b. 06/04/1884 Opotiki, New Zealand. d. 25/07/1918 Rossignol Wood, France.
Travis was born as Dickson Cornelius Savage on 6 April 1884 in Opotiki, New Zealand. He was one of nine children, being the fifth in the brood. His father, James Savage, a former member of the New Zealand Armed Constabulary, had migrated to New Zealand from Ireland and was employed as a farmer. His mother, Frances (née O'Keefe), had originally come from Sydney, Australia. As a child Dickson Savage attended schools at Opotiki and Otara but only completed the first four years of his education before his family took him out of education to work on the farm. He acquired various farming skills, but showed a particular talent for horse breaking for which he earned a degree of local fame. However, Savage had an impetuous nature and he found himself in trouble after leaving home and moving to Gisborne at the age of 21 after falling out with his father. Amid claims of impropriety with a local woman he moved on and, seeking a clean break, he changed his name to Richard Charles Travis and in 1910 he settled in Winton. There he found work as a farmhand with a local farmer by the name of Tom Murray at his property around Ryal Bush. Sometime later he and Murray's daughter, Lettie, became engaged although the pair were not married before the war in Europe separated them.
Less than a month after the outbreak of the First World War Richard Travis sought to join the 7th (Southland) Mounted Rifles, a squadron of the Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment. Enlisting in Invercargill Travis' height 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) and weight 133 pounds (60 kg) with "a fresh complexion, blue eyes and fair hair" belied his military potential.
Upon arrival in the Middle East in December 1914, the New Zealanders undertook further training, before taking part in the Landing at Anzac Cove as part of the Gallipoli campaign on 25 April 1915. Following the evacuation of Gallipoli, the New Zealanders returned to Egypt while their future employment was being considered. In March 1916, Travis was transferred to the infantry and was posted to the 8th (Southland) Company of the 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment and after the decision was made to transfer the New Zealanders to the European theatre he sailed with them to France, arriving there in April, to serve in the trenches along the Western Front.
In September 1916 he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Commonwealth's second highest gallantry award, when he was involved in the fighting on the Somme. In early 1918 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre from the Belgian government, and then later the Military Medal. He was killed during an artillery barrage on 25th July 1918, the day after the deeds which saw him awarded a posthumous VC.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOUTHLAND MUSEUM, INVERCARGILL, NEW ZEALAND.
BURIAL PLACE: COUIN NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, COUIN, FRANCE.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
ROW 9, GRAVE 5