George Fergus GREIG

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GREIG, George Fergus

Service Number: 407
Enlisted: 17 August 1914, Essendon, Victoria
Last Rank: Company Sergeant Major
Last Unit: 7th Infantry Battalion
Born: West Brunswick, Victoria, Australia, June 1891
Home Town: Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: King Street State School, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Tramways motorman
Died: Killed in Action, Gallipoli, Gallipoli, Dardanelles, Turkey, 8 May 1915
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Helles Memorial, Cape Helles, Gallipoli Peninsula, Canakkale Province, Turkey
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Kensington ANA Flemington Branch No69 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 407, Essendon, Victoria
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 407, 7th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 407, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 407, 7th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
30 Apr 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Company Sergeant Major, 7th Infantry Battalion

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Biography

George Fergus Greig was born in West Brunswick, Victoria, in 1982 to his parents, George and Mary Anne Greig. Greig had six siblings named Alex, Elsie, Winnie, Lindsay, Mabel and Violet. He attended school at the King Street State School, located in Melbourne, Victoria, and his religion was Presbyterian. Greig was engaged to a woman named Bessie Hedley before he left.

Prior to joining the First World War, Greig was a Tramways Motorman, as well as having been a Sergeant in the Scottish Regiment, and he was also Captain of the 61st Regiment of the citizen forces. This meant that when Grieg joined the war he was given the rank of Sergeant, meaning that the privates looked to him for instruction.

Greig’s description and measurements as recorded on his enlistment form were that he was 5 foot 8 inches and weighed 128.6lbs, or 58.33 kilograms. His chest measurement was 37 inches. Greig had a fair completion, dark brown hair and brown eyes.

 

After enlisting in the war on the 17th of August 1914 in Essendon, Greig departed on the 19th of October with the service number of 407 as part of the 7th infantry battalion, on the ship A20 Hororata. Common reasons for joining the army at this stage included patriotism (wanting to show support for the country), or the desire to be a part of an adventure, because at this stage no one really knew how big the war was going to get or how horrible it would be, so it was seen as a way to travel and have an adventure. 

The 7th battalion travelled to Egypt for further training, before continuing to join the first wave of soldiers who went ashore at ANZAC cove on the 25th of April in 1915. At this time, the troops were sent to Gallipoli because three naval-only attacks had failed to break through the Dardanelles. Winston Churchill, whose reputation took years to recover, was the man behind much of the Gallipoli plan. The Gallipoli landing is still celebrated, even considering the unsuccessful nature of the venture, because it is regarded as the first time Australia came together as a nation, and so it is celebrated patriotically as a time to come together.

Greig was promoted to Company Sergeant Major on the 30th of April at the Gallipoli Peninsula, making him responsible for administration, standards and discipline, and on the 6th of May, 1915, the 7th battalion moved to Cape Helles. Two days later, they charged positions held by the Turkish, below Krithia, in the second battle of Krithia. This battle has been described as ‘one of the most misconceived episodes in a misconceived battle’, as nearly 1000 men were killed, wounded, or reported missing, and no land was even gained.

Greig was killed in action on the 8th of May, 1915, at the age of 23. His body was not recovered, but he is memorialised at the Cape Helles Memorial in Turkey. He was a part of the war for less than one year.

Greig received a British war medal and a Victory medal, which were given to his mother.

Greig also wrote a diary, which has not been digitalised but is kept by the Australian War Memorial and is available to the public for research.

 

 ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Some qualities of what it means to be ANZAC include displaying courage, endurance, initiative, discipline and kinship, or mateship. The ANZAC spirit means that the soldiers displayed these qualities, even during hard times. Some examples of what it means to reflect the ANZAC spirit include persevering, not complaining during hard times, and trying to be the best you can be.

George Fergus Greig displayed the ANZAC spirit by not only joining the army at the beginning of the war and making the great sacrifice of leaving his family and home to fight for his country, but by putting in his best effort and by result being promoted to Company Sergeant Major. Although he was killed in action, Greig persevered and showed courage during his time in the war.

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