WW1 Battle of the Somme — Lieutenant Gavin Douglas Alexander DCM 4/513

Lieutenant Gavin Douglas Alexander

Gavin Alexander was born on the 14 March 1893 and lived at Clover Nook Rd, Epsom.

He was a popular member of the College Rifles Football Club in Remuera and the Eden Cricket Club. He studied mechanical engineering at Auckland Technical Institute and served his apprenticeship with George Fraser & Sons, Engineers in Stanley St, Auckland. [1] Gavin had a keen interest in military matters and was already a member of the Auckland Divisional Signalling Corps (part of College Rifles) in Remuera. The whole Signallers unit of 36 members gathered at the Concentration Camp at Palmerston North on 19 August 1914 for training [2] and sailed with the main N Z Expeditionary Force in October 1914 on the Maunganui as part of the N Z Corps of Engineers.

Future V.C. winner Cyril Bassett was also in the same College Rifles unit as Gavin Alexander. Gavin landed in Egypt and then embarked from Alexandria for Gallipoli on the 12th April 1915. He survived the ill-fated attack on Gallipoli and the appalling conditions as winter arrived in November. At about the time that Corporal Bassett, of College Rifles, gained his V.C. for a conspicuously daring feat on Gallipoli in laying a telephone wire under heavy fire, Sergeant Alexander also came under the notice of his superior officers for his bravery. [3] Gavin was twice mentioned in despatches for distinguished and gallant services during the period of General Sir Charles Monro’s command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli. [4]

He left Gallipoli on the Ionian in mid-December 1915 when New Zealand evacuated all its troops to Egypt. After rest and recreation, Gavin Alexander sailed to France on the Elele (with 17 officers, 497 men and 504 animals), landing at Marseilles in April 1916. [5] In June 1916 Gavin was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal “For conspicuous good work and devotion to duty throughout the (Gallipoli) campaign.” [6] He was promoted on the field to 2nd Lieutenant on 26 August 1916. On the day of the big push at the battle of the Somme he was wounded in action on 14 or 15 September 1916, and died one day later after being admitted to hospital at the 15th Corps main dressing station in the field. Second Lieutenant Gavin Alexander is buried at the Dartmoor-Becordel Cemetery in France. He is commemorated on the Roll of Honour at College Rifles, Remuera, at St Barnabas Anglican Church in Mt Eden and on the memorial gates of Mt Eden Normal Primary School.