Australian Expeditionary Force
Died 25th April 1918 age
Pte. George Gordon – Aus. Ex. Force
George Gordon was born on 17 February 1888 at Pitmedden, Torphins, son of John Gordon, Farmer and Georgina Ingram, who had married at Oldmachar Aberdeen in 1878. The family appears in the 1891 census living at Pitmedden Farm, Craigmyle. John Gordon is said to have been born in the parish, and his wife came from Banffshire. In 1891 there were six children, of whom George was the second youngest, and John’s mother Mary and two servants lived with them. By 1901 George had two more brothers William and Robert then aged 8 and 6.
Gordon sailed for Australia from London on board the “Durham” on 27 June 1911, as one of a large gang of “railway workers” which included William Bews (see above) who was also to become a casualty of the war. They were born only weeks apart and it seems likely that at the very least they knew one another. Work was about to begin on the construction of the trans-continental Australian railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and it may be that labour was being imported for that purpose.
Gordon gave the name of his mother, still residing at Pitmedden, as his next of kin on enlistment, as a volunteer, at Mount Gambier South Australia on 6 March 1916. The enlistment papers give his occupation as “Farm labourer” and he was then 27 years old. He was appointed to B Company 2nd Depot Battalion, then 50th Battalion of the A.I.F. and shipped to Tel-el-kebir, possibly for training. From there he was transferred to Alexandria, then embarked in early June 1916 on the “Arcadian” bound for Marseilles where his unit were to join the British Expeditionary Force. After about six weeks in France, Gordon spent a short time in hospital suffering from gastro-enteritis, but rejoined his unit at the beginning of September 1916. On 30 March the following year he took sick again with a case of “S.T.A. Foot” (Trench Foot perhaps?) which kept him out of action until 20 April. Then on 10 June 1917 he suffered a gunshot wound to the hip and was out of action for about a month. He rejoined the battalion on about 26 July.
On 24 April 1918 German forces captured the village of Villers-Bretonneux in Picardy. It was recaptured in the course of that evening and the following day by Australians of the 4th and 5th Divisions of the First Australian Imperial Force, including the 50th Battalion at the cost of massive Australian casualties. Gordon was one of them. He died on 25 April 1918, less than four months after his brother Robert (see below). A note in Gordon’s service record states “Owing to the severity of action the body was not recovered by this Battalion”, but a separate note reads “Buried 500 yds S. of Villers-Bretonneux”.