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11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid - Wellington Mounted Rifles 

George Henry McDermid was born on 22 April 1890 [i]  in Akitio, a small seaside settlement near Dannevirke.
When George was a small child the McDermid family left the district, possibly for Dunedin,
as George is noted in military papers as serving with the Otago Mounted Rifles prior to 1914.

George Henry McDermid c1904 in uniform of Otago Mounted Rifles 

George Henry McDermid moved back to the Hawkes Bay prior to  August 1914
and working as a labourer at Weber. He was among the first to enlist and on 12 August 1914
entered camp as a Trooper in the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Squadron, Wellington Mounted
Rifles.

On 16 October 1914 11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid departed with the Main Body
of The New Zealand Expeditionary Force for overseas service. Arriving in Egypt in December
1914.[ii] The Wellington Mounted Rifles (WMR), along with other New Zealand and Australian
mounted units, trained along the Suez Canal and provided a defensive element against
threatened Turkish attacks across the canal. However the WMR was to fight as dismounted
infantry in the Gallipoli campaign, with the WMR landing at Gallipoli in May 1915.[iii]

Trooper McDermid was evacuated, in June 1915, with dysentery returning to ANZAC Cove on
10 August 1915 and was immediately engaged in defending the Anzac positions following the Battle of Chunuk Bair. Trooper McDermid was attached to the Machine Gun section of the WMR. Trooper McDermid served alongside Trooper Cobb in the Machinegun section. The WMR along with other New Zealand elements, was evacuated from the peninsula in December 1915.

Following retraining in Alexandria, the WMR was posted to the Suez Canal as part of the ANZAC Mounted Division, which then moved into the Sinai Desert to engage Turkish
forces. In May 1916 Trooper McDermid was evacuated to hospital  with bronchitis and
after a month in hospital was invalided back to New Zealand.  In August 1916 another assessment of Trooper McDermid resulted in him being discharged from the army as
‘a result of illness contracted while on active service.’[iv]



11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid c1916 wearing RSA badge


George McDermid volunteered again for active service on 9 August 1917 and was
passed as physically fit. The shortage of men at the front was becoming a problem and
on 8 August 1917 the New Zealand government made changes to the classification of medical conditions, enabling George McDermid to be classified as Class A and fit for
service both in New Zealand and overseas.  Private McDermid entered Trentham camp joining the 35th Specialist Reinforcements; Private McDermid had requested a posting
to the machine gun section, acknowledging his previous experience with the WMR.

Private McDermid’s service record is not complete but it is possible that he was reassessed in camp and again declared
as unfit.[v]

Following his discharge from the army George McDermid married his first
wife, Agnes Lavenor Maud Rankin in 1917.  They divorced in 1926 and
George remarried in 1928 to Joyce Thelma Sherbrooke. George, now
listed as a boot maker  and carpenter, moved to Plimmerton. 
George Henry McDermid was one of a number of public spirited men
who, aware of the disastrous fires in the Plimmerton Village in the 1920’s
and early 1930’s, met on 7 February 1934 to form a Plimmerton Fire
Brigade. George McDermid was elected as the first Superintendant.  
The early Plimmerton fire alarm was a length of railway iron hung from
a pole outside George McDermid’s house, 3 Motuhara Road which was
struck with an iron bar to sound the alarm.[vi]

The Plimmerton Fire Alarm - Tom Scott cartoon 

With war clouds again forming over Europe, George McDermid was one of a number of Plimmerton ex-servicemen who,
in May 1939 formed the Plimmerton Branch of the Defence League. The Defence League’s aim was to assist the Government in educating the public to the realities of the defence position.[vii]  George McDermid was also involved in
the Legion of Frontiersmen, a Lieutenant in the Hutt Valley Troop, which offered ‘its service to the Government to assist in any scheme of national defence of New Zealand and its Empire.’[viii]

George McDermid at this stage had also enlisted in the National Military Reserve Guard as 2/26/29 Corporal George Henry McDermid. At the outbreak of war in August 1939, Corporal McDermid entered camp and served in the Reserve Guard
until his discharge on 17 May 1940. George McDermid continued to support Home Guard activities with his home in Plimmerton being a recruitment centre for the Home Guard.[ix]  

George McDermid continued with his duties as the Superintendent of the Plimmerton Fire Brigade until
12 February 1942 when he moved to Christchurch.


Plimmerton Fire Brigade 1941


George Henry McDermid is the 7th from the right and his son George McDermid the right hand scout runner the left hand scout runner is Jim Gyton

George Henry’s son George who attended Plimmerton School would later be part of Jay Force, New Zealand’s contribution to the occupation of Japan in 1945.

George Henry McDermid died in Christchurch on the 14th February 1957.[9]

References
NZBDM
Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid
Sand Sea and Sirens- 75 years of fire fighting in Plimmerton 1934-2009: Ross Miller with Russell Postlewaight
NZ History online: Wellngton Mounted Rifles 

Photos
George Henry McDermid aged 14 in uniform of Otago Mounted Rifles C 1904 : McDermid family publication
11/313 Trooper George Henry mcDermid c 1916/1917 : Brian Malone collection
George Henry McDermid's Plimmerton Fire Alarm - Tom Scott cartoon: Plimmerton Fire Brigade
1941 Plimmerton Fire Volunteers: Pataka Museum P-2-106


[i]      NZBDM
[ii]    11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid: Service Record – Archives New Zealand
[iii]   Wellington Mounted Rifles: New Zealand History online
[iv]   11/313 Trooper George Henry McDermid: Service Record – Archives New Zealand
[v]    11/313 Private George Henry McDermid: Service Record – Archives New Zealand
[vi]   Sand Sea and Sirens: 75 years of fire fighting in Plimmerton 1934 – 2009/ Ross Miller with Russell Postlewaight.
[vii   Defence League, 15th May 1939,  Evening Post 
[viii] Defence League, 15th May 1939,  Evening Post 
[ix]   Home Guard, 16th November 1940, Evening Post 
[x]    NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages: NZ Dept Internal Affairs.


1941 Plimmerton Fire Brigade