Captain George Arthur DEPLEDGE
George Arthur DEPLEDGE was born at Encounter Bay on 14 August 1883, the fifth child of William DEPLEDGE and Charlotte Eliza DEPLEDGE (nee stimson) and was educated at the Victor Harbor public school. Prior to World War One, he served as a sergeant in the militia forces with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. When hostilities were declared he applied for a commission in the AIF and was appointed to the rank of Second Lieutenant in A Squadron of the Regiment.
The Regiment embarked on 12 February 1915 on the HMAT A26 Armadale from Melbourne and arrived in Egypt on 14 March 1915. The unit was initially based at Mena and in late April moved to the racecourse at Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. The high number of casualties at Gallipoli needed to be replaced and the Regiment embarked from Alexandria and arrived at ANZAC Cove (as a dismounted unit) on 21 May 1915 and was positioned at Walker’s Ridge. 2Lt DEPLEDGE was promoted to Lieutenant on 1 June 1915.
The Regiment was engaged in heavy fighting and was regularly rotated in and out of the front line although there were no safe places at Gallipoli due to enemy shelling. The Regiment’s first casualties were sustained on 29 May when two men were killed and two wounded from Turkish attacks and from thereon the casualties continued to mount in a war of attrition. In an attack on Hill 60 on 27 August, the Regiment suffered fifty percent casualties.
Following the withdrawal of the Allied forces from Gallipoli in December, the Regiment returned to Egypt. In April 1916 Lt. DEPLEDGE transferred to the 25 Howitzer Brigade (114th Battery) of the 5th Divisional Artillery and embarked for France on 18 June 1916 arriving at Marseille where they entrained to the front. Now assigned to the 115th Battery, 25th Field Artillery Brigade, based at Fleurbaix near Armentieres, Lt. DEPLEDGE was second in command of the Battery. The Brigade provided artillery support to the infantry operating against the enemy and each side targeted the other’s artillery in an effort to knock them out. The enemy barrages were a constant reminder that the front was not far away and casualties from the shellings mounted.
Due to mounting casualties and lack of reinforcements from Australia, the 25th Brigade was later absorbed into the 13th Field Artillery Brigade which then moved to the Guillemont-Ginchy area, near Albert. By December 1917 the northern winter had set in and infantry operations slowed down, however the artillery forces on each side continued to launch barrages against each other. On 4 March 1917 the enemy shelled the forward areas and Lt. DEPLEDGE was wounded in the eye by a shell fragment and was evacuated the next day but returned to his unit two weeks later. Later in the year he was transferred to the 14th Field Artillery Brigade and by April 1918, the Brigade was near Corbie where they continued to be heavily engaged in support of the infantry. Enemy aircraft raids and gas shelling caused further casualties and on 24 April, in the Battle for Villers-Bretonneux, six soldiers of the Battery were killed and 39 wounded when enemy barrages hit the Brigade.
Lt DEPLEDGE continued to serve at the front and was promoted to captain on 10 November 1918. After the armistice he remained in the field until early January 1919 when he was transferred to London. Capt DEPLEDGE embarked for Australia on the Derbyshire and arrived home on 2 March 1919.
After demobilisation, George married Henrietta Perrin, a nurse who had served in Egypt and Gallipoli. They farmed near Waitpinga for 27 years and George served as a councillor on the District Council of Encounter Bay. He served in the 4th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps in World War Two as a private soldier (enlisted 23 April 1942, discharged 21 September 1943, serial number S65330). George and Henrietta retired to Victor Harbor in 1949 and owned the house that now forms part of Ross Robertson Memorial Nursing Home; they sold the house to William and Florence ROBERTSON who later donated the property to Elderly Citizen’s Homes Inc in memory of their late son, Flight Sergeant Ross Lange ROBERTSON, who was killed in a flying battle over Germany on 25 March 1944.
George Arthur DEPLEDGE died on 5 December 1953 and is buried in the Victor Harbor Cemetery.
Service file of George Arthur DEPLEDGE downloaded from the National Archives of Australia ( www.naa.gov.au ).
Australian War Memorial database ( www.awm.gov.au ).
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, February 2009.