Gill J.W.

JOHN WALTON GILL (1898-1918)

36880 Private John Walton Gill, 7th Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment died of wounds 3 December 1918 and is buried in Hamsterley (St. James) Churchyard, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham. [1] He was 20 years old and is commemorated on the Woodland War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Baptist Church, Lynesack.

Family Details

John Walton Gill was born 1898[2] the son of Joseph Anthony and Mary Ann Gill.  There were at least 3 children, all born in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley: [3]

  • John Walton born 1898
  • George William bc. 1900
  • Gladys Dora bc.1902
  • Mary Greta bc.1916 [4]

In 1901, the family lived at Snow Bank Cottage, Emms Hills in the South Bedburn Civil Parish of the Lynesack Ecclesiastical Parish where Joseph worked as a farmer.[5]  By 1911, the family lived at West Crane Row, Butterknowle and Joseph was employed as “a farmer own account.” [6] In March 1917, John W. Gill was employed as a farmer. [7]

Service Details

John Walton Gill aged 18 years 11 months enlisted 6 June 1917 at Bishop Auckland into the 3rd Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment and was given the regimental number 36880. [8]  He underwent a medical examination 5 March 1917, stood 5ft.6½” tall and weighed 110 lbs. and was considered fit for service. [9]

Private J.W. Gill served a total of 1 year 171 days as follows: [10]

  • Home: 6 June 1917 to 13 September 1917……………100 days
  • France: 14 September 1917 to 7 March 1918…………165 days
  • Home: 8 March 1918 to 10 October 1918……………..217 days
  • France: 11 October 1918 to 11 November 1918………32 days
  • Home: 12 November 1918 to 3 December 1918………22 days

Private J.W. Walton embarked on the BEF 14 September 1917 and was posted to the 13th Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment joining them at Etaples the following day.  He was then posted to the 7/East Yorkshires 22 September 1917 “in the field.”  [11]

The 7th (Service) Battalion was formed as part of K2, Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of the 50th Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division.  The Division landed in France 14 July 1915.[12]  The Division saw action on the Western Front in 1915 at Ypres, in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme (Battles of Albert and Delville Wood) and in 1917 the Arras Offensive.  In 1917, whilst Private J.W. Gill served with the 7/East Yorkshires, the 17th Division was part of the XIV Corps Fifth Army and took part in the First Battle of Passchendaele 12 October and then as part of the IXX Corps Fifth Army, the Second Battle of Passchendaele 26 October to 10 November.  These battles were part of The Third Battle of Ypres. [13]

During March and April 1918, he was sick and spent time at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Norwich.  Then from 3 June to 16 August the No.1 Infantry Command Depot, North Camp, Ripon, North Yorkshire suffering with “Trench Fever.” [14]

During this time, the German High Command had launched its spring offensive and the British and Allies were pushed back all along the Western Front until 8 August when at the Battle of Amiens, the 17th Division as part of the Australian Corps, Fourth Army [15] advanced in what General Erich Ludendorff would call, “The Black Day of the German Army”.

Private J.W. Gill was back in France 11 October 1918 and posted to 7/East Yorkshires 12 October.  The 17th Division was now part of the V Corps Third Army as the Allies pursued the German Forces to the Selle and the Battle of the Selle raged from 17 to 25 October.[16]

The last enemy action for 7/East Yorkshires was 2 November 1918. [17]  The War Diary contains the following entries:

“1918

November 1st

The Bn was still at rest in NEUVILLY….Warning Order was received at 15.00 hours that the Bn would move into the line on the 2nd.

November 2nd

…Warning Order was sent round to companies that the 17th Division would take part in an attack and that the Bn would move to VENDEGIES at 18.00 hours….The Bn fell in ready to move off at 18.55 hours…Orders were received…that the Bn would move to Assembly positions in area NORTH of POIX-DU-NORD.

See “SPECIAL REPORT of OPERATIONS by Lt.Col. G. EAST KING DSO

The Special Report of Operations is summarised below:

4 November: 10.15, the battalion moved forward and maintained touch with the Sherwood Foresters and came under very heavy machine gun fire and artillery fire from Futoy.  By 12.59 the battalion was in position to advance to the 3rd and final objective but a message came from the Dorset Regiment at 13.00 that it was held up and not advancing without further orders.  Lt.Col. G. East-King immediately sent written instruction for them to move forward to protect his left flank.  British artillery fire fell short and hit the rear of the assembly positions which lasted until 15.00 hours.  The leading troops contacted the Dorset Regt. but were at this time held up by machine gun fire.  Lt.Col. G. East-King sent men to outflank the machine guns to attack from the rear.  This was successful and the area was mopped up by 16.40.  Six machine guns and 12 prisoners were captured, 14 enemy soldiers were killed.  Battalion casualties were 2 officers killed, 2 officers wounded and 100 Other Ranks.  At 23.00 orders were received to hold the advance.

5 November:  00.20hours, orders received to continue the advance to the final objective.  Lt.Col. G. East-King instructed 3 platoons to move forward and 5.30 had gained their objective without opposition.  At 06.00 hours, the Lincolnshire Regiment passed through and continued the attack.  The Battalion captured 20 machine guns, 3 field guns and much equipment, 16 prisoners.  30 Germans lay dead.

The War Diary continues:

November 5th

CASUALTIES: CAPTAIN F.C. TONKIN DSO MC KILLED

                         Lieut. K. Middlemiss MC wounded

                         2/Lieut. F.W. SELCH killed

                         2/Lieut. E.L. Stead wounded

OTHER RANKS: KILLED 22

                            WOUNDED 89

                             MISSING 2

 6th Nov:  to be billeted in Grande Carriere but ordered cancelled & remain in Foret de Mormal

8th Nov: 03.00hrs Conference of Coy Commanders in which C.O. explained role of Bttn in next attack.  Billets in Bachant.

11th Nov:  Official notice received at 09.30hrs that an Armistice had been granted to the enemy.  News given to parade by C.O.

Private J.W. Gill suffered a GSW (gun shot wound) to the right side and head during the month of November.[18]  It is assumed that this occurred on 4/5 November during the above action.  He was taken back to the UK for treatment 12 November and admitted to the Military Hospital, Berridge Road, Nottingham then the Trent Bridge Military Hospital, Nottingham 21 November 1918.  Private J.W. Gill succumbed to his wounds 3 December 1918. [19]  Private J.W. Gill was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [20]

Later research records that 1 officer and 36 other ranks serving with 7/East Yorkshires were killed in action of died of wounds between 2 November 1918 and 11 December 1918, the last casualty of the war.  This was to be 52020 Private C. Briggs who died of wounds 11 December 1918 and is buried at Aston-cum-Aughton Cemetery, near Sheffield, Yorkshire. [21]

Burial

Private J.W. Gill is buried at Hamsterley (St. James) Churchyard near Bishop Auckland, County Durham

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.245 Auckland 1898 Q3

[3] 1911 census

[4] Army Form W.5080

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] Army Form B.178

[8] Army Form B.2065 and SDGW

[9] Army Form B.178

[10] Military History Sheet

[11] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form-active service

[12] http://www.1914-1918.net/eastyorks.htm

[13] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm

[14] Table II  Admissions to Hospital

[15] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1918_pt2.htm

[16] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1918_pt2.htm

[17] Graham Dyson e-mail 12.02.2015 assistant curator

[18] Military History Sheet

[19] Table II Admissions to Hospitals

[20] Medal Roll card index

[21] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

Photographs:

GILL J.W. Medal Roll

GILL J.W.
Medal Roll

GILL J.W. Headstone

GILL J.W.
Headstone

 

One thought on “Gill J.W.

  1. Pingback: WOODLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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