WW1 Lieut. Colonel Conrad Gordon Saxby D.S.O. SA7948, 1534 AND 13/250

Lieut. Colonel Conrad Gordon Saxby [1]

Conrad Saxby was the fourth son of Gordon Harding and Katharine Saxby (nee Greenwood) of Quamby, corner of 23 Orakei Road and Rangitoto Avenue, Remuera, Auckland.

He was born on 7 January 1880 and brought up at St. Lawrence, Hawke’s Bay, and was educated at Wanganui College. On leaving school he joined the staff of Murray, Roberts and Co., Napier, before he resigned in order to serve in the South African war, age 21. [1]

Saxby and Seddon in South Africa [2]

Conrad Gordon Saxby [3]

He was part of the Fourth Contingent of 462 men from Hawkes Bay, Otago and Southland, known as the Rough Riders, as well as the 7th Contingent later on. [2] Conrad served for 2 years and 4 months attaining the rank of Captain in January 1902. [3] He also served one year (1905) with the South Rhodesian Volunteers. He received the Queen’s and King’s Medals with 4 and 2 bars respectively, which are on display in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. [4] He was placed on the N Z Militia Reserve of Officers in September 1910.

Conrad was engaged in sheep farming at Haupoto near Opotiki when WW1 started in August 1914. On 3rd Feb 1915 at age 34 he wrote to the Commanding Officer, Auckland District, offering his services in the mounted reinforcements and outlining his experience in the South African War as 2 years 4 months with last rank of captain 15 January 1902. At his 19 Feb 1915 attestation he was described as “a perfectly healthy and well-built type of man”. On 11 August 1915 he was appointed Captain C G Saxby, Reserve of Officers (General List) NZEF, 6th Reinforcements, with effect from 18 May 1915.

Saxby in South Africa [4]

After a bout of measles resulting in a month in hospital at Trentham Camp, he embarked overseas on 14 Aug 1915-19 September 1915 from Wellington, to Suez, Egypt on the HMNZT 28 Tofua with the rank of Captain/Military in the Auckland Mounted Rifles 6th Reinforcements. On 27th December 1915 he disembarked for Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. On 12.2.1916 he was promoted to Major [5] and on 9th March 1916 transferred to become the Officer in Command of the Pioneer (Maori) Battalion A Company on the death of Lieut.-Colonel King. He embarked for France with the battalion on 9th April 1916.

Saxby was Mentioned in Despatches from General Sir Douglas Haig, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France, dated 13th November, 1916.” [6] On 1st January 1917 Conrad was awarded the Distinguished Service Order: the citation read – “For good work and devotion to duty during the period August 27th/October 2nd 1916. During this period Major Saxby commanded ‘A’ Company New Zealand Pioneers, and his coolness under fire and he set a splendid example, were an inspiration to the men working under fire. [SIC] His company work was always laid off with sound judgement and well carried out.” [7]

Saxby — Wargraves [5]

St Aidan's Church [6]

On 7th August 1917, Saxby was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and to command of the New Zealand Maori Battalion in the field. Details of his service in command of the N Z Maori Battalion can be found in the official war history of the Maori Battalion by James Cowan. [8] On the 21 November 1918 Conrad Saxby was admitted to No. 3 London General Hospital in Wandsworth with influenza and pneumonia. He died on 27th November 1918, a fortnight after the armistice on 11 November 1918. A brother Lionel had died of typhoid in 1910 age 36. [9]

Conrad Gordon Saxby is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England. He is remembered at:

• Opotiki War Memorial http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/opotiki-war-memorial

• St Aidan’s Church, Ascot Avenue, Remuera, Auckland.


Medals [10]

  • Distinguished Service Order
  • Queen’s South Africa Medal Relief of Kimberley, Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony
  • King’s South Africa Medal South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal Mentioned in Despatches