Voices from the Past

Alexander John Bennington

Alexander John Bennington was born in Christchurch on 4 April 1891.

Prior to the outbreak of war, Alexander Bennington was working as an ironmonger for the R. Morrison store in Geraldine.

Alexander Bennington had completed Territorial service with the South Canterbury boys and he was also a member of the Geraldine Brass band.

Alexander enlisted on 15 August 1914 with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment and assembled at Addington Park in Christchurch.  His leadership qualities were quickly recognised and he was promoted to sergeant on 25 August, just ten days after joining up.

Alexander embarked on 16 October 1914 aboard the Athenic bound for Egypt.

The Main Body of ten ships travelled to Hobart, Albany (Australia), Colombo (Ceylon, now Sri Lanka), Aden and then through the Suez Canal, berthing at Alexandria on 3 December.

From there, the men entrained to Zeitoun Camp just outside Cairo and began the tough training regime of musketry drill, bayonet fighting, sand-bagging and of course, plenty of route marches. In their downtime, the men experienced the nightlife of Cairo. It was an eye opener for many.

In January 1915, the men were required to guard the Suez Canal against Turkish attacks. The Canterbury boys were camped at Ismailia and patrolled until being pulled out in late February.

Alexander Bennington left for the Dardanelles in April and went ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April with the rest of the Canterbury men. They were all ashore by 12.30pm and came under constant shrapnel fire. They moved inland, dug in and fought small battles over the next few days.

The month of May was a series of repulsing attacks and counterattacks and watching out for Turkish snipers. The men were also involved in the disastrous attack at the Daisy Patch (Cape Helles).

On 1 June, Alexander Bennington was shot in the head, probably by a Turkish sniper. He was not killed instantly and was transported to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds the following day (2 June 1915). He was 24 and is buried in the Beach Cemetery at Gallipoli (Plot I.H.5).

His KGV Memorial Plaque is on display at the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa in Waiouru.