The Barrett J. Carr Collection of Boer War Medals

Date of Auction: 22nd July 2016

Sold for £360

Estimate: £220 - £260

Four: Private G. Dignan, 19th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, late 5th and 10th N.Z. Contingents

Queen’s South Africa 1899-1902, no clasp (2676 Tpr. G. Dignan, N.Z.M.R.), renamed; 1914-15 Star (1685 Pte. G. Dignan, 19 Bn. A.I.F.); British War and Victory Medals (1685 Pte. G. Dignan, 19 Bn. A.I.F.), nearly very fine or better (4) £220-260


Gordon Dignan, from Auckland, attested for the 4th N.Z. Contingent but was held in reserve and was actually assigned to the 5th Contingent when embarked in the S.S. Waimate in March 1900. He served in Rhodesia, in addition to other operations, and was invalided home in February 1901. Subsequently re-attesting in ‘A’ Squadron of the 10th N.Z. Contingent, he saw further service in South Africa in May 1902; he had earlier received his Queen’s South Africa Medal at Auckland during the royal visit in June 1901.

Having settled at Manly, Sydney, New South Wales in the interim, Dignan attested for the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915. Assigned to the 19th Battalion, A.I.F., he was embarked for Gallipoli, where he served until being evacuated with a ‘hernia and shock’ in October 1915. Having then rejoined his unit at Alexandria in March 1916, he was embarked for France but, as revealed by his service record, his hernia continued to give him problems. As a consequence, he was evacuated to England in February 1917, where he remained in hospital until July.

Thereafter, as verified by official correspondence, his career took a turn for the worse, for he absented himself from a convalescence camp at Deverill:

‘He has not much of a record in the A.I.F. and was sentenced to two years detention for having been A.W.L. from 30 November 1917 until 15 August 1918, when he surrendered himself after the war was over. He was imprisoned until embarking for return to Australia when the unexpired portion of his sentence was remitted.’

He was finally discharged at Sydney in early 1920, but never returned to his wife and children; she was in contact with the Department of Defence in Melbourne as late as 1928, in an effort to trace him: ‘I have never received any money from him and am finding it extremely difficult to provide for myself and family’; sold with copied research.