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George Covell Jackson, 1889 - 1915

George Jackson died on 5 June 1915 from wounds received in fighting at Gallipoli. He was aged 25. He is buried at Ari Burnu Cemetery, Turkey.

George was born in Wanganui on 31 June 1889. His parents were Ellen and George Ernest Jackson. He went to Wanganui Collegiate School where he was successful academically, winning prizes throughout his school years. He was also an enthusiastic athlete, competing in distance running and field events. He played rugby and was a key member of the school First Fifteen. At the end of 1908 he passed the national junior scholarship examination with credit. At school he was a prefect in his final year, a member of the cadet force and secretary of the school Navy League. He represented the school in shooting from 1906 to 1908.

From Wanganui he moved to Wellington in 1909 where he attended Victoria University College and studied for BA and LLB degrees. He was prominent in student affairs over the next few years. The Victoria College Review, The Spike, described his contribution: "By virtue of his strong and upright (if somewhat unbending) character and of his extraordinary physical and mental energy he immediately became a force at Victoria University College, and he left his mark on his generation."

Jackson quickly made his mark in rugby, becoming a member of the Victoria College First Fifteen in his first year. He represented the College in athletics at Easter Tournaments throughout his university career, competing in distance running and shot putting and throwing the hammer. He also boxed, winning the heavyweight championship of the Victoria College Boxing Club. His Army medical examination record says he was 5 ft 10 inches in height (1.79 metres) and weighed 160 pounds (72.5 kg).

Outside sports he was also very active. He was an enthusiastic if unsuccessful orator, competing in the Plunket Medal in 1911 and 1912. He spoke on General Gordon in 1911 and in 1912 his subject was Jean Jacques Rousseau. Covell was unplaced both years, the Evening Post commenting in 1912: "There were, in parts of Mr Jackson's speech ... some passages of literary merit; but the speaker's delivery was not good." The extent of his involvement in student affairs was shown in 1912 when he was secretary to the Victoria College Students' Association, financial secretary to The Spike, treasurer of the Debating Society, on the committees of the Athletic and Boxing Clubs, and part of the Victoria College team at the Easter Tournament.

Jackson didn't neglect his studies and was capped with his BA on 28 June 1912. In May 1913 he passed the final examination for admission as a solicitor, but he did not complete his LLB. According to The Spike "he sacrificed the final LLB examination in 1913 to take his place as special constable on the Auckland wharf!". 

Admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court in 1913 Jackson moved to Hamilton, where he set up in legal practice with F de la Mere. The firm of de la Mere and Jackson operated from McGuire's Buildings in Victoria Street. Known to everyone as "Froggie", de la Mere volunteered in 1916, was gravely wounded at Passchendaele and returned to practise in Hamilton in 1920.

Jackson enlisted on the outbreak of war. By 19 August 1914 the Waikato Times named him among hundreds of men from the Waikato contingent who were "under canvas" in the Auckland training camp. Jackson embarked as a Trooper with the Auckland Mounted Rifles from Wellington on 16 October 1914, arriving at Suez in Egypt on 3 December 1914. He was based in Egypt for the next few months, being admitted to hospital with heat stroke from 6 to 9 April 1915. On 25 April 1915 he was part of the landing at Gallipoli, receiving a slight scalp wound in the initial fighting. On 5 June he was severely wounded by shrapnel and died from his wounds on the beach at Anzac Cove three hours later.

On news of his death he was remembered during a sitting of the Hamilton Supreme Court: "Mr HT Gillies made feeling reference to the loss the profession had sustained in the death of Mr Jackson. Mr Justice Cooper said that he could reciprocate the expressions of sympathy on behalf of the Bench. His Honour remarked there was hardly a family in the whole of New Zealand that had not suffered as a result of the war." (New Zealand Herald, 19 June 1915, page 9).

George Jackson is remembered on the Piopio War Memorial, the Hamilton First World War Memorial, and on the Hamilton District Law Society memorial. Three years after his death a nephew was born and named after him. On 30 November 1941, 23-year-old Private George Covell Jackson was killed in action in the Western Desert. 

Sources: Wanganui Chronicle, 18 December 1907, page 7; Wanganui Chronicle, 22 April 1908, page 8; Wanganui Herald, 16 December 1908, page 3; Dominion, 18 September 1911, page 6; Evening Post, 28 June 1912, page 8; Evening Post, 23 September 1912, page 3; New Zealand Herald, 23 May 1913, page 4; Waikato Times, 8 January 1914, page 4; Waikato Times, 19 August 1914, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 19 June 1915, page 9; Auckland Weekly News, 24 June 1915; The Spike, War Memorial Number, 1920, page 27. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz

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Last updated on the 12th January 2015