GILBERT – Alfred Gilbert (1879-1915)

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War Memorial – Hadleigh, Essex

The St James The Less church WWI plaque lists A. GILBERT as having died in 1915, and the memorial plaque names him as ALFRED GILBERT.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states:

  • Private A GILBERT
  • Service Number: 16081
  • Regiment & Unit/Ship: Essex Regiment, 1st Bn.
  • Date of Death: Between 01 August 1915 and 31 August 1915
  • Age 36 years old
  • Buried or commemorated at TWELVE TREE COPSE CEMETERY, Turkey (including Gallipoli). Sp. Mem. C. 115.
  • Country of Service:  United Kingdom
  • Additional Info:  Son of Harry and Hortensia Gilbert; husband of Mary R. Gilbert, Albion Rd., Westcliff, Southend-on-Sea.


Alfred GILBERT was born 9th Apr 1879 in Barningham, Suffolk and was the sixth of nine children born to Harry GILBERT, a stockman, agricultural labourer and farm bailiff, and Hortensia JAYE, the daughter of a Carpenter.

Alfred’s parents, Harry and Hortensia, married late 1870 in the Woodfield district of Suffolk and had nine children between 1871-1888. They moved around Suffolk quite a bit, with their children born in Tuddenham, Rushmere, Stanton, Barningham, Stanton again, and finally Sapiston.

  1. Hortensia Gilbert (31 Jul 1871 – 4 Jun 1926) ~ married Jonathan Emmott (1897), a labourer
  2. Eliza Gilbert (3 Mar 1873 – ?) ~ married Arthur William Hudson (1893), a foreman tanner
  3. William Gilbert (13 Dec 1874 – 16 Nov 1936) ~ married Justina Prewer (1897), and Margaret Myers (1917)
  4. Arthur Gilbert (30 Mar 1876 – 9 May 1895) ~ died age 19
  5. Letitia Gilbert (28 Sep 1877 – 31 Dec 1947) ~ married George Howe (1897), a farm labourer
  6. Alfred Gilbert (9 Apr 1879 – 6 Aug 1915) ~ married Mary Rebekah Nunn (1904)
  7. Lizzie Gilbert (17 Apr 1883 – 13 May 1955) ~ married Harry Sayers (1908), a porter
  8. Philip James Gilbert (23 Aug 1885 – 10 Mar 1951) ~ married Edith Pansy Wright (1911)
  9. Ada Mary Gilbert (23 Feb 1888 – 03 Jul 1962) ~ married Wessie Willie Mason (1912), a news vendor, and Thomas Duffissey (1939), a builder’s labourer

At the time they married, Harry was working as a stockman in Tuddenham, Suffolk. Ten years later the family were living in Barningham, Suffolk where he was working as an agricultural labourer. By 1891 the family were living in Sapiston, Suffolk and Harry was working as a farm bailiff. The first of their children married in 1893 (Eliza), then in 1895 tragedy struck when their son Arthur died aged 19. Three more children married in 1897 (Hortensia, William and Letitia), and by 1901 Harry and Hortensia were living in Bradfield Combust, Suffolk, still working as a farm bailiff. Arthur was now boarding in Rayleigh, Essex working as a groom. Four years later on 25th Feb 1904, Arthur married a Hadleigh born girl named Mary Rebekah NUNN at St James The Less church. Another of Harry and Hortensia’s children married in 1908 (Lizzie), and on the same day the 1911 census was taken, their eighth child (Philip) got married. Harry and Hortensia were living in Stanton, Suffolk at this time, where he was working as a farm labourer (age 59), with just their youngest child still at home (Ada, who married the following year).

Alfred and Mary were living at 1 Fairview Villas, Lynton Road, Hadleigh in 1911 with their four children, where Alfred was working as a gardener. They had a fifth child in 1912 who very sadly died shortly after his birth.

  1. Alfred Jack Gilbert (01 Oct 1904 – 8 Mar 1966) ~ Marion Winifred Sarah Tubbs (1928) ~ foreman electrician and fitter
  2. Amy Hortensia Gilbert (10 Dec 1906 – 1978) ~ married Horace Monckton Ling (1946), builders merchant company director
  3. Eunice Ruth Gilbert (28 Mar 1909 – 1939) ~ died age 30, unmarried
  4. Gladys Mary Gilbert (28 Dec 1910 – 13 Dec 2007) ~ unmarried?
  5. Norman Harry Gilbert (1912 – 1912) ~ died age 0

Alfred was 25 when war broke out in 1914, and his brothers were 39 and 29. Alfred is the only one I have found military records for. Of his brother-in-laws, two enlisted (Lizzie and Ada’s husbands), the others most likely being considered too old. Albert enlisted 2nd Dec 1914 as a Private in the Essex Regiment (1st Battalion). His brother-in-law Wessie Willie MASON (Ada’s husband) had already enlisted into the Norfolk Regiment (4th Battalion) on 5th Aug 1914, but was discharged on 2nd Apr 1915 due to sickness. Albert’s brother-in-law Henry SAYERS (Lizzie’s husband) enlisted into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps as a Rifleman during 1915, and in the May of that year Alfred’s sister-in-law Justina (William’s wife) died aged 42.

Alfred embarked for the Balkans, heading for Gallipoli on 10th Jun 1915, and was reported as missing in action barely three months later on 6th Aug 1915 during the operations at the Dardanelles. His exact place of death is unknown, with reports of it being both Suvla Bay and Cape Helles (about 24 miles apart). His body was identified and initially buried at Cape Helles, then later reburied at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery in Turkey. He was 36 years old, leaving behind his wife Mary and their four children aged 4, 6, 8 and 10. Mary was notified that her husband was missing on 3rd Sep 1915.

Alfred’s sister Lizzie also lost her husband, Harry SAYER, during the war. He died in Belgium on 15th Apr 1918 aged 33. I don’t think they had any children and she never remarried. Mary and her children remained in Hadleigh for a while, but look to have moved to Westcliff-On-Sea in the 1920’s.

Alfred’s mother Hortensia died in 1922 aged 75, followed by his brother-in-law Wessie Willie MASON in 1923 age 35 (Ada’s husband), then his sister Hortensia in 1926 aged 54. Alfred and Mary’s son Alfred Jack married Marion Winifred Sarah TUBBS in 1928, which was shortly followed by the death of Alfred’s father Harry on 21 Feb 1929 aged 77. Both his parents died in Suffolk.

By 1939, Mary was living in Leigh-On-Sea age 63 (widow), along with daughters Amy and Gladys. Son Alfred now had three daughters with wife Marion and were living in South Benfleet where he worked as a foreman electrician, and daughter Eunice was a patient in Southend Hospital where died just a few months later aged 30. Amy married newly widowed Horace Monckton LING in 1946 and they had one daughter (he had four from his first marriage). Horace was 12 years Amy’s senior and had fought during the war with the Royal Army Medical Corps. I’m not sure Gladys ever married, or if she had any children.

Mary died in 1964 aged 87, followed two years later by son Alfred on 8th Mar 1966 aged 61. Amy died in 1978 aged 71, and Gladys possibly died in 2007 aged 96.

Family Tree

Link To Hadleigh

Alfred GILBERT married in and raised his family in Hadleigh before enlisting, so his place on the Hadleigh War Memorial is easy to understand.

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