George Henry ANDERSON

ANDERSON, George Henry

Service Number: 13933
Enlisted: 4 September 1915, Special Reinforcements. Melbourne, Victoria.
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 14th Field Ambulance
Born: Stanley, Victoria, Australia, 1883
Home Town: Beechworth, Indigo, Victoria
Schooling: Stanley State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Timberyard Manager
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 21 September 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Panel 31. Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Beechworth Methodist Church Honour Roll, Beechworth Shire WW1 Honour Roll, Beechworth War Memorial, Corryong War Memorial, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

4 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 13933, Army Medical Corps (AIF), Special Reinforcements. Melbourne, Victoria.
1 Apr 1916: Involvement Private, 13933, Army Medical Corps (AIF), Third Ypres
1 Apr 1916: Embarked Private, 13933, Army Medical Corps (AIF), HMAT Kanowna, Melbourne
12 May 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 14th Field Ambulance, TOS Tel-el-Kebir prior to embarking at Alexandria to join B.E.F.
12 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 14th Field Ambulance, In the field.
21 Sep 1917: Involvement Lance Corporal, 13933, Third Ypres
21 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 13933, 14th Field Ambulance, Menin Road

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Biography contributed by Stephen Learmonth

George Henry Anderson was born in 1883 at Stanley, Victoria. At the time, his father, James, was 33 and his mother, Elizabeth McOstrich (née Jaffray), was 24. He had four brothers and one sister; William, Andrew , Margaret , Joseph, and Archie.

George’s father, James, was born in Durham, England, and immigrated to Australia sometime between 1861 and 1864 along with his family. Initially, they settled in the Rutherglen area before moving to Eldorado. It was here that he met, and married, Elizabeth in 1877.

George was 32 years old when he enlisted at Melbourne, Victoria on 4th of September, 1915. At the time he was single and manager of a timberyard. His medical examination, which was carried out by Dr. Schlink at Wodonga, records his height as 178 cm and weight at 70 kg. He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes, and light brown hair. His religious denomination was given as Methodist. As his father had passed away seven years prior, he listed his mother, Elizabeth, as his next-of-kin.

His initial military training took place at Royal Park and Ascot Vale. On the 19th of October, he was posted to the Clearing Hospital at Seymour for nearly two months and then the Clearing Hospital at Broadmeadows to complete his medical training. On the 1st of April 1916, he embarked on HMAT A61 Kanowna as part of a special medical relief being sent to Egypt. He disembarked on the 12th of May and spent nearly two weeks at Alexandria before being posted to the 14th Field Ambulance. On the 19th of June, he embarked on the HMT Royal George at Alexandria to sail to Marseilles and join the British Expeditionary Forces in France and Belgium.

In the first week of September, George was admitted to the patient side of the 14th Field Ambulance with influenza. Fortunately, he recovered in about ten days and did not become one of the many millions of people worldwide that would succumb to deadly Spanish influenza. Unfortunately, ten days later, George would be posted as being killed in action.

One of the witnesses to George’s death was Private W. H. Smith, also of the 14th Field Ambulance. In the Australian Red Cross Casualty Information report he states:
“I knew casualty. He was a tall man, medium build, dark complexion, about 20 years of age, known as “George”. Casualty was a stretcher bearer at Corduroy Track, Passchendaele. I was a stretcher bearer in the same party as the casualty's. An H.E. (high explosive) shell exploded near him killing him instantly. I was just behind him at the time the shell exploded and went immediately to casualty’s assistance but he was beyond all help. He was buried near where he fell in a small cemetery and I attended his funeral. A cross was erected over the grave with his name, number and unit on it.”

Another witness, Private J. M. Boardman of the 14th Field Ambulance also stated;
“Anderson was killed between Clapham Junction and Glencourse Wood just before reaching the latter and is buried a few yds from where he fell. About half a dozen 14th Fld. Amb. buried together. Captn. Fay 14th Fld. Amb. read the burial service over them. Rough crosses only were erected up to the time I left.”
George’s last resting place was lost amongst the constant shelling that occurred on the Western Front.

The Thursday, 25th October, 1917, edition of the Corryong Courier contained an article on George’s death and links to the Upper Murray:
“During this week word was also received by his relatives that Lance-corporal George Anderson had been killed in action on the 2nd inst. Though a Beechworth lad George often visited relatives here and eventually became storeman in the local store, where he won golden opinions and the confidence of the firm (Carkeek and Eade, later Mr. T. H. Carkeek). His sunny, generous disposition, though somewhat retiring, gained many lasting friends for him, and who now regret the great sacrifice of his young life to help build our Empire of Justice and Liberty. The third son of Mrs Anderson and the late Jas. Anderson, Beechworth, he leaves beside his widowed mother four brothers and one sister, to whom the sincere sympathy of local friends is offered. Lance-corporal was a grandson of the late Mr and Mrs Wm. Anderson, local storekeepers. The school flag was lowered to half-mast in his memory.”

George is remembered on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, and the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Flanders, Belgium, amongst the 54896 Allied soldiers who have no known grave. He is also remembered on the Beechworth Methodist Church Honour Roll, the Beechworth Shire WW1 Honour Roll, the Beechworth War Memorial and the Corryong War Memorial. For his service during the First World War, he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Lest we forget