Herbert Myer Goldstein was born in November 1877 in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. He was the eldest son of Samuel Aaron Goldstein and Eva Phillips.1 In 1880, his father was appointed Rabbi of Auckland and arrived in New Zealand with his wife and son in December that year.2 The family lived at 6 Waterloo Quadrant, now part of the Pullman Hotel site, near the synagogue on the corner of Bowen and Princes Streets.3 A second son, Henry Vivian Goldstein, was born in 1881.4
Goldstein studied Chemistry, Physics and Biology at Auckland University College (AUC) in 1895.5 In April 1895, the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board granted Goldstein access to the hospital as a medical student and in December he left New Zealand to further his medical studies in London.6 Goldstein passed the London University matriculation exam in June 1896 and completed his Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and was awarded MRCS (Eng) and LRCP (Lond) in 1903.7 During his training, Goldstein worked at Guy’s Hospital, Southwark and boarded nearby with fellow New Zealander Richard William Allen, with whom he had attended AUC.8
In April 1905, Goldstein’s brother Henry, who had also recently completed his medical training, died of influenza aged 23 at Crook, near Newcastle-on-Tyne. On receiving news of his younger son’s death, Rabbi Goldstein immediately `cabled for the return of his elder son’.9 Goldstein left England in May and returned to New Zealand where he worked as a house surgeon at Auckland Hospital.10 In 1908, Goldstein was appointed secretary of the local branch of the British Medical Association and in 1909 secretary of the Auckland Hospital Medical Committee.11
‘Captain Goldstein was particularly well spoken of by the officers and men of his battalion. His position as regimental medical officer is about as dangerous a position as any man can fill … they are right in the thick of it, and… have all the hardships of a soldier in the front line.’
Regimental Medical Officer
Goldstein enlisted for military service with the New Zealand Medical Corps in July 1915, aged 37.12 In September, he was assigned to the Red Cross train caring for wounded returning from the Gallipoli campaign as they made their way between Wellington, where they had landed, and their home towns further north.13 In October, Captain Goldstein embarked on the HMT Tahiti, arriving in Egypt in November 1915. After further military training, Goldstein left Egypt for the Western Front in April 1916 with the 2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance. Goldstein served with the 2nd New Zealand Field Ambulance until early 1918, but for the majority of this period was attached to the 2nd Battalion Wellington Infantry Regiment (WIR) as their Regimental Medical Officer (RMO).14
As RMO, Goldstein was responsible for the everyday health of the men of the 2nd Battalion WIR, treating minor injuries and ailments and managing hygiene and sanitation, including the unit’s water supply.15 When the unit went into battle, he was in charge of the Regimental Aid Post (RAP), ideally located just behind the frontline. Here, Goldstein and his assistants would assess and patch up the wounded and either return them to the frontline or evacuate them to an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) for further treatment.16 If morphine was administered, or a tourniquet applied at the RAP, standard procedure was to mark the wounded soldier’s forehead with an `M’ or `T’. Other details were written on a tag similar to a luggage label and securely attached to the soldier’s uniform.17 In an account of fighting at Messines in June 1917, Goldstein describes how he ‘fixed the aid post under the side of a road over which the shells hurtled’ and after an hour or two of digging, created ‘a nice hole in which to put the wounded if they had to wait for bearers’.18
Goldstein was awarded a Military Cross in August 1917 for his actions during fierce fighting at La Basse Ville, near Warneton, Belgium at the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres.19 The 2nd Battalion WIR captured the small hamlet of La Basse Ville early on the morning of 27 July 1917 but later in the day the unit was overwhelmed by a company of the 16th Bavarian Division.20 During a successful counter-attack on the morning of 31 July, Goldstein established an improvised dressing station more than a mile in front of his Regimental Aid Post. Despite heavy enemy shelling, Goldstein remained at the dressing station attending the wounded. As a result, all casualties were evacuated before his unit was relieved in the evening by the 1st Battalion WIR.21
In February 1918, Goldstein became seriously ill with quinsy, a rare complication of tonsillitis. He was hospitalised and evacuated to England where he spent further time in hospital and a month convalescing in Brighton.22 Returning to duty in April, Goldstein was attached to the 2nd New Zealand General Hospital at Walton on Thames. In August, he returned to France where he was given command of a section of the 3rd New Zealand Field Ambulance and promoted to the rank of Major.23
After the war, Goldstein remained in London and undertook further medical training at the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, Moorfields and worked as a house surgeon at the Central London Ophthalmic Hospital.24 He returned to Auckland in July 1920 where he worked as an ophthalmologist and a visiting staff member at Auckland Hospital until his retirement in 1948.25
During the 1920s-30s, Goldstein was an active member of the New Zealand Territorial Forces and, despite his age, applied to serve overseas during the Second World War.26 From the mid-1930s, Goldstein lived at the Northern Club on Princes St opposite the synagogue where his father was Rabbi for more than 50 years and not far from his childhood home.27 Goldstein died in September 1954, aged 76, and is buried in the Hebrew section of the Waikumete Cemetery.28
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections
- Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922, accessed via Ancestry.com.
- New Zealand Herald, 16 December 1880, p.4, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 19 August 1881, p.4, accessed via Papers Past; New Zealand, Who's Who in New Zealand and the Western Pacific, 1925, p.86, accessed via Ancestry.com. Until 1886, the Synagogue was located in Emily Place.
- New Zealand Herald, 12 August 1881, p.4, accessed via Papers Past.
- Auckland Star, 28 November 1895, pg.7, accessed via Papers Past; New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922, accessed via Ancestry.com.
- Auckland Star, 2 April 1895, p.1, accessed via Papers Past; Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, 1896, pp.26-34.
- New Zealand Herald, 22 July 1896, p.6; Auckland Star, 5 June 1903 p.2, accessed via Papers Past.
- 1901 England Census, accessed via Ancestry.com.
- New Zealand Herald, 14 April 1905, p.5, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 19 May 1905, p.6; Auckland Star, 26 October 1905, p.2, accessed via Papers Past.
- Leonard Bell and Diana Morrow (eds), Jewish lives in New Zealand – a history, Auckland, 2012, p.294.
- `Goldstein, Herbert Myer - WW1 3/1115 – Army’, R16786969, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- New Zealand Herald, 13 September 1915, p.4, accessed via Papers Past.
- `Goldstein, Herbert Myer - WW1 3/1115 – Army’, R24098060, Archives New Zealand, Wellington.
- `The chain of evacuation of the Royal Army Medical Corps’, RAMC in the Great War, accessed 26 June 2017.
- Ian McGibbon, `First World War - Western Front, 1916 to 1917', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, accessed 5 July 2017.
- `The chain of evacuation of the Royal Army Medical Corps’.
- Auckland Grammar School Chronicle, V, 2, third term 1917, p.37.
- `Goldstein, Herbert Myer - WW1 3/1115 – Army’, R16786969.
- W. H. Cunningham, C. A. L. Treadwell and J. S. Hanna, The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 – 1919, Wellington, 1928, pp.188-201; A.D. Carbery, The New Zealand medical service in the Great War, 1914-1918: based on official documents, Auckland, 1924, pp.322-323.
- Cunningham, Treadwell, Hanna, p.201.
- `Goldstein, Herbert Myer - WW1 3/1115 – Army’, R24098060.
- New Zealand Herald, 31 December 1919, p.8, accessed via Papers Past.
- Auckland Star, 14 July 1920, p.7, accessed via Papers Past; Bell and Morrow, p.29; ‘Obituary’, New Zealand Medical Journal, 53 (1954), p.534.
- `Goldstein, Herbert Myer - WW1 3/1115 – Army’, R24098060.
- New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981, accessed via Ancestry.com.
- New Zealand Cemetery Records, 1800-2007, accessed via Ancestry.com.