himself to the ongoing battle (Davin, D. (1953), p. 312).
Description of Image:
  • Portrait, WW2, Major Carson in the desert, holding his issue of tropical kit, was taken at Maadi Camp, Cairo in late 1940. (supplied by Captain Rutherfurd)
  • Group, WW2, 4 soldiers relaxing in club, Cairo: Carson 1941 at the club in Cairo seated left. Others in the photo are J.S. Rutherfurd, Max Hill and J.R. Tipping. (supplied by Captain Rutherfurd)
  • Portrait, Weekly News. Died of wounds
  • Headstone, HeliopolisWar Cemetery, Egypt (photo B. Coutts, 2009)
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories Name panel
  • Hall of Memories, World War 2, Auckland War Memorial Museum, April 1999, view 1
  • Hall of Memories, World War 2, Auckland War Memorial Museum, April 1999, view 2
Additional Information: Initials W.M. given for next of kin, his wife, on the Nominal Roll.
Further References:
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