Topic: Private George Henry Cross

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A soldier of the Great War killed in action during the battle for Messines.

Cross, G. H.

Private George Henry Cross - 15489 

George was born at Greenpark on 31 July 1893, eldest son of John and Grace Cross. He was educated at the Ellesmere School and since leaving school had been engaged in farming. He was farming at Weedons at the time of enlisting. He had previous military experience serving with the 13th Territorial Regiment. He was 5ft 9in tall. 

 George and his brother Hubert Ellesmere, enlisted on 4 April 1916 and were assigned to the 15th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. He and his brother embarked 26 July 1916 and sailed from Wellington for Devonport. They marched into Sling camp 3 October 1916 and then on to France on the 16th October, spending only 17 days in England. On 12 March 1917 George was admitted to hospital with a common complaint of the time, scabies. He was sent on to Northumbrian Casualty Clearing Station for treatment. He re-joined his battalion 23 March 1917. He was killed in action 7 June 1917, aged 24, during the first day of the Battle for Messines. His younger brother, Hubert was wounded severely by a shell on the same day as his brother met his death. He suffered a gunshot wound and compound fracture to his left arm but after treatment he returned to New Zealand. George’s body was not recovered or identified and his name is recorded on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial. In New Zealand he is remembered on the Springston War Memorial. He is also remembered on the family gravestone in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.

Researched and written by L M Seaton 

CWCG Cemetery locale history: Messines (now Mesen) was considered a strong strategic position, not only from its height above the plain below, but from the extensive system of cellars under the convent known as the 'Institution Royale'. The village was taken from the 1st Cavalry Division by the German 26th Division on 31 October-1 November 1914. An attack by French troops on 6 -7 November was unsuccessful and it was not until the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917 that it was retaken by the New Zealand Division. On 10-11 April 1918, the village fell into German hands once more after a stubborn defence by the South African Brigade, but was retaken for the last time on 28-29 September 1918. The MESSINES RIDGE (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL stands within Messines Ridge British Cemetery and commemorates over 800 soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and who have no known grave. This is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known. The memorials are all in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died. MESSINES RIDGE BRITISH CEMETERY, in which this memorial stands, occupies ground that belonged to the 'Institution Royale'. It was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefield around Messines and from a number of small burial grounds in the area. The dates of death of those buried here range from October 1914 to October 1918, but the majority died in the fighting of 1917. There are now 1,531 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 954 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them, or who were buried in other cemeteries where their graves were destroyed by shell fire. Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Charles Holden.

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Private George Henry Cross

First Names:George Henry
Last Name:Cross
Date of Birth:31 July 1893
Place of Birth:Greenpark, Canterbury
Date of Death:7 June 1917
Place of Death:Belgium
Memorial or Cemetery:Messines Ridge New Zealand Memorial to the Missing, Belgium
Age at death:24
User Name:L M Seaton
Occupation before enlisting:Farmer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:37/8
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:4 April 1916 (enlisted with his brother)
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of John and Grace Cross, of 95, Parkes St., Woolston, Christchurch.John Cross (father), Ellesmere, Canterbury, New Zealand
Service Number:15489
Rank last held:Private
Embarkation:26 July 1916
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Waitemata or Ulimaroa
Theatres of War:Battle of Messines
Cause of Death:Killed in action