Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Private Harry McKillop - Mt Eden War Memorial

Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1916 - No known copyright restrictions 

Harry McKillop and his brother Gordon were both young boys when orphaned in 1902.  Their father Arthur, was killed as a result of a railway accident at Mt Eden in February 1900 and their mother Annie dropped dead on the street, most likely from a heart attack in 1902.  The boys were then taken into the care of their maternal grandmother and raised at 27 Virginia Avenue, Mt Eden.  

After finishing school they sought careers at sea.  Gordon with Huddard, Parker & Co. and Harry with Union Steamship Company.  When war broke out they were keen to enlist despite their young ages.

Harry (the eldest of the two) enlisted first in February 1915 aged 19.  Embarking with the Auckland Infantry Battalion on 13 June 1915.  At Gallipoli he was invalided to hospital in Malta with exhaustion in reality he was most likely suffering shell shock/shell concussion.  His recovery was slow and he was sent to England in September 1915 where he spent time at Bethnal Green Hospital. 

In July 1916 the powers to be decided, he was once again fit for military service and he rejoined his unit with the Auckland Infantry Battalion in Armentieres, France.  Shortly afterwards he was wounded in action on 27 September 1916, receiving a gun shot wound to chest.  He was admitted to the 38th casualty clearing station where he died aged 20, on 6 October 1916.  He is buried at the Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-l'Abbe, Somme, France. 

Meanwhile his younger brother Gordon despite being only 18 years of age had enlisted and embarked on 27 May 1916 arriving in England in July 1916.  Gordon no doubt was looking forward to being reunited with his brother in France.  Sadly however he did not leave for France until late in October 1916, after his brothers death.  Gordon survived the war  and was discharged in April 1920 only 20 years old.  After returning to New Zealand he married and eventually moved to Australia where he died in 1978 aged 80.

In Harry's military record I found a short typed note requesting that in the event of his death a message be sent to his Aunt (Miss L. Ross) asking that:

"If Gordon,  comes back safe give him my ring, watch and pen and tell him to always keep them"

I hope that Harry's wish was carried out and that today they are the treasured possessions of Gordon's descendants.

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