George was born 7 July 1882 (birth certificate number 1882/1066) in Nelson Street, Auckland.
Not much is known of his childhood other than we could expect it to be much the same as other children at the time in Auckland.
The first record we have of George is enrolling in the No.2 Coy. NZ Native Reserves on 14 April 1898, we then have George joining the 7th New Zealand Contingent to fight in the Boer War.
George embarked on the SS “Gulf of Taranto”, 6 April 1901 and included Reg No: 4044, Surname: Parker, Given Names: George Chetwyn, Unit: no 21 company (Auckland section), Rank: Private, Contingent: Seventh, Occupation: Telegraphist, County/City: Auckland, Address: Manchester House, Nelson Street, Auckland, Next of Kin: John James Parker, Next of Kin Address: same, Relationship to Soldier: father
From this we know he was a telegraphist working for the Post Office, which he had been prior to enlisting.
George arrived in Durban on May 10, 1901 with the rest of the contingent. The 7th had an infamous incident reported as follows in the New Zealand Herald 1 March 1902;
In December of last year occurred an incident which brought the Seventh, into rather prominent notice. It was what was described as the biggest row on record in the history of the Seventh Contingent.”
While on the trek from Vryheid a very large number of our horses were knocked up (says one of the men describing the affair), and the men were ordered to walk and lead them The day was broiling hot, and, of course, the men were not in a very good humour. An officer came along and spoke sharply to a couple of them, and then there was some language. Two of the fellows were court martialled in connection with the affair, and were sentenced to 42 days first field punishment. Up to the 2nd the men were subjected to ordinary field imprisonment, but on that day the whole regiment was thrown into a state of excitement by the news that the two defaulters were to be lashed to the gun-wheel; that is, tied up tightly with arms and legs widely extended, the prisoners being forced to retain a standing position. Two hours of this torture morning and evening constitutes first field punishment. No sooner were the prisoners tied up than the whole regiment rushed the waggon and cut the straps into scraps.
The major at once paraded the whole lot and read the finding of the court-martial, but all to no use. The men would not stand it. The major promised to see the colonel (Garrett) in “the matter, and the promise, I firmly believe, saved a mutiny, for the men would rather have “piled arms” than see the New Zealanders subjected to such treatment. Imperial officers sentence our fellows, but I don’t think they will get colonials to carry the programme through. Don’t think that we wish to rule the roost altogether, but we do object to the particular form of punishment. If they had got ordinary punishment no one would have murmured.
George was discharged on 27 February 1901, in Wellington and he later received the clasps for South Africa, 1901, and South Africa, 1902 for services in South Africa. He re-joined No.2 Coy. NZ Native Reserve 6 May 1903 and was discharged on 7 September 1905.
By 1905/6, George was living on Waitemata Street, and returned working as a telegraphist, according to the Electoral Roll.
In 1908 George married Annie Marie Patterson (Marriage Certificate Number 1908/7678) in Auckland.
On 19 May 1910, George was appointed Acting Lieutenant to No.3 Coy. N.Z.G.A. (New Zealand Garrison Artillery), until he was promoted to Lieutenant and put into No.7 Coy. N.Z.G.A. on 28 August 1911.
During this time, Dagmar Hazel Chetwyn, their first child and daughter was born 15 September 1910.
George and his new bride have moved to York Ave in Epsom by 1911, he is still working as a telegraphist.
An incident occurred which George was in the middle of, is covered in the following newspaper articles;
Auckland Star, 24 May 1912;
TERRITORIALS ON STRIKE. AUCKLAND COMPANY’S PROTEST. AGAINST OFFICER’S REMOVAL.
Considerable trouble is brewing in the ranks of the No. 7 Company of the Auckland Garrison Artillery, and the members of the company have practically decided to “strike.” The trouble has arisen through the transference, without explanation, of the popular officer who commands the company, and the succession of an officer who has had only six months experience, and who has been promoted over the heads of half a dozen senior men.
The officer who is being removed has been given no reason, for his transfer and has informed the commander of his decision that he will resign his commission rather than submit to this change without an explanation. His company is one of the biggest, most efficient, and most enthusiastic in the division, and the officer in charge is deservedly popular. He has had 14 years’ experience, including two years on active service, while his successor has only been in the company six months, and is junior to half a dozen other first-lieutenants in the division.
A meeting of members of No. 7 Company was held this week, and it was decided that they should as a body refuse to attend the parade called for June 3 (King Birthday), as an indication of their disapproval of the transfer of the officer commanding their company. It is also stated that some seven or eight officers in the company will resign rather than submit to the removal of the officer who has so long been in command.
Auckland Star, 3 June 1912;
A DISAFFECTED CORPS 7 GARRISON ARTILLARY. COMPANY 99 MEN SHORT ON PARADE.
The threatened “strike” of the members of the No 7 Company, Auckland Garrison Artillery, which was spoken of in the “Star” a couple of weeks ago, was apparently responsible for the absence of that corps from the review this morning in the Domain. It will be remembered that dissatisfaction was said to exist owing to the removal of their commanding officer, and the appointment of another officer to take his place. Two officers, a sergeant, and two privates turned up this morning at the Drill hall, but two of the men subsequently faded away, and only one private was left, a place being found for him in the No. 1 Company.
The company is about 100 strong. The 98 absentees are said to have laid themselves open to a penalty of £1 each by failing to attend the parade. Several of the corps were present at the hall in mufti, but the company as a company was conspicuous by its absence, which was of course commented upon, not only in the division, but by men of the other branches of the service, aware of the existing state of affairs.
New Zealand Herald, 4 June 1912
A DISAFFECTED CORPS. ONLY ONE MAN PARADES.
A stress in the ranks’ of the territorials occurred in Auckland yesterday, only one member of the No. 7 Company of the Auckland Garrison Artillery being present at the military review held in the Domain.
In 1 conversation with one of the strikers a, reporter was informed that there were 100 men in the corps, bat only one man attended the parade.
Our refusal to go On-parade,” he said, “is due to the action of the authorities in transferring Captain Parker from command of our company to another unit and appointing a successor who we do not consider was entitled to the promotion. There are at least six men in the company who were entitled to receive command of the company before the man selected, and -we consider the promotion is unfair. They can penalise us by fines or imprisonment if they have power, but we are determined to record an emphatic protest against the action of the authorities.”
The one member of the company who was on parade drilled with No.1 Company. Several members of the disaffected corps were at the Brill Hall in the morning, and later mingled among the spectators at the Domain, but they did not wear their uniforms, did not carry arms, and did not in any way indicate that they were territorials. Attendances at yesterday’s parade was j compulsory for all territorials who reside within a radius of 10 miles from the Auckland Town Hall, so the 99 men who failed to attend have committed a breach of military regulations. The defaulters are each liable to a penalty of £1.
This is the first occasion that trouble in the nature of a “strike” has occurred in either New Zealand or Australia since compulsory military training was introduced. It is understood an enquiry will be held by the Defence authorities.
Northern Advocate , 11 June 1912
REFUSED DUTY. ARTILLERY COMPANY’S DEFIANCE. MILITARY COURT INQUIRY.
The Military Court inquired into the matter of the discipline of No. 7 Company, Auckland Garrison Artillery, and as to the reason for only two officers and one man out of 114 members in the company attending King’s Birthday parade. Major Braithwaite presided, and with him were associated Major Stevenson and Captain Melville.
Lieut. Parker, late officer in charge of the company was present, and the president of the Court explained that the inquiry was not into Lieut. Parker’s honour or character, but as to his command of the company.
Colonel Hazard, officer commanding the division, stated that the discipline of the company was, bad. He accordingly transferred Lieut. Parker to another company. Thereupon an article appeared in the Auckland “Star” stating that No. 7 Company was going on strike and would not attend the King’s Birthday parade. At the parade in question only two officers and one gunner attended.
Members of the company were catted upon to give evidence, and stated that up till the time of Lieut. Parker’s transfer the discipline was excellent. It was only when Lieut. Parker, a man of 14 years’ experience, was removed and replaced by a junior of only 12 months service, that the men decided to show resentment, refusing to parade.
Lieut. Parker in his evidence stated that when he was saying “good bye” to his company he read the district order for the King’s Birthday parade and told the men to play the game. He did not think that the men meant to mutiny, but desired to show their disapproval of what had happened.
Lieut. Parker added that he, felt the transfer so keenly that he intended to resign his commission.
The Court has submitted the evidence to headquarters.
The result of the above was that George was transferred to the “Unattached list (a)” on 23 December 1912, and then to the “Reserve of Officers” on 17 November 1921. He retired from all military service on 18 December 1928. He was entitled to receive the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal and the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers’ Decoration.
From the 1914 Electoral Roll we find that George is still living in York Ave, Epsom and is working still as a telegraphist.
A second child is born, in 1916, this time a son Raymond Owen Chetwyn in Auckland.
In 1917, still living in York Ave, Epsom and listed as a clerk he is named on the World War 1 Reserves list 2nd Division.
From 1919 until 1935 George was a Returning Officer for a number of Electoral District’s in Auckland, An example of this can be seen in the New Zealand Herald 27 December 1919. From the Electoral Roll of the same year he is living at York Ave, Epsom and is a telegraphist.
George and Annie have their third child and second son, Huia Chetwyn, born 17 June 1920 in Auckland. The notice was published in the Auckland Star on 19 June 1920 and reads;
PARKER – On June 17, 1920 at their residence “Te Marae” York Avenue Epsom to Mr and Mrs G C Parker, a son, both well.
By 1928 we have George and his family move to 11 Inverness Ave (Now renamed Inverary Ave) in Epsom, and he has now been made Post Master.
In 1937 saw George follow his older brother John and invest into the hotel business. On 1 May 1937 the Auckland Star published the notice of George intending to obtain the License for the Caledonia Hotel – corner of Symonds Street and Karangahape Road. The hotel contained 18 rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family.
The transfer was subsequently approved on 3 June 1937, as stated in the New Zealand Herald of the same date. As yet we have no record of him ever selling this business.
By the 1957 Electoral Roll still living at 11 Inverary Ave, Epsom George has now retired having been working for his entire life for the New Zealand Post Office, firstly as a telegraphist then the last 29 years as a Post Master.
On 6 December 1958 at the age of 75, George passes away, in Auckland.