(Service number 15/136; 15/120)
|First Rank||Sergeant||Last Rank||Sergeant|
|Date||18 June 1892||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||6 October 1914||Age||22 years|
|Address at Enlistment||York Street, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||2nd South Canterbury Regiment|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Julia MacDONALD (mother), York Street, Timaru. Later (IN 1920) J. W. Macdonald (brother), Assistant Public Trustee, Wellington.|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 175 lbs. Chest measurement 38-40½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||2nd Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Headquarters|
|Date||14 December 1914|
|Transport||Verdala or Willochra or Knight of the Garter|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Divisional Headquarters|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star, British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
16 August 1915 wounded in the knee at Gallipoli. 4 January 1916 dangerously ill at Military Hospital, Devonport. No hope of recovery.
|Date||5 January 1916||Age||24 years|
|Place of Death||Military Hospital, Devonport, United Kingdom, ex Gallipoli|
|Cause||Died of wounds (inflicted at Gallipoli, on 7 August 1915)|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Plymouth (Weston Mill) Cemetery, Devon, England. Timaru Cemetery - memorial on parents' headstone.|
|Memorial Reference||Con. C. 3737. Timaru Cemetery - General Section, Row 4, Plot 300.|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Waimataitai School War Memorial|
Gordon MacDonald, the son of James and Julia (née Lockwood) MacDonald, was born on 18 June 1892 at Timaru. He was educated at Timaru Main and Waimataitai Schools.
Gordon made his mark early at school, being awarded a certificate of merit, 1st class, when in Standard I in 1900 at Timaru Main School. He repeated his school success in Standard IV in 1903. Moving to Waimataitai in 1904, Gordon kept up his good work, being rewarded for writing in Standard V. At the Presbyterian Cullmanntown Sabbath School he received a prize in 1899 (a well bound volume “containing interesting accounts of travel, etc.”), and he gained a 2nd Class prize in 1902.
Gordon took a very keen interest in the welfare of Waimataitai School and gave a great deal of his time to helping the sports of the school. In December 1914, the headmaster thanked Gordon for the great assistance he had given. And at the 1914 prize-giving of Waimataitai School, Gordon presented a prize for the Most Improved Footballer. He was one of many ex-pupils who had gone or were on their way to the front and whose names appeared on the Waimataitai School “Roll of Honour” drawn up in August 1915. Gordon was also a prominent member of the Pirates football club, playing in the first fifteen, and was well known in athletics circles.
When he enlisted on 16 October 1914, Gordon was a clerk with Millar Bros, builders of Timaru. He had previously been a law clerk in the office of Messrs Tripp and Rolleston, but wanting a more outdoor life for the good of his health he had changed employers. He was already serving with the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment. He was living at home with his widowed mother, having never lived away from Timaru. He was young and fit, and had everything in life to look forward to.
Gordon Macdonald left New Zealand for Egypt on 14 December 1914, just after he was promoted to Sergeant. On 7 February 1915, ten days after reaching Egypt, he was attached to New Zealand Divisional Headquarters with the temporary rank and pay of sergeant. On 12 April 1915 Sergeant Macdonald embarked at Alexandria for the Dardanelles. There on 11 June 1915 he was admitted, ill, to the Base Hospital at Anzac and a month later he was transferred to the Convalescence Camp, before returning to action a few days later, only to be wounded at Gallipoli on 7 August. Soon after, on 16 August 1915, he was to disembark at Malta from the Hospital Ship “Gascon”, slightly wounded. But, it seems that the wounds were more severe than first reported. In a letter to his father, dated 30 August 1915, Private James Lynch mentions that Gordon McDonald arrived at Malta a few days after him, and that he (Gordon) had “got a bad crack down the shin bone with shrapnel and apart from that he is not too well and will probably be sent to England.”
On 13 September 1915 Gordon was admitted to the Military Hospital at Devonport, suffering from malarial fever in addition to his wounds. There, on 4 January 1916, Gordon was seriously ill; and it was recorded that there was no hope of recovery. He died at the hospital the following day, as a result of his wounds. His death was recorded in Casualty List No. 264, and the Defence Department forwarded information to the effect that a staff sergeant who had died of wounds in England was a Timaru man. Gordon had had a rough time, punctuated with illness and wounds. Yet in a letter written from the hospital to his mother shortly before his death he wrote in good spirits. He is buried in the Plymouth (Weston Mill) Cemetery, Devon, England, and there is a memorial on his parents’ headstone in the Timaru Cemetery.
On enlistment, Gordon’s mother was his next-of-kin. After her sudden death in July 1916, his brother John, the assistant Public Trustee in Wellington, became next-of-kin and was authorised to receive Gordon’s medals – the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Sergeant Gordon Macdonald is honoured on the Timaru War Memorial Wall and the Waimataitai School War Memorial. At the Waimataitai School committee meeting of 8 February 1916, the headmaster reported that the school had learnt of the death of Sergeant G. Macdonald with deep regret and the committee resolved to send a letter of condolence to his relatives. And in April his was one of twelve names of old boys of the school who had made the last great sacrifice.
His brother Malcolm also served in World War One. His sister and brothers remembered Gordon with love in an In Memoriam notice in 1917.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [22 December 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5544 0070353) [04 July 2014, 03 April 2016]; CWGC [31 January 2014]; Timaru Herald, 18 December 1899, 14 December 1900, 15 December 1902, 18 December 1903, 15 December 1904, 26 December 1908, 10 June 1909, 10 & 18 December 1914, 30 August 1915, 23 October 2015, 11 January 1916, 13 January 1916 (x 2), 9 February 1916, 14 April 1916, 31 July 1916, 5 January 1917, New Zealand Herald, 2 September 1915, Otago Witness, 15 September 1915, Press, 13 January 1916 [x 2], Auckland Star, 13 January 1916 (Papers Past) [01 February 2014; 27, 28 & 30 October 2015, 16 January 2016; 03 April 2016; 10 May 2017]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [31 January 2014]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [28 October 2015]
- MacDONALD Gordon - newspaper clippings 1915-1916 (pdf, 33.7 KB updated 01-Sep-2016)
- Great War Story - Timaru Herald 8 Oct 2016 - Gordon MacDonald (pdf, 363.4 KB updated 26-Oct-2016)
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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