George L D Cobb

George Lynch Darby Cobb 3/2544
New Zealand Medical Corps

20 January 1897 -  27 May 1917

Lynch was the son of my great uncle Alfred Cobb.
Lynch's father and John (Jack) Wesley Cobb 
(who is also remembered on this blog) were brothers.

I have researched the following information about Lynch
from his military records and other related texts. 
I have endeavored to record the story 
of his involvement in the war as accurately as possible.

Click here to see a family tree 
showing Lynch's immediate family. 
(Note that some dates and information given
are incorrect. Also, it was Lynch's brother,
 also named George, who married Evie.)

Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19170628-41-6

George, known as Lynch, was the fourth child of Alfred John (1869 - 3 February 1962) and Laura Estella Cobb (1870-1943, nee Goldfinch). He was born in Palmerson North on 20 January 1897 and was affectionately named after his grandfather George Lynch Darby Goldfinch (1822 - 7 April 1904). Lynch was one of ten children:
  • Alfred Leonard Goldfinch Cobb (January 1893 - 16 November 1893). Cause of death unknown.
  • Harry Clarence (Clarry) Cobb (31 August 1894 - 20 February 1977) 
  • Ruth Olive Hogan (21 September 1896 - 17 August 1950) 
  • George Lynch Darby Cobb (20 January 1897 - 27 May 1917)
  • Alfred Leonard (Len) Cobb (12 October 1898 - 19 July 1954) 
  • Grace Victoria Main (1900 - 1996) 
  • Robert Edward Cobb (1901 - 1952) 
  • George Gregory Cobb (20 April 1905 - 1961) 
  • Ila Mavis Jean Palmer (Mavis) (1909 - 1993) 
  • Eva Day Cobb (1915 - 14 August 1916) Eva died of diphtheria, aged 18 months.

Lynch is the second from the left in this family photo.
From left are Laura (his mother), Lynch, Clarence (at back), Ruth and Alfred (his father).

The children of Alf and Laura from left: 
Robert, Ruth, Clarry (back), George (standing at front), 
Len (seated centre), Lynch and Grace.

Lynch and his siblings attended the Campbell Street School, which was once the largest school in the district. Lynch was very popular with the teachers and students there because of his cheerful disposition.

The Campbell Street School
Photographer unknown. Taken around 1900.
Photo from Palmerston North City Library

The Cobb family attended the Salvation Army Church. Alfred, the father was a Sergeant-Major in the church. By all accounts, his children were well-versed in the Bible and most of them, including Lynch, won prizes at the 1911 annual prize-giving, as the following newspaper article explains.

Article image

Manawatu Standard, Volume XLI, Issue 9450, 24 February, 1911, pg 2

A similar article about the successes of Lynch and his siblings at the Salvation Army Church during 1912 was also published in the Manawatu Standard, Volume XLI, Issue 9705, 5 January 1912, pg6.

While at school in March 1911, Lynch, aged 14, sustained a severely cut lip during a game of hockey. This was the second time he needed stitches on his lip. His story was mentioned in the Manawatu Standard, (Volume XLI, Issue 9478, 29 March, 1911, pg4) as follows,

Article image

Lynch was a 19 year old cabinet maker working for Kells and Pike in Palmerston North when he enlisted for service in the war on 7 June, 1916. It is likely that he was still living at home with his parents who were living in Carroll Street at the time.

Lynch departed from King's Wharf, Wellington on the hospital ship Marama on 10 November, 1916 serving as a medical orderly with the New Zealand Medical Corps. He made one return journey to New Zealand when the ship brought back patients from the front line. He left New Zealand on the Marama for the second time, on 22 March, 1917.

Lynch is mentioned as below in the list of medical orderlies on board the Marama.

Article image

In March 1917 it was deemed unsafe to sail through the Mediterranean the ship stopped in Suez where the nurses were asked to disembark while the ship continued on a revised course towards Cape Town, South Africa, then on to New Zealand. Lynch and the other orderlies on the ship took over the roles of the nurses on this voyage.  

On 26-27 May, 1917 there was a severe storm while the ship was sailing between Durban and Cape Town, South Africa.  At 8:35am on 27 May, 1917, a freak wave swept over the ship. Lynch, who was reported to be emptying some rubbish over the port side of the promenade deck, and a patient, reported to be Lieutenant C S Harrington (from the Connaught Rangers of the Irish Regiment of the British Army, and Sergeant Leaman (from the Manchester Regiment of the British Army), were all washed overboard. Lynch and Lieutenant Harrington (both aged 20) were drowned, but Sergeant Leaman was miraculously carried back onto the deck of the ship by another wave. Apparently, a life buoy was thrown over, the ship's whistle sounded and a search conducted for two hours for the two missing men, but there was no sign of life. Several others were injured during this incident, which is mentioned in Chapter 7 of the book The War Effort of New Zealand (p136) and also in the book, The Voyages of His Majesty's New Zealand Hospital Ships Marama and Maheno

A Court of Inquiry was held on 28 May 1917 and it found that no one was to blame for the deaths of Lieutenant Harrington and Private Cobb. 

A family document states that when Laura was told that her son Lynch had drowned, she already knew as she had received a vision. The document mentions two seashells which Lynch had brought back on first voyage abroad.

Lynch was reported drowned in Roll of Honour, Fallen New Zealanders, in the NZ Herald Volume LIV Issue 16554, 1 June 1917, pg 6.

Lynch's death was announced in the Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 43, 1 June, 1917, pg 6, as follows:

Article image

The article below was published in the Poverty Bay Herald, on 17 July 1917, recounting the circumstances surrounding Lynch's death.

Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIV Issue 14351, 17 July 1917, pg 4

Lynch is remembered on the Palmerston North war memorial (his name is listed as L Cobb), and his name is engraved on the Wellington Provincial Memorial in Karori Cemetery, Wellington. 

Wellington Provincial Memorial, Karori Cemetery. (Photo by K Bland, 2015)
Wellington Provincial Memorial - Karori Cemetery. (Photo by K Bland, 2015)

Wellington Provincial Memorial, Karori Cemetery. (Photo by K Bland, 2015)

Replica war medals for G L D Cobb.
(Photo by K Bland 2015)

About the hospital ship Marama
The Marama, was one of two re-purposed steamships which transported the wounded of all nationalities (including wounded German prisoners) during World War 1.  It was chartered four times. Lynch was on the second of these chartered voyages. Here is the Evening Post article of 9th November 1916, which announces that Marama is leaving from King's Wharf, Wellington, the following day. Private G L Cobb is listed here as one of the medical orderlies on board.

Evening Post, Volume XCII, Issue 113, 9 Nov 1916 p8 

The hospital ship Marama during WW1.

Lynch's name appears on a commemorative board in Marama Hall, at Otago University, which lists all the medical personnel who served aboard the Marama during the First World War. A digital version of this honours roll is found on the New Zealand Military Nursing website. 

Lynch's name (L Cobb) is also remembered on the War Memorial at the All Saint's Church, 338 Church Street, Palmerston North which was unveiled at a touching church service in 1920. His Uncle Jack's name was added to the wall as well later.

Information about the Marama
The link here provides details of the movements of the Marama during WW1.

At the end of the war the state of the art medical equipment on the Marama was distributed to military hospitals throughout the North Island.

The link here explains how the wounded were brought aboard the Marama.

A report on the work done from the Marama in 1915-1916 can be found here.

The photo below shows Lynch's parents Laura and Alfred in the living room of their home 23 Myrtle Crescent, Wellington. (Date unknown)  Apparently they were a very spiritual family and often had visitors over on Sunday evenings to sing. You can see the family piano on the right behind Alfred. Lynch would not have visited this home as his parents moved here after he died.

The house on the right is the old Cobb residence, 23 Myrtle Crescent Wellington (2015).

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Online Cenotaph: George Lynch Darby Cobb
Archway - Archives New Zealand: Record 21897745
Family held records

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