Occupation: Engineering surveyor
Gordon was born in February 1895, the son of a pioneering family in Nelson. His mother came from Victoria, Australia. The family moved to Murchison. During that time Gordon went to Nelson Boys' College while boarding with an aunt in Hope. He travelled to school on the train and on school holidays went home to Murchison by Cobb coach.
He succeeded well at school, gained his U.E. in 1911 at the age of sixteen and played in the First XV rugby team for Nelson College.
When war broke out in 1914 he enlisted on 18 August indicating a birth date of February 1894. He put his age up in order to go away with his mates and was put in the artillery division on one of the big guns which required a crew of five. At the time he was 19 years old and weighed 65kgs. They departed from Wellington with the Main Body on 16 October to Egypt where they spent the first few months, then on to Gallipoli in 1915.
As a gunner Gordon wasn’t required ashore for three days so was very lucky to miss the absolute fiasco that ensued in those first few days. Gordon recalled, to his daughter, what it was like living in trenches with the dead, rats crawling everywhere and the smell, at the same time as eating their meagre rations of rice and bully beef to keep alive. One memory that sticks for him was when the gun received a direct hit and all his four mates were killed in a “flash” - he survived without injury being in the lee of the gun! He survived Gallipoli and returned to Egypt after the evacuation of the Dardanelles on 26 December.
Gordon was one of the few who were sent on to the Western Front. After 3 months in a camp in Alexandria, he went to France in April and spent the next sixteen months fighting there before having his first leave - two weeks in England! He missed the train connecting with the transport back to France and forfeited a week’s pay! Apart from a three month tour of duty in England, he remained in France for more than 2 years.
He returned from France in January when he was repatriated home on the Willochra and finally discharged in the May.
The horror of it all doesn’t show as a physical injury - only his mother and his family knew of his awful psychological injury. The effects of post traumatic stress were unknown back then.
Gordon went on to do much with his life. On returning to NZ he trained as an engineering surveyor, worked in Canada for three years then Peru for another three years. Here he was involved in the building of dams and bridges for the highest mountain railway in the world. In 1930 he returned to NZ. It was the time of the Great Depression. He married in 1931, moved to Wellington and worked on railway tunnels being built at that time just north of the city. In 1933 he was requisitioned for roading survey work in the King Country.