George Malcolm

George Malcolm

George Malcolm is one of 285 New Zealanders buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France. The 22-year-old law student was serving with the 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade near Colincamps village when he was killed leading his platoon during an attack early on the morning of 28 March 1918. Malcolm’s unit, affectionately known as ‘The Dinks’, had been hastily deployed with the New Zealand Division to the Somme after a massive German attack broke through the British line.

His brother, William Malcolm, later wrote to their mother in Enfield, near Ōamaru, about George’s death. The two young men had left New Zealand within days of each other in November 1917.

April 18th

Dear Mum,

You will be thinking that I have given over writing but I did not had any chance lately.

You would learn the news about poor George even before I did. I had been shifted on to the gun, and was waiting in the village with the rest of the section for the word to move up, when I saw Lieut Mckenzie coming up the road. I went out and asked him about George and he told me he had been killed. I could not realise it at first.
You would get all the particulars from Alex Campbell and very likely Mr Clark. Mckenzie told me that Alex was writing to you that even yet you may know all about it before I have a chance of seeing those boys of the Dinks who were with him when he met his death.

Poor old Mum and Dad, I don’t know how you can bear it, but remember George was a son who was an honour to you. Even although I am his brother I must tell you that I know very few boys who lived a cleaner life. Why is it that he, who was the pick of us all, should be taken and me still here. I do not know of any officer who was more respected by his men and I am certain that his old platoon would have followed him anywhere. They treated him as one of themselves and I am certain that each feels he has lost a pal. It must be a fearful blow to you all. It was on 9th April that I learnt about it and from what I could gather it must have happened about 30th March.

I gave Mckenzie an unfinished letter to Dad so it would reach home alright. He said he would put a note with it. He told me that our Company was going up near the spot where George was buried. He gave me a rough outline showing where the grave, which was marked with a white cross, was situated. We moved up that night to within two or three hundred yards of the front line and camped in a bivvy. It was pretty wet too, so that I had plenty to do besides fret. This is the hard part of the game especially when one carries 4 panniers of rounds.

We camped near an old sugar refinery or what was left of it. Mckenzie had told me George’s grave was about 500 yards north along a sunken road. On three different days I searched for nearly a mile along and in from the road, but although I found many 4th Battn chaps there I could not find him. I found Harry Cottingham within a couple of hundred yds of the factory. He was knocked out on the 6th. Poor old Harry. I had seen him about a week before. The Dinks had their usual luck. On marching up, they found Fritz marching through the village so you can guess what it was like. They drove him back to a position which the Dinks and our chaps took a few days later. The trenches they took were in a fearful mess. Old Fritz shelled us a bit, but not a great deal. We spent 4 days there and shifted back further for the rest of the time…

You will no doubt get all George’s things home. He had his photo taken in Wick. I have one and I think you were to have some sent to you.

Cousin Ellen sent me two photos of myself and them. She said she would send you some. I will have to write and break the news to her and I know they will take it hard. I have just been handed a parcel at this moment from you, but I will post this now to be sure it gets in. I will write to Sis soon.

Your loving son.

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