LOWE, George Grigg
(Service number 10/703)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Sergeant Instructor|
|Date||18 April 1890||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||17 August 1914||Age||24 years 4 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Stratford, Taranaki|
|Occupation||Draughtsman (Public Works Dept)|
|Previous Military Experience||Rifle Club (still serving)|
|Next of Kin||A. E. LOWE (father), Tai Tapu, Canterbury|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 11¼ inches. Weight 152 lbs. Chest measurement 32-36½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes hazel. Hair brown. Sight - right eye 6/6, left eye 6/9. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth efficient. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. Mole right shoulder.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||Main Body|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Wellington Infantry Battalion|
|Date||16 October 1914|
|Transport||Limerick or Arawa|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Campaigns||Egyptian; Balkan (Gallipoli); Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European|
|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|
|Date||11 December 1918||Reason|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
26 April 1915 wounded at Gallipoli - scalp wound; made good recovery. June 1915 in hospital at Cairo. 21 September 1915 admitted to 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital at Mudros. 12 December 1915 admitted to Hospital Ship "Oxfordshire" at Anzac Cove - scabies. 15 December 1915 admitted to Convalescent Depot at Mustapha - mumps. 3 August 1916 admitted to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station - gunshot wound to leg; 14 August to 2nd London General Hospital at Chelsea. .
|Date||17 January 1956||Age||65 years|
|Place of Death||Wellington|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Karori Crematorium, Wellington|
|New Zealand Memorials|
George Grigg Lowe, the youngest son of Alfred Ernest Lowe and his second wife, Elizabeth Maria née Strong, of Tai Tapu, Christchurch, was born on 18 April 1890 at Timaru. Alfred’s first wife had died just a year after their marriage. John Charles Lowe, the second son, died at 9 weeks of age and was buried at Timaru with Alfred’s first wife. George was educated at Waimataitai School, where his father served on the committee, until the family moved in 1896 to Tai Tapu where he attended the local school. At Tai Tapu School, he met with success, winning a Standard III prize in 1900 and a Standard IV prize in 1901. After three years at West Christchurch District High School, he left to join the Valuation Department in Wellington. George passed the examination with credit for senior free places in the Civil Service, in 1908. Fifty West Christchurch District High School students enjoyed such phenomenal success in the various examinations that the school was given a half holiday. George was placed 48 out of 585 candidates nationally, and was appointed a cadet in the Valuation Department.
Mr Alfred Lowe had been active in the Timaru Floral Society for some years. When he resigned from the committee in 1892, the secretary was to ask him to reconsider. In 1894 Mr Lowe was chosen for a committee to look into the beautification and improvement of the Caroline Bay surrounds. As gardener to the late Mr LeCren, he won the Blythe Memorial Cup at the Christchurch Chrysanthemum Show in 1895, a “handsome piece of silversmith’s work” that was to go on show in a shop window. Later in the same year he judged all the exhibits at the Canterbury Rose Society’s first annual show. At the farewell presentation by the Timaru Floral Society and the Chrysanthemum Club, in May 1896, the wish was “Health, prosperity, and long life to Mr Lowe and family in the future”. Mr Lowe was an “enthusiast in producing the very finest products of horticulture and floriculture”, who had always endeavoured to produce the finest specimens of blooms and flowers. Mr Lowe would be missed also from the Timaru Chess Club. George’s father, Alfred, who had managed the Craighead property of Mr H. L. LeCren in Timaru, was a gardener to the notable Canterbury pioneer, Sir Heaton Rhodes, at his beautiful gardens at Otahuna, Tai Tapu, an authority on matters horticultural, and a notable grower of chrysanthemums and daffodils, in particular. The sale of bulbs raised by Alfred Ernest Lowe funded the building of the little stone library at Tai Tapu on land donated by Rhodes.
Come August 1914, war had been declared and New Zealand was assembling troops for the front. George Grigg Lowe, a draughtsman for the Public works at Stratford, Taranaki, enlisted at New Plymouth on 17 August 1914, aged 24 years 4 months. He was posted to the Wellington Infantry Battalion. Single and Anglican, he nominated as next-of-kin his father, A. E. Lowe, Tai Tapu, Canterbury. He stood at 5 feet 11¼ inches, weighed 152 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 32-36½ inches. Of dark complexion, he had hazel eyes and brown hair. His sight was fairly good, his hearing and colour vision were normal as were his heart and lungs, his limbs and chest were well formed, and his teeth were efficient. He was free of any diseases or defects, vaccinated and in good bodily and mental health. He was already serving with the Rifle Club, belonging to the Pohokura Rifle Club. He joined the personnel of the Wellington Military District’s quota to the main Expeditionary Force, and went into camp at Awapuni. Private George Grigg Lowe embarked with the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the Main Body on 16 October 1914, leaving from Wellington for Suez, Egypt.
On 12 April 1915 he embarked at Alexandria for the Dardanelles. In early May 1915, the name of Private G. G. Lowe, 10/703, appeared on the High Commissioner’s report of the wounded. He was suffering from a scalp wound received on 26 April at the Dardanelles, Gallipoli. Fortunately he made a good, quick recovery. George wrote in a letter dated Alexandria, 30 April, to his parents that the wounds were caused by an explosive bullet striking his rifle, the fragments causing flesh wounds in his forehead and scalp. By that date he was again quite fit and had been passed for immediate return to the front, “to which he was looking forward”. Embarking for the Dardanelles again on 23 May, he rejoined his company and was made a corporal. After time in hospital at Cairo in June 1915, he again rejoined his Battalion at the Dardanelles in August following, only to be admitted to the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital on 21 September at Mudros. There, on 1 October he was promoted to Corporal. Scabies resulted in admission to the Hospital Ship “Oxfordshire” at Anzac Cove on 12 December. Just three days later, it was mumps which brought about admission to the Convalescent Depot at Mustapha. Attached to Strength at the end of the year, he rejoined his Battalion on 17 January 1916 at Ismailia.
He was appointed Lance Sergeant in March 1916, and temporary appointments to the rank of Sergeant followed. On 6 April 1916 he left Egypt for France. George Lowe was on leave in London at the time his brother Ernest Lowe, serving with the Canadian Forces, was killed in action (13 May 1916). On 3 August 1916, when he was acting-sergeant, George G. Lowe was again wounded in action. Having suffered a gunshot wound to his leg, he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station, and on 14 August conveyed by hospital ship to the 2nd London General Hospital at Chelsea. The wound was slight and his progress favourable. He was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch on 22 November. He left Hornchurch on furlough and was to report to Codford the following month. It was July 1917 when he was again attached to Strength from Sling.
A newspaper correspondent wrote, in October 1916, about the men who had left the Public Works Department staff engaged on the Opunake railway work, to volunteer. He added: “These men have left the survey party of the Te Roti-Gpunake-Motorua railway. On the first call for recruits 50 per cent of the party left the job, all of whom have, worse luck, figured in the casualty lists, one . . . . being killed. Up to date 70 per cent of the men employed have joined, and at present the party contains two men who offered, but were refused, one after being in Trentham for a week or so, when his age was discovered to be rather great.” The men who enlisted included Draughtsman G. G. Lowe (twice wounded).
George G. Lowe was still on duty in France when his sister, Mary, returned home from duty in May 1917. It was in 1918 that Mr Lowe of Tai Tapu received word that his son, Sergeant G. G. Lowe, was to return to the Dominion on duty on Draft 149. Drafts Nos. 147, 148 and 149 would arrive in New Zealand in March, bringing sick and invalided soldiers. G. G. Lowe had embarked per the “Tahiti” on 1 February 1918 at Liverpool. Back home in New Zealand, G. G. Lowe was to be a regimental sergeant-major while acting as an instructor at Featherston Camp. He reported for duty at Trentham on 9 April 1918, and soon after he was admitted to the hospital with colic. He was discharged from service on 11 December 1918. For his service in all theatres of war – Egyptian, Balkan (Gallipoli), Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and Western European, he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He had served for 4 years 117 days, nearly 4 years overseas.
George Grigg Lowe, “the only remaining son of Mr and Mrs A. E. Lowe, of TaiTapu, Christchurch,” married Lelia Frances Lawrence in a military wedding at St Peter’s, Hamilton, on 9 May 1918. At the sumptuous wedding breakfast, one “noticeable feature of the repast was the absence of a wedding cake, which had been made into three small cakes and dispatched to the bridegroom’s three greatest pals at the front.” Thereafter George and Lelia lived in Wellington, George resuming his occupation as a draughtsman, and playing chess, as his father had done before him.
George’s brother, Ernest George Strong Lowe who served in the Canadian Forces, was killed in action in 1916 at Ypres, Belgium. His sister, Mary Christina Lowe, a twin of Ernest, served as a nurse at the Front with the New Zealand Forces in World War I, returning home invalided in May 1917. Mr A. E. Lowe exercised his horticultural knowledge as a judge at the Soldiers’ Queen Flower Show in Christchurch in March 1916, and was surely instrumental in the generous donation of choice daffodil bulbs from the Hon. R. H. Rhodes’s garden at Otahunu. He was one of the monthly contributors to the Tai Tapu Patriotic Society’s funds. He also made gifts to the Red Cross. All this occurred just a month or two before the death of his son Ernest. After his son’s death, Mr Lowe maintained his involvement in war matters. He spoke to a motion pertaining to the Military Service Bill at a public meeting held at Tai Tapu in July 1916. A couple of months later he made a donation towards funds to build a Y.M.C.A. hutment in France. And in December he accompanied Colonel Rhodes and the Acting Prime Minister on a visit to Hanmer with regard to laying out and preparing land for orchards for returned soldiers. At a committee meeting of the Canterbury Sweet Pea and Carnation Society, held in April 1918, Mr A. E. Lowe presented a letter from the secretary of the War Horticultural Relief Fund regarding a fund for reinstating the gardens and providing seeds and trees in the countries that have been devastated through the war. The Society resolved to do its best to assist in any way possible.
Corporal George Grigg Lowe attested for World War II on 25 May 1942. He and his wife Lelia, his nominated next-of-kin, were living at Khandallah. They had one child still under the age of sixteen. George was 52 years old, and a draughtsman. He had had two months off work with heart weakness and lumbago. He had two scars on his left thigh – scars gunshot wounds?
Alfred Lowe died in 1924 and his wife Elizabeth in 1926. They are buried in the Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, where their headstone bears a memorial to their son Ernest. Two cousins of George - Gordon Gilmore Lyall and William Carnegie Lyall - were killed in action, Gordon in 1917 and William in 1918, while Angus and Hugh Christopher Lyall returned home. George Grigg Lowe died at Wellington on 17 January 1956, aged 65 years, He was cremated at Karori, Wellington, where his name was inscribed in the Memorial Book. Lelia died in 1984 and was also cremated at Karori. George drew up his last will in 1938, appointing his wife as sole executrix and giving all his property to her. If she had predeceased him, he made provision for his Trustee to divide in equal shares for his children. George and Leila had at least two daughters. A photograph of G. G. Lowe is printed in Onward: Portraits of the NZEF, Vol. 1.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [06 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5922 0069556) [23 August 2016]; Note attached to parents' headstone image - Sandy em (Flickr Photo Sharing) [06 September 2013]; Timaru Herald, 6 March 1889, 18 January 1892, 30 June 1892, 27 June 1893, 30 January 1894, 30 October 1895, 4 May 1896, Star, 14 December 1895, 4 May 1915, 3 March 1916, 22 May 1917, 13 March 1918, Lyttelton Times, 20 December 1900, 8 February 1908, Press, 21 December 1901, 22 April 1916, 23 May 1916, 17 August 1916, 6 October 1916, 5 & 14 March 1918, 22 May 1917, 20 April 1918, 27 December 1924, 21 December 1931, 13 August 1932, Otago Daily Times, 3 February 1908, Evenong Sta, 3 February 1908, Dominion, 29 May 1908, 7 September 1914, 5 May 1915, 25 May 1916, 1 June 1918, Manawatu Standard, 5 September 1914, Taranaki Herald, 8 May 1915, North Otago Times, 13 May 1915, Sun, 17 June 1915, 22 May 1916, 21 July 1916, 5 & 13 March 1918, New Zealand Herald, 23 May 1916, 27 December 1924, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 27 May 1916, 16 August 1916, Otago Witness, 30 August 1916, Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 October 1916, Ellesmere Guardian, 13 December 1916, Evening Post, 13 March 1918, Waikato Times, 11 May 1918 (Papers Past) [06 September 2013; 28 October 2015; 01 & 02 April 2016; 04 February 2017; 12, 17, 18 & 19 October 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [April 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Canterbury branches NZSG) [April 2016]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [17 April 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [01 April 2016]; Karori Crematorium records (Wellington City Council) [08 April 2014]; Onward: Portraits of the NZEF, Vol. 1. (South Canterbury Branch NZSG library) [08/11/2014]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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