GEORGE GAWLER was born on the 21st July 1795, and came of a fighting family; his father, Captain Samuel Gawler of the 73rd Highlanders, was later killed at the storming of Fort Maggerall (Southern India) in 18O4.
He entered the Royal Military College as a Gentleman Cadet, in October 1808, was promoted Corporal and Under Officer, and received a free commission as Ensign in the 52nd Light Infantry on the 4th October 1810, being then only 15 years and 3 months old. In January 1812 he proceeded with the 2nd Battalion 52nd to Lisbon, and shortly after arrival was transferred to the 1st Battalion, with which he took part in the assault on Badajoz on the 6th April 1812.
Gawler was promoted Lieutenant 12th May 1812, and served with the Regiment until the end of the war in 1814. He was wounded by a musket shot in the neck at the skirmish at San Munoz, November 17th 1812, and was present at Vittoria, Vera, the Nivelle, the Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, and many minor engagements, receiving eventually the Peninsular Medal with seven clasps. He went on to serve with the Regiment at the battle of Waterloo.
In 1838 Lieut.-Colonel Gawler was appointed Governor of South Australia. His task was a difficult one, as he was practically the founder of the new colony; and what he did for the advancement of South Australia is now a matter of history - both a town and a mountain were named after him.
Colonel Gawler in Southsea
George Gawler moved to Southsea in the mid 1850s. The 1861 Census shows him residing at Kent Lodge, in Kent Road which still exists. The last years of George Gawler's life were lived at Southsea Villa, Palmerston Road, Southsea which was between Villiers Road and Auckland Road East. An Ordnance Survey map of 1867 shows the house to have been of substantial dimensions, sitting in it's own grounds, with what appear to be formal gardens between the house and Palmerston Road. The house was demolished soon after his death but some of the garden walls are thought to remain.
The Tale of Two Headstones
The exact location of the grave had not been identified in 2002 when the Royal Greenjackets Regiment decided to recognise Gawlers importance to the Regiment by erecting a new headstone (see photo). As the exact location was not known the stone was placed under a tree in the proximity of the grave. In July 2005, further investigation of the area uncovered the broken remains of the original headstone, one piece of which was still in place, thereby identifying the exact location of the grave. This is about 20 metres east of the replacement headstone, immediately adjacent to a path. This headstone is currently (2006) under restoration.
Further information on George Gawler can be obtained at the Memorials in Portsmouth website.