Private 37095 John Gwilt

Gwilt John 96 432x600

Died of Wounds on Sunday, 3rd December 1916, age 21.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 11 D of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

8th Bn., Royal Berkshire Regiment. 1st Brigade of 1st Division.
Formerly 4650 Cheshire Regiment.

Son of George William and Susannah Gwilt, of 40, Highfield Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Liverpool, Resident: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial, but commemorated on the Christ Church, Mersey Ironworks and Civic Memorials, Ellesmere Port.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/788152/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Gwilt registered September quarter 1895 at Dudley.

1901 Census
33 Albert Street, Coseley, Staffs.
George Gwilt (32, Furnaceman, born Wolverhampton), his wife Susan (31, born Tipton) and their 2 children: Richard (9, born Sedgley), John (6, born Sedgley).

1911 Census
35 Queen Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
George William Gwilt (41, Widower, Furnaceman, born Coseley), and 3 of his children: Richard (19, Labourer, born Coseley), John (16, Labourer, born Coseley) and Ethel May (10, School, born Willenhall).

John Gwilt's birthplace seems confused. The Census says either Sedley or Coseley, SDGW says Tipton, and De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour says Prince's End, Tipton. As De Ruvigny's entry would have been provided by his father, we can assume this to be fairly accurate and consider him a Tipton man.

Personal Data

De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour
GWILT JOHN, Private No. 37095, 8th Battn. Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regt.). 2nd son of George William Gwilt, of 40, Highfield Road, Ellesmere Port, Co. Chester, Iron Worker, by his wife Susannah, daughter of Toby Whitehouse; born Prince's End, Tipton, Co. Stafford, 21st August 1895; educated Tipton Schools; was an Iron Worker; joined 5th Cheshire Regiment in April 1916; transferred to the Royal Berkshire Regiment 20 November; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from November, and was killed in action 3rd December following. Unmarried.

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/9/11d (3 pounds, 9 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his father and sole legatee, George W., in March 1917. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that John had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

Action resulting in his death

following is (partly) courtesy of www.purley.eu - "The Biscuit Boys"
The 8th Battalion had been in the area of the Somme since the opening of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July, their role mainly being one of support. On 28th November they moved to bivouacs near Bazentin-le-Grand, and had a brief spell in the trenches from 1st to 8th December. They were near the Butte de Warlencourt but as a result of the atrocious weather 200 yards of the trench were unusable and they had to go out into the open to reach the front line. During their time in the line, 19 men lost their lives, 8 of them on the 3rd December when John Gwilt died.

"Soldiers Died in the Great War" records him as Died of Wounds, so he may have been wounded before the 3rd December. If this is accurate it would be reasonable to expect him to have been transported back through the Casualty evacuation system, and there to be a higher chance of him having a known grave. For reasons now lost, he does not have a marked grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

Unknown Ellesmere Port Newspaper, late December 1916
Private Jack Gwilt, the youngest soldier son of Mr. George William Gwilt, of 40 Highfield Road, Ellesmere Port, has been killed in action. Deceased, who was only 21 years of age, was employed at the Mersey Ironworks before the war broke out and he enlisted about seven months ago.
He was a well-known local billiards player, and two weeks before joining the colours he won a gold watch in a handicap at the Billiard Hall. The deceased was very popular with his workmates, and much sympathy is felt for his father. His brother is serving in Mesopotamia.

Above newspaper article courtesy of Mike Royden's fine web site: http://www.roydenhistory.co.uk