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George Lynch Darby Cobb


George Lynch Darby Cobb, No. 3/2544

New Zealand Medical Corps

Drowned at sea, 27 May 1917

Born in Palmerston North in 1897, George Cobb was one of the ten children of Laura and Alfred, a builder. Known as Lynch, he attended the local Campbell Street School and with his family was involved in the Salvation Army. He was working as a cabinetmaker for undertakers and furniture makers Kells and Pike when he decided to enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in mid-1916.

Short, with brown hair and brown eyes, Lynch became a private in the New Zealand Medical Corps. He was appointed to the role of an orderly on board the Marama, one of New Zealand’s two hospital ships. The work was demanding, with orderlies often working up to fifteen hours a day cleaning, dressing wounds and serving meals. Apart from when they carried men wounded on the Somme across the English Channel in 1916, the hospital ships were tasked with transporting incapacitated men back to New Zealand. The Marama had recently returned to New Zealand when Lynch left on his first voyage in November 1916, bound for Southampton, England. He safely completed one round trip and was on his second when tragedy struck.

On the morning of 27 May 1917, the Marama ran into a north-easterly gale shortly after leaving Durban, South Africa. Lynch was reportedly on deck emptying rubbish over the side of the ship when a heavy wave swept him and a patient overboard. Lifebuoys were deployed and the ship conducted a search, but neither man was found. A Court of Enquiry later determined that both had drowned and that no one was to blame for the incident. Lynch was 20 years old.

Lynch’s name is included on the Wellington provincial war memorial in Karori Cemetery dedicated to those who died at sea. Following his death, the men of the Marama remembered him as ‘a jolly chap, and a good worker’,[1] while his former school recalled his ‘ever-cheerful and genial disposition.’[2] The Cobb family felt his death deeply. For several years afterwards the family placed memorial notices in the local newspaper on the anniversary of Lynch’s death. His brother Leonard, younger by a year, was particularly affected. In 1918 he expressed his continued sorrow in the Manawatu Standard: ‘Worthy of everlasting love, to those he left behind. A truer brother could not have been. Nor one so good and kind.’[3]

Further Information

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph record

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record

Palmerston North war memorial

'Salvation Army', Manawatu Standard, 24 February 1911, p. 2

'Salvation Army', Manawatu Standard, 5 January 1912, p. 6

'H.S. Marama', Evening Post, 9 November 1916, p. 8

'Roll of Honour. In Memoriam', Manawatu Standard, 27 May 1920, p. 1

'Roll of Honour', Manawatu Standard, 27 May 1921, p. 1

'Roll of Honour. In Memoriam', Manawatu Standard, 26 May 1922, p. 1

'They served' – blog post about Lynch Cobb

[1] 'Washed overboard', Poverty Bay Herald, 17 July 1917, p. 4.

[2] 'Personal', Manawatu Times, 1 June 1917, p. 5.

[3] 'In Memoriam', Manawatu Standard, 27 May 1918, p. 1.


Auckland Libraries
Reference: Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19170628-41-6
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George Lynch Darby Cobb, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated