top of page

8/1173 Lt-Col. George Mitchell DSO

Exceptional DSO Group to Lt-Col. George 'Hoppy' Mitchell NZMR/NZEF

  • Exceptional group to Lt-Col. George Mitchell DSO, charger at New Zealand Hill in January 1900, wounded at Gallipoli in 1915, recipient of the Distinguished Service Order and Serbian Order of Karageorge 3rd Class. This is one of the most significant and historically important NZMR/NZEF medal groups to come onto the market in recent years. The following write-up is just a brief overview of a much larger story that could fill a book.


    George Mitchell's lengthy service with the New Zealand Military Forces is well-documented. Born at Balclutha in 1877, Mitchell joined the Clutha Mounted Rifles in 1898 and was selected for the First Contingent, NZMR, for service in South Africa. Present at the charge of the New Zealanders at New Zealand Hill in January 1900, arguably the most famous action, in terms of New Zealand's involvement, during the war. "Captain Madock about this stage called for a charge and, with Lieutenant Hughes, Sergt Gourlay, Troopers Connell, Dickenson, Mitchell, and Wilson, and a lance corporal of the Yorks, dashed over the crown of the left corner of the hill. The glint of the steel settled the business. The stormers promptly bolted, but before our men had got ten yards they came into line with the Boer covering fire, and poor Gourlay and Connell fell - one dead and the other mortally wounded."


    Completed his tour of duty in South Africa, returning for a second tour with the 8th Contingent in 1902, and was Mentioned in Desptaches "for loyal service' (L.G. 29/6/1902). Rose throught the ranks of the Volunteer/Territorial system between the wars. Sailed with the 2nd Reinforcements, NZEF in December 1914 as Major, 8th (Southland) Company, Otago Infantry Battalion. During the attack on Dead Man's Ridge on 2nd May 1915 Mitchell fell and badly broke several ribs. Was still in pain when he was wounded in the foot during the attack on Chunuk Bair in August 1915, thus earning his nickname 'Hoppy'. Lt-Col. Athelstan Moore wrote this of Mitchell: "Major George Mitchell, of Invercargill, who is now badly wounded, is an awfully good fellow. He has pluck—any amount—but he has also grit. You know he wasn't wounded the first time - he fell and broke some ribs—not in front, but right round at the back, near the spine. When he came back he was still bent sideways, and had to be bandaged up awfully tightly. Well, in the night of August 6-7 he fainted twice during the advance —from exhaustion, or, for what we know, pain. I was too busy to take any notice of him. More hills had to be taken, and incidentally 200 prisoners—all this very exhausting work. I was not too busy to see Mitchell leading his men in a most brilliant charge in the grey dawn, and yet he must have been "done" to the world. There must be an awful lot of go in a man like that."


    Subsequently promoted to lieutenant-colonel and appointed to the command of the Base Depot at Etaples. Was a central figure in the handling of New Zealand conscientious objectors including Archibald Baxter. Awarded Order of Karageorge 4th Class (unique to the NZEF) and in 1918 was made a member of the Distiguished Service Order. Led the 2nd NZ Entrenching Battalion in 1918.


    After the war Mitchell was elected Member of Parliament for South Wellington in 1919 (losing his seat in 1922). He was a member of Wellington City Council and chairman of Wellington Harbour Board; a chairman of the Board of Governors of Wellington Colleges; president of the Wellington SPCA; a board member and sometime chairman of the Wellington Free Ambulance Board. He acted on behalf of numerous war relief and ex-service organisations. George Mitchell DSO died 16th March 1939 and is buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington.


    Medal group is all correctly named. The DSO is missing the top bar and the Order of Karageorge has some minor chipping to the enamel.


    DSO (GV), Queen's South Africa Medal w/clasps 'Paardeberg', 'Driefontein', 'Relief of Kimberley', 'Transvaal', 'South Africa 1902' (160 Pte G. MITCHELL, N. Z'LAND M.R.), 1914/15 Star (8/1173 LT-COL. G. MITCHELL. N.Z.E.F.), British War Medal (8/1173 LT-COL. G. MITCHELL. N.Z.E.F.), Victory Medal (8/1173 LT-COL. G. MITCHELL. N.Z.E.F.), King George V Jubilee Medal 1935, Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal (LIEUT-COL . G. MITCHELL. D.S.O. 8TH (SOUTHLAND) REGT. (1918)), NZ Long and Efficient Service Medal (MAJOR G. MITCHELL, 8TH (SOUTHLAND) REGT (1915)), NZ Volunteer Service Medal (MAJOR G. MITCHELL, 4TH BATTN OTAGO RIFLES (1914)), Order of Karageorge, 4th Class with Swords (Serbia)


    Note, this medal group is currently held in Australia.

bottom of page