Topic: George Reginald Edwards

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George Reginald Edwards (Service Number 23758) enlisted for the First World War with a Peterborough Street address.

George was born on 23rd of June 1894 in Christchurch to Edmund and Eunice Druscilla Edwards. One of five children, his brother Edmund John also served in the First World War.

The Edwards family lived at 216 Peterborough Street, and George used this address for his next-of-kin contact. He gave his last address as the General Post Office in Wellington where he was employed as a clerk. George had worked for the Post & Telegraph Office since 1907 and had transferred from Christchurch to Wellington in 1911.

5 foot 9 inches with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion George had been drilling with the Post & Telegraph Territorials and had achieved the rank of Sergeant. In his medical examination it was noted that “although his eyesight is rather defective…is a Sgt in the P&T Corps and is highly recommended by his officers” George was declared fit and enlisted on the 16th of November 1915 with the 13thReinforcements.

George spent several months in New Zealand before leaving for Foreign Service on the Willochra from Wellington on the 31st of May 1916. While in New Zealand he’d held the rank of Corporal, then Sergeant. On joining the Main Body he reverted to Private.

George disembarked at Devonport on the 26th July 1916 and then proceeded to Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plains. He was posted to the Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company.

He was quickly promoted to Temporary Corporal on 29th of July 1916 but reverted to Private at his own request on 14th of August. George was promoted again to Temporary Corporal on 27th of October 1916 while at the School of Instruction in Signalling at Weymouth. George attended the course between 2ndof November and the 29th of December and successfully qualified as a signaller. Signallers had a vital role conveying orders from headquarters to the frontline. Wirelesses, telephones and even semaphore were used to keep the lines of communication open.

Promoted to Sergeant in February 1917, George was transferred to the Training Company in April the same year. He finally left for France in August 1917 and joined the 3rd Battalion Auckland Regiment. Posted to Battalion Headquarters his next stop was the Divisional Gas School. Here Non-Commissioned Officers were trained in an intensive programme on defensive and preventative methods to prepare for trench gas attacks.

In November 1917 he was transferred to 3rd Battalion Otago Regiment and in February 1918 he was attached to 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment 10th Company.

After leave to the UK in September 1918 George re-joined his battalion. Notably, George was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches “for distinguished and gallant service and devotion to duty during the period 25th of February 1918 to 16th of September 1918” Also for the period 16th of September to the 15th of March 1919.

George returned to New Zealand on the SS Kia-Ora from Liverpool on the 27th of March 1919. He was discharged from service on the 6th of June 1919. George received the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

On discharge he returned to the General Post Office in Wellington. Now an officer of the Secretary’s Branch, George was essentially a civil servant. He was also active in the local Wellington Methodist Church and was secretary of the South Wellington Circuit.

In 1922 he married Edith Mary Neimann, but happiness was short-lived.

George was diagnosed with exophthalmic goitre an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. Now called Graves’ disease, this disorder has both genetic and environmental components. George was unlucky as a young male to be afflicted, as the disease is more prevalent in woman and symptoms more commonly start between the ages of 40 and 60.

George died of cardiac arrest - weakening of the heart and heart failure being another complication of Grave’s Disease.

He is interred at Karori Cemetery, his headstone reads “In loving memory of our loved one 23758 Sergt George Reginald Edwards, Otago Regiment 2nd Battalion, beloved husband of Edith Edwards. Passed away 28 May 1923 aged 28 years old. “A life made beautiful by kindly deeds, a helping hand for other's needs. One of the best”

The Wellington South Methodist Trinity Church held an “In Memoriam” service for George on June 2nd1923 and a newspaper obituary was published in the Wellington and Christchurch newspapers.

Edith and George had no children


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George Reginald Edwards

First Names:George
Last Name:Edwards
Place of Birth:Christchurch