Mjr JP Overton NZEF

Major Percy John OVERTON
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Major Percy John (Queen's South Africa Medal & 3 Clasps. King's South Africa Medal & 2 Clasps. Mentioned in Despatches)

No. 7/506, 1st (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry) Sqn., Canterbury Mounted Rifles, New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Born 3rd February 1877 at Christchurch, New Zealand
[Birth certificate: 1877 562 (Christchurch dist. Mar qtr), NZ]

Educated: Christ's College, Christchurch NZ

Married; Sheep Farmer, of Greta, Scargill, Christchurch, North Canterbury, NZ

Next of Kin listed as: Wife; Hilda Margaret Overton, of Greta, Scargill, Christchurch, North Canterbury, NZ

Photos of Major Overton are known to exist in the following locations:
Powles p52. Waite p216†. Otago Witness 1 Sep 1915 p42. Group photo Canterbury Times 2 Sep 1914 p38. Group photo Otago Witness 8 Sep 1915 p45. Group photo* Auckland Weekly News 24 Sep 1914 p45. Auckland Weekly News 23 Dec 1915 p39

Killed in Action
7th August 1915
in the Aghyl Dere,
below Chunuk Bair, northern Anzac sector
Aged 38

1st (CYC) Sqn., Canterbury MR.

1st (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry) Sqn.,
Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF

Celer et Audax
(Swift and Bold)

7th Field Ambulance cemetery


* Group photo captioned 'Veterans of the South African war in Egypt.'
† Photo of Major Overton's original grave under a tree in the northern Anzac sector.

Fought in South African (Boer) War, 1900 - 02. Vet and Zand Rivers, Cape Colony, Transvaal; Mentioned in despatches, 25th April 1902. (Canterbury Times 25 Aug 1915 p32).

7th NZ Contingent No. 24 Company (Canterbury Section). Ex Wellington on SS Gulf of Taranto 6 April 1901.

'He also fought in Cape Colony, in the Transvaal, and on the Zululand frontier of Natal.' (Oamaru Mail 19 Aug 1915 p5).
Boer War - Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry (Marlborough Express, 21 Aug 1915 p6)

Lieutenant Overton, Percy John, Sheep farmer. 263 Hereford Street, Christchurch. Father; Charles Overton, 263 Hereford Street, Christchurch. (NZ Contingents in the South African War 01. A. 9.]

Eldest son of Charles Overton, of 24 Hereford St, Christchurch. Youngest brother, Lance Corporal Guy Stanley Overton, died of wounds 'a few days ago'. (Canterbury Times 25 Aug 1915 p32). [See also for details of G.S. Overton, Christ's College School List p156].

'The messages announcing the deaths of the two brothers were received by the parents within a few hours of each other.' Leaves a widow 'and family.' (Southland Times 21 Aug 1915 p9 & Marlborough Express, 21 Aug 1915 p6)

Attended 'Worthy's' and 'Andrews's', Christ's College, Christchurch, January 1892 - 1894. No. 1542. Son of Charles Overton, of Swannanoa. Corporal in New Zealand 2nd contingent to the Boer War. Lieutenant in 7th contingent, Mentioned in despatches; Captain in 9th contingent, awarded Queen's Medal with 3 clasps and King's Medal. Lieutenant in the Amuri Mounted Rifles, 1906. Major, North Canterbury Mounted Battalion; Major, Main Body, New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Great War. Killed in action at Gallipoli, 11th August, 1915 [sic]. (Christ's College School List p146). (Flower p202).

In charge of the scouting parties that carried out many dangerous and daring reconnaisances of the country to the north of the Anzac position, in preparation for the planned August assault on Chunuk Bair and the Sari Bair range.

Recconoitred the route for the attack on the Sari Bair Range, directed the Australian, Gurkha, Indian and New Zealand units through the 'dark maze of gullies'. Killed in the early morning of 7th August when at the head of the column of attcking troops:
'At dawn, on one such ridge near the last fork of the Aghyl Dere, this very gallant officer was killed.' (Bean V2 p180-2, 185-7, 457, 461, 586-7, 589, 591, 593, [killed 594 quoted], 635, mentioned 188, 194, 195, 197, 456, 463, 583, 654).

'He was killed while leading the Left Assaulting Column through the broken country in the Aghyl Dere, and was buried in Warley Gap, where the Turkish track he had been so ably following winds up towards Abdel Rahman Bair.' (Powles p51).

Major Overton's body was exhumed in 1919 and moved to the 7th Field Ambulance cemetery.

Lest We Forget

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