George Howard Earp was born at Marlborough, New Zealand in 1891 to parents Charles and Annie. An architectural draughtsman by trade, he enlisted at Prahran in Victoria on 17 August 1914 at the age of 23. Earp departed Melbourne with the 5th Infantry Battalion aboard HMAT Orvieto on 21 October 1914. Whilst serving at Gallipoli, Earp was struck down by gastroenteritis and in July 1915 was evacuated to Malta and then to Egypt for treatment. The following year he was sent to the Western Front in France and in April 1916 was transferred to the 1st Pioneer Battalion. In that same month he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and then again to lieutenant later that year. After served with the 1st Pioneer Battalion for the remainder of the war, George Earp returned to Australia on 9 March 1919.