Topic: George Hamilton Gillanders

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George Hamilton Gillanders (11/802A) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton.

George Hamilton Gillanders (occasionally recorded as Hamilton George Gillanders) was born in Christchurch on 17th June 1879. One of eight children - he had five sisters (Margaret Kennedy - born 1872, Jane - 1875, Flora - 1876, Elizabeth Hamilton – 1883 and Rebecca McRae - 1886) and two brothers (Duncan - 1876 and John Robert – 1881).

His father, Murdock Kennedy Gillanders, emigrated from Ross-shire, Scotland to Canterbury aboard the ship Chrysolite, landing on 31st July 1871. He was a shepherd. He married Elizabeth Hamilton Hiles in 1872. At the time of George’s enlistment, his parents were living at 386 Yaldhurst Road. Both are buried in St Peters Churchyard Cemetery, Upper Riccarton. Murdock was a member of the Greendale Doman Board until 1893.

Elizabeth Hamilton Hiles came to New Zealand alone as a 20 year old domestic servant on the ship Himalaya in 1865. She was from County Antrim, Ireland.

At the time of the War, George was single and working for Mr. C F Vallance as a shepherd in Taueru, Wairarapa. He had previous military experience with the 3rd New South Wales Bushman in the Boer War. George enlisted on 15th December 1914 at Trentham, Upper Hutt. Given the service number 11/802A, he was recorded as 5 feet 11 ½ inches tall, weighing 163 pounds with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was affiliated to the Presbyterian Church.

George set sail on 14th February 1915 from Wellington aboard the RMS Tahiti as part of the Wellington Mounted Rifles, 3rd Reinforcements. Upon landing in Suez, Egypt on 26th March 1915, he was sent to the Dardanelles with the Auckland Mounted Rifles, A Squadron to fight in the Gallipoli campaign.

On 28th August 1915, George received a gunshot wound to the hand. He was removed from combat and evacuated on the Hospital Ship Gascon to Alexandria in Egypt. On 10th September 1915 he was moved to the New Zealand General Hospital in Cairo. Whilst receiving treatment for this injury, George fell ill with typhoid and pneumonia. He succumbed to this sickness and passed away in hospital on 15th September 1915.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt at Grave D. 104. This is within the walls of the Old Cairo cemetery. There are 2,056 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery.

George was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal (1914-20) and the Victory Medal.

George Hamilton Gillanders is memorialised on the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library Roll of Honour.

Researched by Kieran Mitchell

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George Hamilton Gillanders


First Names:George Hamilton
Last Name:Gillanders
Place of Birth:Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand