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83158 Private George Vance Alexander Shannon
 
George Vance Alexander Shannon was born in Marton on the 27th June 1894 the eldest son of Hugh Graham (Hugh)
and Margaret (Maggie) Welford Shannon. As the eldest grandson George was named after his grandfather but was
known in the family as Vance.
 
George Vance Shannon (senior) had emigrated with his family from Ireland 1865. George was an astute businessman, selling software goods from a retail shop in Wellington, later establishing  branches in Auckland, Christchurch and
Napier.  
 
G V Shannon in 1881 became a director of the new formed Manawatu and Wellington
Railway Company that was formed to build a railway from Wellington to Palmerston
North. The private company completed the route in 1886 and the new line opened up
access to large tracks of land between thetwo centres. Four settlements along the line
were named after directors; John Plimmer, William Levin, George Shannon and
James Linton.
 
 
 
G V Shanno's Free Pass for First Class travel issued in 1887
 
 
 
Plimmerton became a favourite beach destination for families from Wellington and
Palmerston North and was known as the ‘Brighton of the South.’ Two of the M & W
directors; John Plimmer and George Shannon established beach houses. John Plimmer
built at the northern end of Steyne Avenue and George Shannon at the southern end
of Shrewsbury Terrace with frontage on the main Plimmerton Beach.
 
 
 
In 1901 G V Shannon purchased the lease of 800 acres of land in Karehana Bay where the family farmed sheep and milked a small herd of cows. The milk was supplied to the residents in the local area. G V’s eldest son Graham Hugh Shannon took up management of the farm.
 
 
 
Maggie with Vance (standing ) and his younger brother Hugh c 1901
 
 
 
 
Vance attended Wellington College from 1907 to 1909 possibly as a boarder.
Vance’s father, Graham Shannon also attended Wellington College.
 
Graham Hugh Shannon died in 1912 and the farm was then managed by another of G V’s sons Trevor Shannon but was then run by Vance.
 
In 1913 the Great Strike took place in New Zealand. The Reform Government of Prime Minister William Massey utilised networks to recruit farmers and rural labourers as mounted special constables to combat the strikers. These special constables were known as ‘Massey’s Cossack’ and were issued with batons and often carried revolvers.
 
One of those who volunteered as a special constable was Vance Shannon. In the history of The Shannon Family it notes Vance as a:[i]
 
‘colourful character and a talented horseman winning many cups in the region. His skills
on horse-back were noted in the newspaper of the day during the big waterfront strike
of 1913 when farmers came down to Wellington to load their products onto the waiting
ships. Vance, under threat from picketing workers; leapt away to safety after clearing an
‘impossibly’ fence.’
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1913 Special Constables, all armed with batons,  in Wellington forming up to charge at srikers.
 
 
The strike ended in December 1913 and Vance returned to farm at Karehana Bay. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 men from Massey’s Cossacks and their opponents the Red Fed’s both enlisted often serving in the same regiments.
Vance tried to enlist in the 1915 but was not selected; there were a number of medical issues. Vance’s younger brother Hugh also enlisted in 1915 and when he sailed for overseas service in January 1916 wrote to Vance:[ii]
 
                ‘15th January 1916  - Somewhere on the Briny
 
Dear Vance,
 
Here I am somewhere, but heaven knows where, will soon find out I suppose. I am sitting on the edge of my bunk writing this note. Well we left Wellington next morning, we went right out the other side of Mana  I could see Plimmerton & the farm through the glasses, I wonder if you were at home, eh, was Ken out with you, & a baby ha ha. . . . .
 . .Well I must get off at the slope hoping you are well,
& you keep free, take my word
 
I remain
 
Your affectionate brother
 
Hugh’
 
Vance Continued to farm at Karehana Bay but in 1916 was conscripted. Vance appealed the conscription and the case
was reported in the Dominion newspaper.[iii]
 
            ‘George V Shannon, farmer, was granted leave. He stated that his
            only brother had gone to the front. He himself was managing his
            mother’s farm of 800 acres at Plimmerton, and the local representative
  of the Efficiency Board had told him to appeal on the grounds that he
 was performing necessary work. He could not find a competent manager
 to take his place. He had enlisted voluntarily in 1915 when assistance
 was available, and had then been rejected.
 the board adjourned the appeal sine die, subject to reconsideration before
The First Division was exhausted.’
 
Vance was finally called up, entering Trentham Camp on the 5th June 1918. His medical records note that he had a weak ankle and also a broken nose both caused by a fall off a horse and also a weak right arm the result of a farm injury. The injuries were considered minor and 83158 Private Shannon was allotted to the 44th Reinforcement. As the war in Europe was going in favour of the Allied Forces, Private Shannon did not go overseas and was discharged without pay on the
1st November 1918.
 
Vance returned to Plimmerton and the family farm but in 1919 for a variety of reasons the Shannon family decided not
to renew the farm lease and Vance moved out of the area to farm in the Wanganui area.
 
Vance married Eileen Sarcich in 1924[iv] the couple had four children. Vance died on the 1st April 1973.
 
Notes:
Descendants of G V Shannon still live in one of the original Plimmerton Beach sections.
 
References:
A Shannon Family from Antrim, Ireland to New Zealand: The Shannon Family Reunion and Book Committee 2000
Shannon Archived Material – Manawatu Library
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 83158 Private George Vance Alexander Shannon
NZ BDM Online
Paperspast Online
NZ History Online – the 1913 Great Strike
Photos
Maggie, Vance and Hugh – Shannon family
Masey’s Cossacks – Alexander Turnbull Library
 
[i] Page 27 Hugh Graham (Graham) Shannon & Family: A Shannon Family
[ii] Shannon Letters Archive Material, Manawatu Library
[iii] Appeals, 21st April 1917, Dominion
[iv] NZ BDM, marriages, Sarcich – Shannon 1924/7400
 
 
1913 Massey's Cossacks in action