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Gordon, Grosvenor George Stuart (1877–1955)

by R. E. Cowley

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Grosvenor George Stuart Gordon (1877?-1955), soldier, is said to have been born on 7 February 1877 at Bangalore, India, son of George Charles Gordon, soldier, and his wife Marie Louise. Nothing is known of his early life. As a youth he served in England with the City of London Rifle Battalion and the 17th Lancers and then spent sixteen months with the East Origaland Defence Force. He saw active service with the British Army in 1896 during the Matabele War in operations around Bulawayo and Salisbury. By 1900 he had migrated to Australia and on 15 June that year married Mary Jane Hooper in Melbourne with Free Christian Church rites. On his marriage certificate he gave his age as 34 and his occupation as actor.

During the South African War Gordon enlisted as a corporal in the 5th Victorian (Mounted Rifles) Contingent in February 1901 and served in Cape Colony, Orange River Colony and Eastern Transvaal. He was promoted to sergeant and returned home in April 1902. On 7 March 1910 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Citizen Military Forces and posted to the Australian Corps of Signallers (Victoria), and in 1913 was promoted lieutenant in the 26th Signal Company, Australian Engineers. On the outbreak of World War I he was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force as a lieutenant with the 1st Divisional Signal Company and embarked for Egypt in October 1914. He served at Gallipoli from the landing on 25 April 1915 until the evacuation and from 9 September commanded the signal company. He was promoted captain on 3 November and played an important part in the planning and execution of line communications vital to the successful withdrawal of the 1st Division, the last message being received by line at Divisional Headquarters on 20 December, just two hours before the last boat left Anzac Cove. For his work at Gallipoli he was mentioned in dispatches.

Gordon embarked for France on 21 March 1916, was promoted major on 3 August and commanded the 1st Divisional Signal Company for the rest of the war and beyond. For his personal courage and tireless efforts in maintaining line communications with the front line, particularly during the shell-fire and barrages at Pozières, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in December 1916. He was also twice mentioned in dispatches in 1917. His A.I.F. appointment ended in July 1920 and in 1920-30 he was 'a mechanical expert and sales manager' with the Dunlop Rubber Co. in Sydney. In 1931-39 he owned a milk bar at Randwick and from August 1948 received a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated pension. After World War I he served with the citizen forces, in 1921-27 commanding the 1st Divisional Signals as lieutenant-colonel. Brigadier James Thyer, historian of the signals corps, recalled that 'he appeared at camps always immaculately dressed in faultlessly starched drill, beautifully polished leather, a pith helmet and, above all, an eyeglass. He impressed'.

Known by his contemporaries as a colourful, cheerful and efficient officer, Gordon helped to lay the foundations of the modern Royal Australian Corps of Signals. In World War I, when radio was in its infancy, and rarely seen on the battlefield, his determination and courage in providing and maintaining line communications, often with horse-drawn cable teams under shell-fire, significantly contributed to the operational success of the 1st Division.

Survived by his wife and son, Gordon died at Concord on 15 July 1955 and was cremated with Anglican rites. His death certificate stated that he was 81.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929)
  • R. R. McNicoll, The Royal Australian Engineers 1902 to 1919 (Canb, 1979)
  • London Gazette, 28 Jan, 29 Dec 1916, 2 Jan, 28 Dec 1917
  • Reminder, July 1955
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Aug 1938
  • J. H. Thyer, Royal Australian Corps of Signals, Corps history 1906-1918 (manuscript, 1974, Australian War Memorial)
  • war diary, 1st Divisional Signal Company, AIF (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

R. E. Cowley, 'Gordon, Grosvenor George Stuart (1877–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gordon-grosvenor-george-stuart-6428/text10995, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 21 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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