GEORGE WILLIAM DINES – Fairlie War Memorial leads a grandson to claim a descendant’s WW1 medal for his grandfather.

23/38 – GEORGE WILLIAM DINES – KIA Somme, France    

A Victory Medal found in the effects of a pensioner who had died alone in a Christchurch flat, was reunited with the recipient’s  descendant family this week.  The Victory Medal was one of three medals together with a Memorial Plaque and Scroll that had been sent to Sgt. George Dines’ parents of Fairlie, South Canterbury.  Was it is possible that George Dines and the late Alf Kimberley knew each other or had maybe served together overseas, or could Mr Kimberley simply have found the Victory Medal – a second-hand shop, at a market or the like – we will never know. 

The TV One ‘Good Sorts’ programme that aired in May this year and featured our work of returning war medals to families, and a conversation between grandson and grandfather, were both instrumental to the successful outcome of this case.

Cameron is a student at the John McGlashen College in Dunedin, the son of champion NZ blade shearer Tony Dobbs and wife Julie, who live at Fairlie.  During a recent home visit Cameron had called on his grandfather, Arthur B. Dobbs (known as Barrie) and one of the topics of conversation centred around the commemorations that were being observed for the various WW1 battles in France and Belgium.   Grandfather Barrie happens to live overlooking the Fairlie Primary School which has standing inside of its front gate, a flagstaff memorial donated by the Sth. Canterbury Education Board in 1917, bearing the names of former pupils who had served during WW1.  During their conversation Barrie happened to mention to Cameron that his (Barrie’s) great-uncle George’s name was on the memorial.  Cameron was fascinated and wanted to know more.  Barrie’s great-uncle was George William Dines, a resident of Fairlie who left his home town in 1915, one of the many freshly trained and readied soldiers prepared to fight for King and Country on the other side of the world.  As the train pulled out of the Fairlie station for Timaru, the Dines family and friends gathered to wish George ‘God’s speed’ and ‘safe travels’ as they waved him goodbye through their tears, a scene repeated all over New Zealand.  It would be the last time George and his family would see each other.

Fairlie War Memorial

Fairlie School with War Memorial near gate.








Not long after their discussion Cameron happened to see the ‘Good Sorts’ program that aired on TV One on May 28th  which featured the work of MRNZ.  Cameron followed this up by taking a look at our website and in particular checked the Lost Trails page of the website.  To Cameron’s surprise he discovered that we were looking for descendants of the very same person his grandfather Barrie had spoken of – George William Dines. 


George William Dines was born in Fairlie on 15 June 1894, a twin to his brother John Henry Dines, the sons of George William Dines (Snr) and their mother Elizabeth Ann RICHMOND. 

George and John Dines had an older sister in Lillian Maud JACKSON and two younger sisters, Flora Richmond HAY and Grace Elizabeth GRIEVES.  The Dines, predominantly farmers, who lived in and around the Fairlie region were numerous in the early part of last century – today there are none.

George Dines (Jnr) was schooled at both the Fairlie Primary School, and Kimbell Primary (no longer) about 10 km west of Fairlie on the Fairlie-Tekapo highway.  George worked on various farms apart from his fathers and had shown a keen interest in machinery from an early age.  Following his schooling George became a motor mechanic at Jones and Laing’s garage in Fairlie.   As for military experience like most schools of the time George had been required to join the School Cadets.  You either loved it or hated it – George took to it and once he had finished his schooling continued his interest by joining the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment, a mounted territorial unit in which he served for nine months prior to answering his King and Country’s “call to arms”.

7/38 Sgt. George W. Dines, 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade – c1916

23/38 Rflm. George Wiiliam Dines George was 20 years of age when he  enlisted in the NZEF on 27 April 1915.  His prior experience resulted in his immediate appointment as a Temporary Sergeant in ‘A’ Company of the 1st Battalion Trentham Regiment whilst undergoing basic training at Trentham Camp.  George obviously proved he was capable of handling his temporary rank and so retained it.  On 19 October Sgt. Dines and the remainder of the 1st Bn, NZ Rifle Brigade Advance Party embarked HMNZT 29 Waitemata at Wellington and sailed for Suez.  

It was mid December 1915 when the Waitemata arrived at Suez where the Brigade disembarked to await further orders.  On 20 Dec the Brigade re-embarked for Marsa Matruh on the Mediterranean Coast, about 210 kms east of Alexandria, a distance of only about 250 kms however the Brigade was not disembarked until 17 February 1916 – almost a month waiting at sea!  Here the Brigade would stay until April 6th, 1916 by which time the unit had been re-designated the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade (NZRB), and once more embarked, this time for France.  After some orientation and training at the NZ Reception Camp at Etaples, the 3rd NZRB moved into the line to prepare and rehearse for their first major offensive action which would be the Battle of Flers-Coucelette (part of the Battle of the Somme) on 15 September 1916.  It would also be the first battle in which tanks were used on the battlefield – the British Mark I “Male” tank.  The 3rd NZRB took Flers Trench and Flat Iron Trench after being held up by barbed wire entanglements until a tank arrived to help.  Being a new concept in trench warfare, the use of tanks to support infantry produced mixed results; many broke down, but nearly a third succeeded in breaking through. 

British Mk 1 “Male” Tank at Flers-Coucelette, Somme – Sep 1916. Courtesy Imperial War Museum

At the end of the first day of battle Sgt. George Dines was listed as one of the many New Zealanders who had been reported “missing, believed killed”.  Sgt. George Dines’ body was never found and a subsequent Court of Inquiry convened to investigate the circumstances of all unaccounted soldiers declared him to have been Killed In Action on 15 September 1916.  Sgt. Dines was 22 years of age.

23/38 Sgt. George William Dines has no known grave.  His service and sacrifice is commemorated on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme together with 200 other NZ soldiers who were to die in this battle.

Awards:   1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal & Memorial Plaque & Scroll

Service Overseas:   343 days

Total NZEF Service:   1 year 142 days



 7/39 Sgt. ~ Lt. John Henry Dines was George’s twin brother and somewhat more fortunate than his brother. Also a farmer at Fairlie, John had been called up for service well before his brother, enlisting on 16 Oct 1914 at Timaru.  John had joined the 10th Squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (part of the Main Body which would embark with the first units for the front).  As is now known instead of heading to England and France, these units were re-directed to Egypt for preparatory training prior to the Gallipoli Landing on  25 April 1915.  After gong ashore at Gallipoli Sgt. Dines managed to remain injury free until a gunshot wound to his chest during an assault on Hill 60 on 26th August 1915 bought him down.  He was evacuated to NZ Stationary Hospital No. 1 at Alexandria, Egypt.  By the end of October he was fit enough to return to duty at the front.  It was decided to retain him in Egypt and so was promoted to Sergeant Major (WO2) of the CMR Mounted Training Regiment. By August 1916 Sgt. Maj. Dines had been appointed the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in Egypt, with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1).

WO1 John Dines then underwent a commissioning course in London, returning to Egypt as a 2nd Lieutenant  with the 38th NZ Mounted Rifles reinforcements in October 1917.  Promoted to Lieutenant in Nov 1918  Lt. Dines was plagued with recurrent bouts of Malaria and so was invalided back to NZ aboard the HMNZT Devon in April 1919.  7/39 Lt. John Henry Dines was discharged from the NZEF in Dec 1919 after 3 years 320 days overseas; a total of 5 years 142 days NZEF service. 

That was not the end for John Dines – 821076 Lt. John Dines re-enlisted at the age of 45 for service during WW2 in Nov 1939 – Oct 1944.  Fit for Home Service only he was first appointed as a Company Commander in the 3rd Armoured Regiment, and later promoted to Captain in the NZ Temporary Staff as Company Commander of the Training Battalion at Burnham Camp.  Capt. John Dines NZTS married Gertrude PILBROW; he died in Christchurch in August 1973, aged 79 years.


The irony of this particular case is that some 10 years ago when whilst I was still serving, I decided to sell my collection of militaria that had accumulated over some 37 years of service.  Within my collection were three Memorial Plaques, one of which was named to George William Dines!  I was down to the last few items to sell including a bayonet collection which I had advertised on Trade-Me.  It was not long before a buyer rang me, a militaria enthusiast from Temuka or Timaru I seem to recall.  He drove up to my house in Waltham, was happy with the bayonet collection purchase and as we chatted about militaria generally, I offered him the Dines Memorial Plaque as a gift for taking the complete collection!  If only I knew then that I would be reuniting medals now, and have just had George Dine’s Victory Medal come through my hands ….. hind sight is a wonderful thing isn’t it ? 

If the gentleman to whom I sold my bayonet collection in Christchurch around 2005, and also gave George William Dines memorial plaque (‘Death Penny / Death Plaque’) should read this, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.


Cameron and his grandfather are thrilled to at least have George’s Victory Medal at home in Fairlie – if anyone knows the whereabouts of George Dines’ 1914-15 Star and British War Medal (or Memorial Plaque) so that Cameron could reunite George’s medals, I would be most grateful for a phone call or email.

The reunited medal tally is now 167.