Topic: George Augustus King

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Lieutenant-Colonel George Augustus King (Service no. 11/680) was a First World War soldier with links to Burwood.

George August King, image from Auckland War Memorial MuseumGeorge Augustus (Gus) King was born in Burwood on 3 March 1885. His father George King was a well-known merchant, auctioneer and ostrich farmer who named the district after his birthplace of Burwood in New South Wales.

A professional soldier, King was a lieutenant with the 4th Mounted Rifles when war broke out. In May 1915 his brigade was sent to Anzac Cove and King took over command of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment with the rank of temporary major.

Appointed DSO for his service at Gallipoli and promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, he took command of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. This unit provided skilled labour for making trenches and roads, and distinguished itself at the front during the battles of the Somme in 1916 and Messines in 1917. Their soubriquet "Diggers" was eventually adopted by all the Anzacs.

In 1917 King was briefly attached to the French First Army with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and won the Croix de Guerre. He then took over command of 1st Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment and was serving with them when he was killed by British artillery fire on 12 October 1917 during the attack before Passchendaele. The Pioneer Battalion recovered his body and buried him at Ypres. He was posthumously awarded a bar for his DSO in January 1918.

His entry in Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand says that he loved sport, was a fine horseman and had a good eye for country, a genial disposition and the knack of handling backblocks men. Frequently mentioned in dispatches, he was "one of the best of the first generation of the New Zealand Staff Corps", an effective commander who was killed before he reached his prime. He was survived by his wife and two children.

 

Related Resources

  • Online Cenotaph record for George Augustus King. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  • New Zealand War Graves Project
  • G.A King's military personnel file. Archives New Zealand (Archway)

 

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George Augustus King


First Names:George Augustus
Last Name:King
Place of Birth:Burwood, Christchurch