SMITH, George Joseph Enzie
(Service number 12274)
|First Rank||Lance Corporal||Last Rank||Lance Corporal|
|Date||29 April 1894||Place of Birth||Seadown, Timaru|
|Date||12 January 1916||Age||21 years 8 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Orakipaoa, Temuka|
|Previous Military Experience||D Company 2nd South Canterbury Regiment|
|Next of Kin||G. B. SMITH (father), Temuka|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 127 lbs. Chest measurement 32-36¼ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Eyes both 5/10. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth - upper jaw artificial; lower jaw good. Had had diptheria. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. Slightly flat foot, but not sufficient to cause rejection. No fits.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||3rd Reinforcements to 3rd Battalion, G Company|
|Date||6 May 1916|
|Transport||Mokoia or Navua|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Infantry|
|Service Medals||British War 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
June 1916 - admitted to Colombo Hospital, with double pneumonia
|Date||4 June 1916||Age||22 years|
|Place of Death||Colombo Military Hospital, Colombo, en route to Egypt|
|Cause||Died of disease - double pneumonia|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 8 June 1916|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Colombo (Kanatte) General Cemetery, Sri Lanka. Timaru Cemetery (memorial on parents' headstone).|
|Memorial Reference||R.C. I. I. 3. Temuka - General Section, Row 223, Plot 171|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Temuka RSA Roll of Honour; Temuka War Memorial; St Joseph's Church, Temuka|
George Joseph Enzie Smith was the second son of George Burnside and Mary (nėe McPeak) Smith, of Orakipaoa, Temuka, and later of Ormsby Street, Temuka, South Canterbury. His father George had come from Scotland in 1876 and married Mary McPeak in 1886. After some time managing farms, he acquired his own property on the Levels Estate. Born on 29 April 1894 at Seadown, near Timaru, young George was baptised on 21 May 1894 in the Timaru Catholic Parish. George junior was educated at Orton, Clandeboye and Cave schools.
Prior to enlistment George (junior) was employed in the Mackenzie Country on several sheep stations, and also with the Mackenzie County Council. Standing 5 feet 7½ inches tall and weighing 127 pounds, he was in good health, although his eyesight was defective and he was slightly flat footed. He had already served in the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment. Having enlisted in January 1916, at Featherston Camp George was appointed temporarily to the rank of lance-corporal with G company of the 12th Reinforcements. He was part of the march over the Rimutaka Hill on 13 April. The soldiers sang to the accompaniment of the Twelfth Reinforcements Band. The trip was described as “a windy, gusty one, with dust blowing and the men holding on to their hats at many of the corners of the road. Yet it was accomplished in good time.” The troops then went into bivouac in the scrub near Featherston Camp and “were astir early next morning.” On reaching the summit they were given refreshments by members of the Wairarapa Patriotic Society. After another stop for lunch and bathing, and one or two more days of marching, they would have reached Trentham.
George embarked with the Rifle Brigade at Wellington on 6 May, his destination being Egypt. But George died on active service while en route on 4 June 1916, just one month after embarking and before reaching his destination. His father had just finished reading a letter from George when the telegram announcing his death arrived. Later information from the commander of troops in Ceylon was relayed to his father with details of his death and burial. George died from double pneumonia on 4 June 1916 in the Military Hospital, Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He was buried the next day with full military honours and a party of his late comrades from the transport was in attendance.
22-year old George Joseph Enzie Smith was buried at Borella Cemetery, Colombo. His name is inscribed on the headstone of his parents and two brothers in the Temuka Cemetery. He is remembered on the Timaru Memorial wall, the Temuka RSA Roll of Honour, the Temuka War Memorial and in St Joseph's Church, Temuka. The Temuka Leader prefaced its Roll of Honour with these words – “A sacrifice is made by every man who enlists and goes to the front. . . . . . Some men are struck down with disease or sickness. They, too, have taken their share in this terrible war.” The St Joseph’s, Temuka, monument – to the memory of those who had fallen in the war - was unveiled after a 9am service on Anzac Day 1922. During the service appropriate music was rendered by the choir and an excellent address was given by the Rev. Dr. Kennedy. “The monument is an exceedingly beautiful one, and the rev. gentleman who unveiled it mentioned that it had cost £100.” (Temuka Leader, 26 April 1922) When Requiem Mass was celebrated on Anzac Day 1927 a very stirring sermon was preached – “The light of immortality that flashed from the abandoned tomb of the Risen Christ lingers on every mound of Flanders mud and clay, the gullies of Gallipoli, the sands of Palestine and Egypt, on the quiet churchyards in English villages and on God’s acres in New Zealand. It gilds the crests of the fretful waves of the seven seas that croon a dirge for our dead.”
A few months later the Temuka Borough memorial was unveiled before a very large gathering in the domain, including Temuka Territorials and Cadets, Temuka and Geraldine returned soldiers, the Temuka Pipe Band, the Salvation Army Band, the children of the district schools, national and local dignitaries, and local folk. Opening proceedings, the Mayor said “We regret that this occasion has arisen, but having done so we must look back with pride at the actions of those who rose to the call of the Motherland, which was in peril. Many of those brave boys who left these shores did not return, and we have erected this memorial to their memory, . . . “ Following hymns and scripture readings, His Excellency the Governor-General formally unveiled the monument and the local M.P. read out the names inscribed thereon.
George's medal (the British War Medal), plaque, and scroll were sent to his father. His brother William James Tayler Smith also served in World War One. Their eldest brother Charles Hay Smith, was also called up but not required to serve.
George had written to his sister (Euphemia Mary, later Mrs Cunnard) on 5 April 1916 from Featherston. He writes “We will be called on some of these fine days to make a will and to say who we are leaving the farms to that we have . . . We draw 2/- a day after we get on the boat and I shall send the other 3/- a day to you in my will and you can put some in my Banking account and have some for yourself and if you don’t see me again you can have all of it. The life Insurance will go to Mum & Dad that will amount to £150-0-0 Stg.” The Public Trustee deemed this to be the last will of George which he had executed while he was in actual military service. The Public Trustee, therefore, administered the estate which amounted to £175.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives ref. AABK 18805 W5553 0106434) [29 August 2014]; CWGC [09 October 2013]; Evening Post, 13 April 1916, Dominion, 14 April 1916, Timaru Herald, 8, 9 & 20 June 1916, Star, 8 June 1916, Evening Star, 8 June 1916, Evening Post, 8 June 1916, Temuka Leader, 6 January 1917 [x 2], 1 December 1921, 26 April 1922, 12 August 1922, 26 April 1927 (Papers Past) [24 April 2014; 04 January 2016; 03. 04, 15 & 17 July 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) ; Probate Record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [04 January 2016]; Baprism Index (Roman Catholic Diocese of Christchurch CD held by South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [10 January 2016]
- Great War Stories - George Joseph Enzie SMITH - Timaru Herald 23 September 2017 (pdf, 71.9 KB updated 21-Sep-2017)
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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