Mervyn Hugh Egerton Gorringe

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Manston, Dorset, England, United Kingdom

General information

Farrier - Shoeing Smith

Army information

New Zealand
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Lance Corporal
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Levin, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
 —  Otago Regiment, 2nd Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Reutel, Beselare, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Polygon Wood Cemetery
Plot: /
Row: D
Grave: 9

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Mervyn Gorringe was born in 1877 and was baptised in Manston, Dorset, England in September 1877. His parents were Peter and Fanny Gorringe. In the 1891 England Census the Gorringe family shows five children.

By 1904 Mervyn was in New Zealand, when he married Margaret Fraser. On the 1905 Electoral Roll he is listed as a farmer at Pohangina, Manawatu. Also on that electoral roll was his older brother Frank, who had been in the area since at least 1896. It seems likely Mervyn emigrated to New Zealand to join his brother. The couple had one son, Donald Frank Gorringe, born in 1906.

Mervyn was working as a farrier when he enlisted in Levin on 4 October 1916 into the 25th Reinforcement, service number 38807. He was an unusually tall man for his time at six feet, four and a quarter inches (1.93m). At 39 years of age he was older than most of his fellow recruits. He was put into an NCO training group, perhaps reflecting his maturity. Because of this, his training period in New Zealand was longer. He served in Trentham and Featherston camps before departing from Wellington on the troop ship Tofua on 26 April 1917, arriving in Devonport on 20 July. On that day he was promoted to lance corporal.

He did additional training at Sling and Codford camps before sailing to France on 26 October 1917. He was briefly posted to 1st Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment but after a week transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Otago Regiment.

The New Zealand Division was in the Polygon Wood area, after the end of the Third Battle of Ypres. Much of the time was spent in wiring, repairing crumbling trenches and improving defences. The landscape was covered with waterlogged shellholes. The right of the New Zealand position was enfiladed from Polderhoek and a decision was made to capture the spur on which the ruins of Polderhoek Chateau and German pillboxes sat.

After the unsuccessful attack on Polderhoek on 3 December 1917, the various battalions took turns in the line and in reserve. Neither the New Zealand Division history or that of the Otago Regiment give detailed information for the December 1917-February 1918 period so it is impossible to say with any certainty how Mervyn Gorringe died. The opposing German forces generally held higher ground and movement in the New Zealand lines was often observed and shelled or machine-gunned.

The 2nd Battalion had its headquarters at the Polygon Butte during the period. The battalion was heavily shelled on 12-13th December and it is possible this caused his death. His company, the 10th, was in reserve, so was behind the front line.

His body was recovered and identified for burial. He is now in Polygon Wood Cemetery, Row D, Grave 9.

Files 1

Sources 7

"Official history of the Otago Regiment, NZEF in the Great War 1914-1918", Byrne AE., Dunedin, J. Wilkie and Co, 1921, pg. 239-241.
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Archives New Zealand
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Auckland Cenotaph
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Auckland Weekly News
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Births deaths marriages New Zealand
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