Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Death in France ( or Belgium)



How is it that a life was valued so little that even when fighting for his country records cant even state the country that a young man died. Such I assume was because of the vast waste of life that the “Great” War of 1914 – 18 was.


He’s not the only member of my ancestral family of course to die in the “Great War” which took the lives of most of a generation of young men of the time, but George Ernest Allington seems to me to be such a good looking man, and it was a bit of luck that his war records were available to be downloaded from the NZ Archives.

George Ernest was the son of George ALLINGTON  and Phoebe ALLINGTON ( nee Abbott). Phobe was the daughter of Sarah Ann Abbott who I have posted about before.

( as a side note its interesting Phoebe married a man named Allington as this was her Mother’s maiden name. One wonders if there is more of a connection than cooincidence – Allington is hardly a common name!.

Anyway back to poor George Ernest Allington. I must say what hit me the most when reading his military records was how little information they contained. If I was the mother of a young man fighting for his country I would want more details than are listed in the reports. Im sure times have changed markedly and a life given for the country is much more highly valued now.

From his records – compressed into a mere 2.3 MB pdf file ,it appears he spent some time in a base hospital after being “unsuccessfully” vaccinated for typhoid. I’m not sure what effect an unsuccessful vaccination would have but he it appears he was in the Base hospital in Cairo for over 2 months between September and November 1915 .

He rejoined his Unit from hospital in January 1916, and then in April embarked for France.

On July 22nd he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then in January 1917 promoted again to Corporal , though in May of that year he once again was sent to hospital, this time only spending a week before rejoining his Battalion in France on the 12th of May.

On 16th June he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant (one wonders if he was replacing someone else who had died that day, and in fact on that very same day he was promoted,the report simply lists “Killed in Action”. No more detail than that – just another casualty,  and in fact – even the country he died in seems to be unknown. Under Place it says “ In the field, FRANCE or BELGIUM

Posthumously decorated with the 1914- 15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal – not much of a victory for his Mother.



The NZ Wargraves Project has a memorial at Messines Ridge – Maybe he did die there, or maybe not – his records really dont tell us – Interestingly the wargraves project has a date of death 2 days earlier than his records too, and the page for the wargraves website states : There are no stories for this casualty. – isnt that pretty much the story of most of these men. It really seems like it was a reflection of how the troops on the ground were valued about as much as some replaceable commodity.

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