23/1055 Sergeant Arthur Gordon-Glassford  - NZ Rifle Brigade

On 1st June 1893 Mary Lucilla (nee Halcombe) and James Gordon-Glassford married, both were from Urenui, Taranaki[i]. Their first child Margaret Stanway was born in Urenui on 8th September 1894[ii], their eldest son James Douglas[iii] was born in Urenui on 14th May 1896. Arthur’s birth is recorded at Waitara, Taranaki on 27th April 1898.[iv] It is possible that Arthur’s three younger siblings, Mildred Swainson (1904), Clement John (1908) and William Alexander Gordon-Glassford (1909)[v] were born in Inglewood.

Arthur was raised in Inglewood he was enrolled in the Senior Cadets while at secondary school and as required
registered in Inglewood for Compulsory Military Service[vi]. The Gordon-Glassford family moved to the Levin area in 1912/13 and were farming at “Tawera,” Levin when Arthur enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 29th May 1915.

Arthur’s birthday is registered on his enlistment papers as 5th April 1895[vii] which would have made him 20 but he had adjusted his age as he was in fact just 17.

Arthur entered Trentham Military Camp as 23/1055 Rifleman Arthur Gordon-Glassford, D Company, 1st Battalion,
NZ Rifle Brigade (NZ(R)B). He is recorded as employed as a motor mechanic and working for his father,
James Gordon-Glassford who is listed as his next of kin. Arthur and later his brother James Douglas Gordon-Glassford
were able to enlist because of their sisters[viii].

Following basic training Rifleman Gordon-Glassford left for overseas service on 9th October 1915. On arrival in Egypt,
15th November 1915, Rifleman Gordon-Glassford was admitted to hospital with tonsillitis and did not rejoin his unit
until 8th January 1917. On the 16th January 1917 the NZRB departed Egypt for the Western Front. The initial deployment was the quiet Armentieres sector but the cold spring of France saw Rifleman Gordon-Glassford admitted to hospital,
again, with tonsillitis. The condition was severe enough for him to be evacuated to England and admitted to hospital.  Rifleman Gordon-Glassford was fit enough to return to his unit in France on 19th September 1917. On 7th June 1917 Rifleman Gordon-Glassford was made Temporary Corporal Gordon-Glassford a rank he held for two weeks until a fall
from a bike saw him again in hospital this time with a lacerated arm. Any accidental injury was investigated in case the soldier was trying to avoid serving at the front, in this case the Battle of Messines. Rifleman Gordon-Glassford service record notes ‘accidental injury not to blame, disciplinary action not required.’

Rifleman Gordon-Glassford returned to his unit on 22nd July 1917 and was promoted to
Lance Corporal on 11th August 1917 and Temporary Corporal on 12th October 1917.
The 12th October 1917 was the first day of the Battle of Messines and while
Corporal Gordon-Glassford survived the engagement his older brother
26/445 Rifleman James Douglas Gordon-Glassford, B Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd NZ(R)B 
who was serving in the same company as his brother was killed in action, James’s body
was not recovered.

                                                                  26/445 Rifleman James Douglas Gordon-Glassford

The NZ Division then settled to ‘Wintering in the Ypres Salient’ which took its toll on all
involved. Corporal Gordon-Glassford was admitted, twice, to hospital in early January 1918
with scabies. On 22nd January 1918 Corporal Gordon-Glassford was detached to the
2nd Army Central School remaining there until 18th February 1918. Corporal Gordon-Glassford was promoted to
Sergeant on 15th March 1918. Sergeant Gordon-Glassford was in action in late March when the New Zealand Division
was pushed forward to plug a gap caused by the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael.

On 11th June 1918 Sergeant Gordon-Glassford was detached ‘on duty’ to England,  to be returned to New Zealand on furlough.  Sergeant Gordon-Glassford was attached to the NZ(R)B Reserve Depot, Brocton on 10th July 1918 remaining there until 8th March 1919 when he was embarked on the SS Willochra  for repatriation to New Zealand. On board the Willochra Sergeant Gordon-Glassford was examined by a medical board on 11th April 1918 where a ‘debility’ was assessed. The cause of the disability was given as strain and pressure while on active service which had resulted in Sergeant
Gordon-Glassford showing signs of weakness being tired and anaemic – (signs of “shell shock.”)  It was recommended
that Sergeant Gordon-Glassford be sent to Hospital at Rotorua when the SS Willochra landed at Auckland.

Sergeant Gordon-Glassford was reassessed in Auckland on 26th July 1919, his admittance to Rotorua had been delayed
by appendicitis. The assessment was of ‘debility,’ caused by overseas conditions, which reduced his ability to work by
30%. The board recommended two months treatment followed by light work.  A final assessment was made at Rotorua
on 20th May 1919 which noted ‘debility ’ a ‘extensive history of (undecipherable) Stress and Strain of Active Service.’ The condition was expected to keep the soldier from service for three months, with a recommendation that Sergeant Gordon-Glassford be discharged.

On 23rd August 1919 23/1055 Sergeant Arthur Gordon-Glassford
was discharged ‘ on account of illness contracted on active service.’

Arthur returned to civilian life returning to his parents and siblings
in Levin. Arthur signed for his medals at “Tawera” but his military file
notes on 13th February 1929 that he was a patient at Porirua Mental
Hospital. It is probably that Arthur was institutionalised for the rest
of his life dying in Porirua on 7th July 1967 and is buried in the
old Porirua Cemetery.

26/445 Rifleman James Douglas Gordon-Glassford, B Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd NZ(R)B

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
Ancestry,com (Gordon-Glassford)
Porirua Cemetery Records online
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Rifleman James Douglas Gordon-Glassford: Auckland Cenotaph Database
Grave 23/1055 Sergeant Arthur Gordon-Glassford: Melanie 
Reinforcements moving up 13th October 1917: Royal RSA collection - National Library 

[i]     Marriage, 1st June 1893, Taranaki Herald
[ii]    NZ BDM
[iii]   Roll of Honour, 3rd November 1917, Horowhenua Chronicle
[iv]   Ancestry: Elliott family (Arthur Gordon-Glassford)
[v]    NZ BDM
[vi]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 23/1055 Sergeant Arthur Gordon-Glassford
[vii]  Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 23/1055 Sergeant Arthur Gordon-Glassford
[viii] Personal, 9th November 1917, Taranaki Daily News
NZ Reinforcements move up 13th October 1917