Updated: Jul 25
Soldiers of World War One
David Lloyd, Alan Whiffen and Lynda Grange are researching the lives of soldiers with Gillingham connections. Some moved away from home and signed up elsewhere; others had subsequent links to Gillingham or the Dorset regiments. Some returned home and many didn't.
If you can add any information or provide photographs of the following soldiers then please email David, Alan or Lynda at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any WW1 memorabilia for possible display in the Museum please email Penny Peat at email@example.com
The alphabetical list below is of those soldiers with Gillingham connections who gave their lives in WW1. The Gillingham War Memorial is engraved 'In memory of 85 officers, non-commissioned officers and men from this parish who made the supreme sacrifice'.
There are 82 names on the 'Unveiling List', 89 names on the memorial plaques and 93 names in the Memorial Book held in St. Mary's Church.
The list below is not complete - entries will be added or updated when research has been completed.
New entries March 2021 - Jesse Biss (amendment), E Cabell, C E Coombs, J C Cowell, W B Davis, H A Doddington, C Down, W.O Down, P N Flower, T Flower, B Hiscock, AH Hooper, M N Kennard, A S King, FJ Kinnaird
New entries April 2021 - W M Crocker, Sylvester H Dukes, L V Dunning, G H Edwards, E A Gower, A P Gray, Henwood,
BAILEY Wilfred Victor
Z/265 Able Seaman Wilfred Victor Bailey of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve died of enteric fever on 30th June 1915 aboard the Hospital ship 'Dunluce Castle' at Mudros in Greece.
Wilfred was born on 9th September 1890 at Leamington, Warwickshire to parents Arthur and Minnie Bailey. In 1901 Wilfred was living in Newbury Street, Gillingham with his parents and brother Bertram (born 1894) and sister Florence (born 1898). Wilfred became a journalist based in London and on 22 May 1913 aged 22 he departed London aboard the 'Ionian' for Montreal, Canada.
By 1914 he was back in London at 22 Anholt Road, Battersea and on his 23rd birthday he enlisted in Nelson Battalion 'B' Company of the Royal Navy Volunteer
At the time of his loss his family were living at 5 Octave Terrace, Queen Street, Gillingham (later at 5 Alcester Villas, Shaftesbury).
Because of its position, the island of Lemnos played an important part in the campaigns against Turkey during the First World War. It was occupied by a force of marines on 23 February 1915 in preparation for the military attack on Gallipoli, and Mudros became a considerable Allied camp.
Wilfred is buried in the East Mudros Cemetery on the Greek island of Lemnos - his Commonwealth War Graves memorial reference is I.F.105 but his grave is not recorded. He is also remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial.
AW & DJL
Entry posted 17 June 2020
10726 Corporal Alfred Bealing of the 6th (Service) Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment died from his wounds in Awoingt, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France on 22 October 1918. He was 28 years old.
Alfred was born in early 1890 at Gillingham, Dorset to parents Thomas and Eliza Bealing (née Ridout). In 1911 he was living in Lydfords Lane, Wyke (two doors away from The Buffalo Inn) with his parents and siblings George (born 1864) and Elsie(born 1898).
Alfred enlisted at Gillingham on 8 September 1914. His occupation was gardener. He was 116 lbs, 5 feet 5 inches tall with black hair and grey eyes. He joined the 6th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment. On 13 July 1915 he embarked with the Regiment to Boulogne, France. In the spring of 1916 the 6th Dorsets saw action at the Bluff, south east of Ypres on the Comines Canal, before moving south to the Somme. Here they fought in the Battle of Albert, in which the Division captured Fricourt, and in the battle at Delville Wood. In 1917 the 6th Dorsets moved to Arras and saw action in the First and second Battles of the Scarpe and the capture of Rouen. In late summer they returned to Flanders and fought in The First and Second Battles of Passchendaele. In 1918 the 6th Dorsets fought in the Battle of St Quentin, Bapaume, Amiens, Albert, Havrincourt, Epehy and Cambrai. It was in the action to take the village of Awoingt that Alfred was shot in the thigh. He was taken to a Clearing Station and died there from his wounds on 22 October 1918. THe war cost 1000 lives of the 6th Dorsets, half of those in 1918.
He is remembered at the Awoingt British Cemetery - grave Ref: 1.B.7 and at the Gillingham War Memorial.
Entry posted 17 June 2020
M/334290 Private James Bealing of 976th M.T. Coy Army Service Corps died 19 July 1918 aged 33 (some records show 36) in Mesopotamia.
James was born at Milton-on-Stour in 1885 to parents John and Lydia (née Golding). The census of both 1891 and 1901 confirm him living at Milton-on-Stour. In 1892 his brother William was born. James married Ethel May Gregory on 1 August 1914 at Street, Somerset. They lived at 9 Wilfred Terrace, Street.
He enlisted at Weston-Super-Mare and served with the Army Service Corps.
He is remembered on both the Gillingham and Milton-on-Stour War Memorials and at the Tehran War Cemetery, Iran Ref. V.D.5
Entry posted 17 June 2020
7559 Private Saba Bealing of the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry was killed in action on 9 September 1914 aged 29.
Saba was baptised at Gillingham's St Mary's Church on 17 January 1886 and confirmed there on 1st September 1901. His parents were Tom and Margaret Bealing (née Mangan) who lived at Rose Cottage, Wavering Lane, Gillingham. Saba was probably named after his grandfather Seba Bealing a shepherd on Bleet Farm. (Seba was a biblical name). Saba, also known as Saba Tom had 5 siblings Elizabeth Kate b.1884, George b.1888, Gertrude Ellen b.1891, Elsie b.1893 and Frederick John b.1896.
Saba had enlisted at Stock Hill, Gillingham, probably in 1903. He disembarked in France on 20 August 1914 serving with the Expeditionary Force. He was killed in action on 9th September 1914. A report that was featured in the Western Daily Press of 19 October and some national papers mentioned that on the day following the official notice that Private S T Bealing, a reservist of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, had been killed, the following letter was received at his home -"Dear Mother, and all -Just a line to say that I died like a soldier. Love to all. Hope to meet you in Heaven".
He is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at La Ferte-sous-Jourre, Dept. de Seine et Marne where he is buried.
Entry posted 18 June 2020
766213 Private Jack Beck of the 28th Battalion, London Regiment (Artists' Rifles) died on 9 January 1918 aged 18.
Jack was born 15 April 1899 in Muttra, India to parents Alfred Dawson (an army officer) and Elizabeth Sarah Beck.
When they moved to Gillingham Jack attended Miss Leatherdale's private prep school (just a few doors away from where they were living at 3 Harwood Cottages, Newbury). In September 1911 Jack attended the Grammar School until July 1916.
Jack's Attestation to join military service was dated 10 February 1917 and he was assigned to the London Regiment in the Reserve. Jack was employed on 'home service' but he became unwell and was sent to Weymouth Military Hospital. He died on 9 January 1918 from cerebro-spinal fever, an acute infectious disease.
He is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at the Weymouth Cemetery - grave ref. B. "C" 2160.
Entry posted 19 June 2020
15507 Lance Corporal Jesse Biss of the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action in Mesopotamia on 25 March 1917.
Jesse was born at Henstridge, Somerset in 1878 to parents William and Ellen Biss.
In February 1901 Jesse enlisted at Weymouth for a year with the Dorset Imperial Yeomanry. His attestation form reveals that he had served previously with the 3rd Dorset Militia. He was 5ft 3ins, 136 lbs, brown eyes and had a bust of a woman tattooed on his right forearm. He was discharged on 9 August 1902 having served in the South Africa Campaign 1901-1902. He was a trooper with 39th Company, 10th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. He received the South African war medal for Transvaal and Cape Colony with clasps. His conduct was "very good." In late 1902 he married Dora Finn and together they had seven children two of whom died at birth. They were living in Peacemarsh in 1905. Turners Lane in 1911 and Peacemarsh Terrace in 1914.
The surviving children were Gwendoline Mira (b1905), Ivy Cicely Dora (b1907), Jesse (b1910), Ronald James (b1913) and Rose Lillian (b1915).
Jesse enlisted in WW1 but details are not known. Whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment he was killed in action at Jebel Hamrin in Mesopotamia on 25 March 1917. He was awarded the Victory and British medals.
He is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial, Sherborne Abbey QODY Memorial and at the Basra Memorial, Iraq.
DJL & LG
Posted 21 June 2020 updated 7 March 2021 ...............................................
BRACHER Frederick William
14713 Lance Corporal Frederick William Bracher of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action on 19 September 1915.
Frederick was born in Gillingham in 1886 to Frederick John and Sarah Stockdill Bracher (nee Ridout). The 1891 Census records the family living at Newbury, Gillingham with his father described as a cabinet maker. Next door lived Edward Bracher, builder, and his family. Frederick’s family are living at Wincanton at the time of the 1901 census and father is recorded as a manager of a furnishing business. In the 1911 Census, Frederick is a patient at the Royal Navy Hospital. Haslar, Alverstoke. He is single and a police constable with the Met.
His military service included serving with The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry with service no.19955. He went to France on 6 May 1915 and died on 19 September at the Somme. He was awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and 1915 Star.
He is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial and is buried at the Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt, Picardie, France.
Entry posted 14 February 2015
BRACHER William George
30792 Private William George Bracher of the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment died 3 September 1917 aged 29.
William was the son of John and Sarah Bracher. William was born at Henstridge in 1888. By the 1901 Census William was living at Forest Deer, Gillingham with his parents and siblings Harold Percy (b1889), Wesley (b1891), and Annie Elizabeth (b1895). William married Alice Mary Tucker in 1909 . The 1911 Census shows William, an auxiliary rural postman, and Alice living at East Stour with their newly born son William John Wesley.
He enlisted at Dorchester and served as Private 27584 in the 1st Dorsets before being transferred to 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment with service number 30792. He died on 3 September and is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial and the Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium where he is buried - memorial ref. II.E.10.
Entry posted 19 June 2020
BURNELL Robert Leslie
230171 Sergeant Robert Leslie Burnell, DCM, of 1st/1st Dorset Yeomanry (Queen’s Own) died on Sunday 9 June 1918.
Robert Leslie Grove Burnell was born in 1889 at Cannington, Somerset to Jesse Robert and Alice Burnell. Jesse was a farmer at Cannington but later became the landlord of The Phoenix Hotel, Gillingham until has death in September 1906, aged 42. Robert was confirmed in St.Mary’s Parish church in November 1904. After Jesse’s death, Alice continued at The Phoenix with Robert or Leslie, as he was better known. Leslie lived at The Phoenix in a one roomed, first floor furnished flat at a weekly rent of 7/6d (according to the 1911 Electoral register). His siblings were Raymond William (b1890),chauffeur at the Hotel in 1911, Sidney (b1892), Jeffery (b1906) and Marjorie Mary (b1894). In 1913 Leslie married Louisa Hanly at Paddington. Louisa was the daughter of Gillingham doctor Thomas Hanly. Twin sons were born in 1916, Robert Leslie and Thomas Leslie.
In 1915 the 3/1st Dorset Yeomanry was formed and Burnell probably joined them and later went to Ireland. He left Ireland in 1917with other Dorset Yeomanry bound for Alexandria, Egypt aboard HMT Willochra and joined the 1/1st QODY, commencing his active service. In the action of El Mughar, Palestine the QODY together with other infantry units successfully drove off Turkish forces from high ground.
Records of the Dorset Yeomanry show the following entry:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when acting as Brigade galloper. He [Burnell] carried messages on several occasions under heavy fire, and twice established communications with his Regiment, over very difficult ground, when all other means failed. On one occasion he passed through a party of the enemy while carrying an urgent message. He set a magnificent example of courage and initiative.” He received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Burnell was killed on 9 June 1918 together with Pte Darter, Trumpeter Routledge and Lt Mason when Mason led a mounted charge. Burnell's medals are on display at The Keep Museum, Dorchester.
He is commemorated at the Gillingham War Memorial and also at grave N.90 at the CWGC Jerusalem War cemetery, Israel.
Left: Burnell is thought to be on the left.
Right: Burnell's twin boys born 1916
Photos courtesy of Jane Clements whose grandfather was a friend of Burnell.
Posted 21 June 2020
17864 Private Edwin Cabell of 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action in Belgium on 15 August 1917.
Edwin Cabell was born at Holwell, Dorset in 1880. He was the son of George Babell a foreman at the brick works and Annie Cabell and the family lived at Packers Hill, Holwell. In 1901 Edwin was also employed at the brick and tile works.
Edwin married Alice Susan Pound at Weymouth in 1902. Alice was the daughter of a prison warder and in 1891 was living on Portland but by 1901 was living in Holwell and was a school mistress.
Edwin and Alice’s son Reginald was born on 14 March 1902 at Portland and their son Cyril was born on 12 September 1910 at Holwell.
In 1911 the family were living at Holwell and Edwin was employed as a brick and tile maker.
Edwin enlisted in the army at Gillingham but neither the date of the family’s move to Gillingham nor the date of his enlistment is known. It is likely that he was working at Gillingham Brickworks. His son Reginald was confirmed at St Mary’s Church, Gillingham in June 1917.
Edwin served as a Private in 5th Dorsetshire Battalion and was killed in an attack on German lines at Langemark, north of Ypres in Belgium on 15 August 1917. His death was reported in the Western Gazette of 7 September 1917.
He is buried at plot 4 row D in Artillery Wood cemetery in the West Vlaanderen area of Belgium and is remembered on Gillingham War Memorial.
Army pension records show that Alice and her two sons were living at New Road, Gillingham and she received a pension of £1 2s 11d but part of that pension was withheld because in October 1917 her elder son Reginald aged 15 joined the Royal Navy as a Boy II. Reginald served in the Royal Navy until October 1945 reaching the rank of Petty Officer.
Alice returned to Portland and died there on 6 March 1940.
Entry posted 24 March 2021
CARTER Edwin James Gordon
24047 Private Edwin James Gordon Carter of the 1st Battalion the Devonshire Regiment died 9 May 1917.
He was born in Brighton Sussex in 1883 to parents John and Elizabeth Carter.
ln the 1891 census he was living with his grandparents at Berwick St.James, Wiltshire. ln the 1901 Census, he was a boarder in Milford, Salisbury, Wiltshire living with William and Elizabeth Hallett, working as a draper's porter aged 16 years. On the 1911 census he is in Court Street, Tisbury, Wiltshire a boarder with Thomas and Arundell Hull working as a domestic chauffeur.
He later obtained a job as chauffeur for the Anstruther family of Knapp House, Wyke, Gillingham. (see left)
Edwin married Alice May Hull (daughter of Thomas and Arundell) in October 1915 and lived in Knapp Cottage where Winifred Joyce was born in 1916.
Edwin enlisted at Gillingham, Dorset on the 31 May 1916 with the Devonshire Regiment. He was killed in action at the battle of Fresnoy-en- Gohelle in north eastern France. ln records of the battle it states: ‘The 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment on the 8/9 May 1917 fought on when battalions to their left and right were late in the attack.’
Starting on 28 April 1917 the village Fresnoy was virtually destroyed. A quote from Ernst Junger, who wrote Storm of Steel, recalled the barrage on the village, "Fresnoy was one towering fountain of earth after another. Each second seemed to want to outdo the last. As if by some magical power, one house after another subsided into the earth, walls broke, gables fell, and bare sets of beams and joists were sent flying through the air, cutting down the roofs of other houses. Clouds of splinters danced over whitish wraiths of steam. Eyes and ears utterly compelled by this devastation."
A few weeks later on the 5 May the Canadians captured the village. It was lost however when ferocious German attacks were launched on 7 May and pushed the Canadians and British back.
Edwin died on 9 May 1917 and is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at the Arras War Memorial at Faubourg-D'Amiens, Arras, France.
AW & DJL with thanks to Penny Carey (Winifred's granddaughter) for the photographs
Entry posted 15 February 2015 amended 22 June 2020
CHURCHILL Lionel George
2215 Cpl. Lionel George Churchill served with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Battalion of the Household Cavalry & Cavalry of the Line Regiment. He died on 24 August 1915 from wounds received at Gallipoli.