George Douglas FORDYCE


FORDYCE, George Douglas

Service Number: 39022
Enlisted: 23 May 1917, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Gunner
Last Unit: 5th Divisional Ammunition Column
Born: Cottesloe, Western Australia, 16 December 1898
Home Town: Kew, Boroondara, Victoria
Schooling: St Peter's College
Occupation: Student
Died: Killed in Action, France, 9 August 1918, aged 19 years
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux
Plot III, Row F, Grave No. 5
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Kew War Memorial, North Adelaide Christ Church Roll of Honour, North Adelaide Christ Church Honour Board, Scotch College WW1 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

23 May 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 39022, Melbourne, Victoria
26 Nov 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 39022, Field Artillery Brigades, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
26 Nov 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 39022, Field Artillery Brigades, SS Indarra, Melbourne
9 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 39022, 5th Divisional Ammunition Column, "The Last Hundred Days"

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From the book Fallen Saints  -  George Douglas Fordyce of Toorak Victoria was born at Cottesloe Western Australia.

He attended Saint Peter’s 1913-1916 and while there served in both the junior and senior cadets and when he enlisted in Melbourne on 23 May 1917 was18 years of age and still a student. 

While undergoing initial training at Maribyrnong Camp he was deemed to have NCO potential and on 24 November 1917 he was appointed acting Bombardier. He sailed from Melbourne aboard SS Indarra with the 33rd quota of reinforcements for the Australian Field Artillery on 26 November and disembarked at Suez in late December.

Towards the end of January 1918 he sailed for England where he underwent further training at Heytesbury Camp and in February reverted to his substantive rank.

In the first week of May he sailed from Southampton and joined the 5th Divisional Artillery Column in France on 29 May 1918.

Gunner George Douglas Fordyce was killed in action near Villers-Bretonneux, on 9 August 1918; he was 19 years of age.

Reports and witness statements [i]

During a Red Cross interview conducted in October 1918 Gunner Kenneth McNeil said Douglas Fordyce was killed on the road coming down from Warfusse by bomb dropped from a plane at daybreak about 9 August. ‘He was hit in the back and side, and lived, unconscious about 10 minutes.’ McNeil said he was buried just outside 4th Division’s main dressing station at Fouilloy. ‘We were in the No 2 Section, I saw him killed and saw his grave just after the burial. There was no cross on it then but one was to be erected.’

 Gunner Herbert Brady, interviewed on the same day as Gunner McNeil said he did not see Douglas Fordyce killed but knew he was buried at Corbie and that a cross had been erected. ‘I have not seen his grave but saw his cross ready for erection. He was buried by Padre P S Moore, Chaplain 5th DAC, was a new hand did not know him personally.’

Gunner Percival Welch during an interview at the end of October 1918 said dawn was just breaking day and their Column was passing through a village, returning from the guns. ‘Fordyce had jumped off the limber to pick up 2 brushes which were lying on the side of the road and just as he did this, an enemy plane seemed to drop clean out of the clouds and loosed a couple of bombs, one of them fell close alongside Fordyce, cutting him up very severely, he died a few minutes later, never having regained consciousness.’ Welch who had been travelling on the same limber said ‘we picked him up and carried him back to the wagon lines in the village of Fouilloy a few kilos from Amiens. A proper cross was put up and a photograph was after taken of the grave.’

On 6 December 1918, Lieutenant Leonard Baker, who knew Douglas described him as a tall man about 5 ft 9 ins, slightly built with a  fair complexion and about 21 years of age. ‘Casualty was coming down from ammunition dump Warfusse to Villers Bretonneux. He was along with myself. A bomb from a plane exploded near Casualty killing him instantly. …’

George Fordyce was the cousin of Lieutenant Colin Macpherson Smith (OS) (DOW 5/10/17), and his brothers Sir Ross Macpherson Smith and Sir Keith Macpherson Smith. [ii]

[i] ibid, - George Douglas Fordyce / 1090206, viewed 18 January 2006
[ii] Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour Cards 145, 1914-1918 War, Army - Fordyce George Douglas, viewed 14 April 2006