15th Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force – who died on 10 May 1915

george_weston

Family History

George was born, in Oadby, to Samuel Weston and his wife Maria, on 15 March 1873. He was their third child and second son. In 1881, the family, which also included three daughters, younger than George, was living in King Street, Oadby. Ten years later the family, which had grown by four more children, had moved to 133 Main Road, which stood between Manchester Cottages and King Street. Samuel, a bricklayer, was no doubt employed in the building of many new houses that were being erected in Oadby at that time. We are told, in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1919, that George was educated at Evington School – it may be that as his parent’s family grew, he spent some time living with other relatives close to Evington. Such a practice was not unusual with large families.

George’s younger brother Lance Corporal Samuel Weston, born on 3rd July 1881, was also a career soldier in the 2nd Batallion, West Yorkshire Regiment and like George he served in South Africa during the 2nd Boer War. He was killed along with 8 other soldiers when the train on which they were travelling between Dasproot and Pretoria exploded. Samuel is buried at Pretoria Cemetery.

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Announcement of George’s younger brother Samuel’s death in Pretoria, South Africa (click to enlarge)

Service History

George’s military career had begun, in June 1889, when, at the age of sixteen, he joined the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment with which he remained, according to his Australian service record, for more than thirteen years before moving to the Royal Garrison Regiment where he served more than two years. His final deployment, was to the Baden Powell Police from which he was discharged with his service completed after a little over two years. De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour records that he rose to the rank of Sergeant and served in Ireland, China, India and South Africa, retiring with a full pension for life; a far cry from his family’s life in Oadby. On leaving the army, George emigrated to Australia, sailing on the “Rippington Grange” a Queensland Line ship bound for Brisbane in 1909.

At the time of the outbreak of the First World War, he was working as a labourer on a sheep farm in Queensland. He enlisted in the Australian Infantry on 19 September 1914 at Bundaberg, Queensland. On 1 October 1914, George was appointed sergeant with the Australian Expeditionary Force. His enlistment documents state he was forty one years old, was five feet five and a half inches tall, weighed 143 pounds and had a chest measurement of 33 to 37 inches.

George was described as having a fresh complexion with fair hair and blue eyes, with a scar on his left shoulder and tattoos on his right forearm of a kangaroo, a hare and another, possibly of flags. George was unmarried – his religious denomination was Church of England.

He embarked with the 15th Battalion, Australian Infantry Force for service overseas on 22 December 1914, first stopping at Cairo.

 

On Active Service

On 25 April 1915, George was among the 3rd Australian Brigade which made the last part of their night journey in 36 tows, which the Turkish troops fired upon from defensive positions, before the men landed at the tip of the Ari Burnu promontory, now known as Anzac Cove.

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On the 2/3 May the allies attempted to break out of Anzac Cove with an attack on hill Baby 700, it was unsuccessful. An Anzac attack on Gaba Tepe on 4 May was also beaten off by the Turkish defenders.

The 15th Battalion occupied trenches known as Quinn’s Post. The Turks were in trenches only 10 metres away. An attack by the 15th Battalion succeeded in occupying the Turkish trenches on 9/10 May, however, a furious counterattack by the Turks drove the Australians out of the trenches and back to their own lines.

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The Taking of Lone Pine by Fred Leist shows ANZAC forces engaged in fierce hand to hand combat during the capture of Turkish trenches

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Australian troops occupy a captured Turkish trench

The 15th Battalion took 160 casualties killed and wounded – sadly, amongst them was Sergeant George Weston. George was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory medal.

 

Memorials

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George is remembered with Honour at Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.

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George is remembered with Honour on the Bundaberg War Memorial, Queensland, Australia.

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George’s name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli

Photographs of the Lone Pine Memorial are reproduced with the kind permission of Jim Buchanan