The AIF Project

George Harold TURNER

Regimental number170
Place of birthRedfern, Sydney, New South Wales
ReligionPresbyterian
OccupationEngineer
Address54 Victoria Street, Ashfield, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation30
Next of kinMother, Mrs Mary Turner, 54 Victoria Street, Ashfield, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date19 August 1914
Rank on enlistmentDriver
Unit name1st Field Company Engineers
AWM Embarkation Roll number14/20/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board Transport A19 Afric on 18 October 1914
Regimental number from Nominal RollCommissioned
Rank from Nominal RollLieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll15th Field Company Engineers
FateKilled in Action 26 September 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 7), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
25
Medals

Military Cross

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of a party detailed to construct two strong points in the front line. He was wounded on the way to the position, but refused to relinquish his task, and remained at his post, though in great pain, until the work was completed. He set a magnificent example of fortitude and devotion to duty to all.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 120
Date: 7 August 1918

Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Proceeded to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (Gallipoli), 3 March 1915. Admitted to St Andrew's Hospital, Malta, 27 October 1915 (enteric fever); transferred to 2nd Australian General Hospital, Ghezireh, Egypt, 13 November 1915; to Convalescent Hospital, Ras-el-Tin, 28 December 1915; discharged to duty, 7 January 1916.

Transferred to 15th Field Company Engineers, Tel el Kebir, 9 March 1916. Promoted Sergeant, 15 April 1916.

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 18 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 29 June 1916. Promoted 2nd Lt, 6 December 1916. On furlough to England, 18 December 1916; rejoined unit, 2 January 1917. Detached for duty at 4th Army School, 3 January 1917; rejoined unit, 11 February 1917. Promoted Lt, 14 May 1917. On furlough to England, 18 June 1917; rejoined unit, 4 July 1917.

Awarded the Military Cross.

Reported as wounded in action, 26 September 1917; changed to wounded and missing; subsequently confirmed as killed in action.

Major H. GREENWAY, CO, 15th FCE, made the following statement: 'Lieut. G.H. Turner left Coy Hdqrs on the evening of September 25th 1917 with a party of 50 Infantry with whom he was to construct some S.P.s following on advance of our Infantry through POLYGON WOOD on September 26th. On the way up he was hit in the left calf and though wounded painfully he carried on guiding his party to their arranged assembly trench. At zero on the September 26th though still in great pain, Lieut. TURNER went forward with N.C.O.s and staked, taped and marked out his S.P.s, except one on the right, that ground not being in our possession. He then placed his parties on their jobs and they constructed the works. I received reports from him as to progress up to 11 a.m. and after that heard no more from him. A search was made and he was reported missing, it was not till September 29th that his body was found with his Sgt's body at the edge of NONNE BOSCHEN WOOD. I think he was coming back to report that he was unable to do the right S.P. until the situation was cleared and he and his Sgt. were caught by a shell on their way down. His M.C. was awarded for his gallant conduct in carrying through the night of 24/26th [sic] though badly wounded and then carrying through his work on the morning of the 26th. He was buried in NONNE BOSCHEN WOOD by a party from the 55th Battalion A.I.F.'

Medals: Military Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

A dispute subsequently arose in 1923 between his brothers over the distribution of his medals and 'war mementos', Base Records finally concluding, 25 January 1924, that since the medals had been disposed of in accordance with his Mother's wishes, it could not intervene, and advising the petitioner that 'doubtless were you to approach your relatives with a view to possessing some token of the late officer's services no difficulty would be experienced at arriving at a compromise.'

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