WW1 Battle of the Somme — Captain Geoffrey Clifford Wilson Armstrong

Captain Geoffrey Clifford Wilson Armstrong

Geoffrey Armstrong enlisted in July 1915 as a lieutenant in the Auckland Infantry Battalion, married Amy Dorothy Cochran at Devonport in October 1915 and sailed to Egypt one month later, disembarking in Suez on Christmas Day 1915.

He had attended Devonport School where his father James was headmaster and Auckland Grammar School where he played for the First XV. Geoffrey had been a keen army cadet from the age of 12 years at Grammar and College Rifles in Remuera where he was a non-commissioned officer.

A 1916 Herald story [1] said at the time he enlisted in the Auckland Infantry, he was studying law at Auckland University and working as a law clerk at firm Earl and Kent. He was a strong swimmer, an enthusiastic yachtsman and a member of the Royal N Z Yacht Squadron. At enlistment he was skipper of the Windward, which was left in his care by her owner Mr N F Whitmore. [2]

He was always keenly interested in military work, and had obtained a lieutenant’s commission some time before war was declared. Although offering his services at a comparatively early period, he had, like many others, to wait his turn. He was promoted to the rank of captain before leaving Egypt for France on HMS Ascania on 8th April 1916. Captain Armstrong was a man of strong physique and fearless disposition.” [3]

Geoffrey Armstrong was killed in action by a sniper on the 15th September 1916 at the start of the New Zealanders’ push at the Battle of the Somme. He never saw his daughter who was born at his home Rosebank in Devonport on 4 August 1916. [4] He was 23 years of age.

Captain Armstrong is buried at the Thistle Dump Cemetery at High Wood, Longueval near the Somme. Geoffrey Clifford Wilson Armstrong is remembered on memorials at College Rifles, Remuera, Auckland Grammar School, Devonport War Memorial, Devonport Primary School and Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Devonport. His name is on the Roll of Honour at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Cenotaph database.