George Scrimgeour was born in Waipawa and later came to Masterton with his father, who was a hotelkeeper and had taken up the licence of the Club Hotel.

Scrimgeour became very sick with pneumonia in 1912 and was hospitalised for a period of time before he made a recovery.

He also played hockey, representing the Excelsior club and Wairarapa in several matches.

After school he went to work at the Wairarapa Farmers’ Co-operative Association (WFCA).

He signed up for service just after the declaration of war and went with the first body of New Zealand troops, which were sent first to Egypt for training and then on to Gallipoli.

Two days after landing at Gallipoli he was shot in the left arm and was sent to a hospital in Cairo to recover.

At the end of May he was released and sent back to Gallipoli, arriving there in early June.

In July, Scrimgeour was resting with his platoon in a bomb-proof shelter, which included fellow Masterton man William Masters Bannister.

The shelter was designed to be a safe zone away from the dangers of artillery.

It proved to be an adequate refuge from enemy shells, but this was not the case for friendly fire.

While the men were resting, a shell fired by an allied gun landed in the vicinity.

The shock wave of the explosion caused the shelter to collapse and Scrimgeour was trapped under the structure, along with five other members of his platoon.

In a letter home he wrote of the experience, saying “a big beam of wood fell right across my thigh, and I could not move or breathe.

“It was awful, and I thought my days were numbered. Another minute and I must have been crushed to death, for I could not stand the strain much longer, but the boys soon got to work and rescued us.

“It was worse than being shot. The sensation was rotten, and I don’t want another like it.”

Scrimgeour was evacuated to a hospital ship, which dropped him off at the Greek island of Lemnos.

He was then sent to a hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, where he spent another month.

After this it was decided that he was no longer fit for service and he sailed for New Zealand in September.

He arrived back in Masterton in November and was invited to a gathering hosted by managers and staff of the WFCA.

He initially had no idea what happened to William Bannister, but was to be reunited with his friend in 1918 at his wedding, where Scrimgeour appeared as best man.

George Scrimgeour was married to Kathleen Gawne in 1928, and died in 1962, aged 72.

– Mark Pacey