Robert Arthur Hislop is considered to be the first New Zealand casualty of World War I.

At the age of 21, he died from critical injuries occurring from a fall off the Parnell rail bridge on the evening of the 13th of August, 1914. This was eight days after New Zealand supported Britain and declared war against the German Empire.  Six days later, he sadly passed away (Stone, 2014).

Hislop was a member of the Territorials and the New Zealand Corps of Railway Engineers.

He was buried with full military honours, in Waikumete Cemetery, Glen Eden, Auckland (Stone, 2014).

Up until mid 2014, Robert Hislop wasn't recognised as a casualty of the First World War due to the manner of his death. Consequently, his grave wasn't considered an official military grave eligible for care by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.  

The grave was found in a dilapidated state in 2014 by Sarndra Lees. Her research and a media campaign brought the story to the attention of Lieutenant-General Tim Keating, Chief of Defence Force, who then ordered that Robert Hislop be added to the roll of honour for New Zealand WW1 casualities. Consequently, Hislop's grave was listed as an official war grave. It was refurbished in 2014 by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. For more information, see Lees' post about the project here.

Photos of Robert Hislop,  his funeral procession and refurbished grave, can be also found here, at the Online Cenotaph website.

Works Cited

Stone, A. (2014) Gravestone of our first WWI casualty erased by time - national - NZ herald news. Available at: (Accessed: 22 May 2016).

"In memory of Sapper Robert Hislop No 2 Company North Island Railway Battalion NZ Engineers the first NZ soldier to give his life during the Great War accidentally killed while on duty guarding the Parnell bridge."

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