Headstone Recognition for WW1 'Hero'

Discussion in 'Looking for someone' started by liverpool annie, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    What can we find out about this soldier ?

    A highly decorated World War I soldier who is buried in an unmarked grave at a Gympie cemetery will soon get the recognition the RSL says he deserves.

    Gilbert Harry was awarded the Military Medal and the Military Cross and Bar for bravery during action on the Western Front.

    He was buried in Gympie in 1931.

    His resting place remained anonymous until earlier this year and Gympie RSL president Ivan Friske says a headstone will be placed on his grave in the next couple of weeks.

    "There would have been heaps that came back from war [who] just went about their business and no-one would have known anything about it but this man certainly was such a ... you could class him in the hero status, to go unnoticed is a real shame," he said.

    Ravenmad and spof like this.
  2. forester

    forester New Member

    Have you read his 46 page service record on the National Archives of Australia?

    I like this Confidential Report:

    "Quiet and unassuming, without much personality or push. Has done fairly well and has had experience in Gallipoli, Egypt and France, so should make a Staff Captain after further attachment."

    A bit of understatement there, I think.

    Ravenmad likes this.
  3. spof

    spof New Member

    Well Phil, us Australians are well known for being shy and retiringtypes :D

    I still love the comment from the Light Horseman after the cavalry charge at Beersheba who thought it was better than having to go on parade!:eek:
  4. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I'm only just getting around to it Phil !!!!! :rolleyes: .... sorry to be tardy !! ;)

    By the way Glen .... yeah right !! :p
  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    You know I'm really upset with that person saying that about him !!:(

    Heres a man who was awarded for doing such brave and honourable things - who was wounded and still did his job !! was stoic and solid and responsible ...... but they felt the need to make a statement like that - to go in his file !! and I don't even think they even signed it did they ? ( I forget now !! ) :confused:

    So his Dad was a minister in Canada .... wonder what we can find out about this family and about "our Gilbert " ?

    I'll check the Canada board if you guys haven't already done so !! :)
  6. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    By the way ...... no wonder I liked him ... he was born in the Channel Islands !! :D
  7. spof

    spof New Member

    Well let's start at the beginning (are you sitting comfortably :D:D:D)

    This is a summary of his service record

    Gilbert Harry joined the 26th Battallion AIF on 13 May 1915 at the age of 24 years and 4 months with regimental number 634 as an armourer sergeant. His next of kin was listed as an uncle Capt Alex Junner who he was living with at Prospect Terrace in South Brisbane. http://www.streetadvisor.com.au/queensland/south_brisbane/prospect_terrace/guide

    He was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands but later moced the England. His occupation was as a gunsmith and settler after completing a 4 year apprenticeship in Birmingham with W W Greener. He had also served for 1 1/2 years in the Derbyshire Volunteers before being discharged as medically unfit.

    On his attestation papers he is described as being 5ft 9inches tall, weighing 9 stone 13 pounds and his chest measurement was 35/37 1/2 inches. He had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair and also had 3 vaccination scars on his left arm and 3 teeth missing from his upper jaw. His religion was listed as Presbyterian.

    He left Australia in the ship A60 Aeneas on 26 June 1915 and arrived in Gallipoli in September 1915 and left there on 12 December 1915 and eventually ended up in France. Gilbert won his MM for bravery in the field in France in 1916 and it was gazetted on Thursday 21st September 1916 (so it was probably won at Pozieres) and was put forward to be a 2nd Lieut on 16 August 1916 and was later promoted to Lieutenant on 9 December 1916.

    7/9/1916 Detached to Bde HQ

    19/2/1917 Attended Staff Course at Clare College, Cambridge

    1/4/1917 Rejoined 7th Inf Bde HQ on detachment from Staff School

    10/8/1917 Appted 7th Bde Intelligence Officer

    4/10/1917 Awarded MC (Gazetted 1 Jan 1918) Wounded in action but remained at duty

    22/1/18 Detached for duty with Aust 2nd Div HQ

    31/1/1918 Rejoined 7th Bde HQ on detachment from detachment to 2nd Australian Div HQ

    26/3/1918 Seconded for duty as Intelligence Officer 7th Ind Bde

    19/7/1918 Detached from 7th Bde HQ for duty at 2nd Aust Division as ADC to GOC

    1/9/1918 Wounded remained at duty

    1/9/1918 Awarded Bar to MC

    19/9/18 Temp Captain

    29/11/18 relinquished temp rank of Captain

    18/4/1919 To UK to return to Australia

    4/6/1919 Return to Australia per "Mahia" and struck off strength and became a farmer

    In 1928 the late GOC 2nd Aust Div MAj General Sir Charles Rosenthal wrote enquiring of an address and the Prospect Terrace address was given as was his fahter's last known address at

    Rev Samuel Harry
    Oxford County
    Ontario, Canada

    A medical report in 1919 reports he was gassed atYpres on a number of occaissions but was never evacuated and suffered shell splinter pains in various parts of his body. The gassing still caused chroonic cough with hoarseness, short winded and palpitations. The medical board decided he would be 100% recovered in six months.

    London Gazette Third Supplement No 29758 of 19th September 1916 reported his MM
    HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned non-commissioned officer :-

    No 634 Armourer Sergeant Gilbert Harry
    The London Gazette Supplement 30450 of 28 December 1917 carried the citation for his MC
    HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the abovementioed reward for distinguished service in the field. Dated 1st February 1918.

    Lieutenent Gilbert Harry

    The London Gazette Fifth Supplement No 30997 of 7 November 1918 carried the citation for the Bar to his MC
    HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the above award to the undermentioned officer in recognition of his gallantry and devoction to duty in the field :-

    Lieutenant Glibert Harry, M.C., M.M.

    For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went forward under heavy machine gun and rifle fire to within a hundred yards of the enemy posts, and obtained information which was much required. He displayed fine courage and determination.


    His father remained in England when Gilbert emigrated to Australia and went to Canada in April 1915. Hee wrote to the Army records office in February 1916 asking for an address to write to his son. He also provided Gilbert's date of birth of Feb 1894, his Australian address at Milwerran via Pittsworth in Queensland and his occupation as a Methodist minister.

    In addition to his gllantry medals, Gilbert also got a 15 Star, BWM and Victory medal.
  8. spof

    spof New Member

    Attached Files:

  9. spof

    spof New Member

    His father Samuel Harry sailed to Quebec on 22 April 1915

    Attached Files:

  10. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Glen !!!!!! :D:D

    You are the bomb !! :D .... now I have to look through it all again properly !! ;)
  11. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Here's what was found on RC - about Samuel Harry :)

    He crosssed the border into the US in June 1916 headed for New York. The border crossing page is a bit blurry. It gives his previous address as Drumbo

    From the above mentioned border crossing, could "whether going to join a relative or friend" be: YMCA? N.Y. City?

    It looks like he had $400 with him, which was quite a bit of money.

    It appears that he did come back. There are two border crossing documents for Samuel Harry - one dated 24 Jun 1916 (that avidgenie mentioned) and one dated 19 Jun 1926. His age is listed as 53 on both documents but it does appear to be the same person. On the 1926 crossing, it indicates he was born in St. Austell, England and was a Methodist minister. His last permanent residence is listed as Drumbo, Ontario. He was going to a YMCA conference in New York. It also indicated he arrived in Montreal on the Metagama on 2 May 1915.

    Found him on the Canadian passenger list however the arrival date was actually 1 May 1915. Here's a link to the image at Library and Archives Canada (he's on line 25):
  12. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Heres something exciting ........ !! :D this is Rex living in Australia ! I've sent him a PM but he wants to know how he can help !! :)

  13. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  14. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I just found this .... looks like a lot of stuff has been found already !! :) .... I'm so glad !! :)

  15. spof

    spof New Member

    From the 1901 England census

    183 Osmaston Road, Derby (St Andrew's Parish)

    Isaac Brentnall, head, m, 44, Primitive Methodist miister, b Derby Wirksworth
    Claudia Brentnall, wife, m, 36, b St Austell Cornwall
    +6 children

    Mary A Harry, Mother in Law, Widow, 65, Retired grocer, born St Austell Cornwall
    Gilbert Harry, nephew, 8, b Guernsey C I

    Class: RG13; Piece: 3216; Folio: 147; Page: 40.
  16. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I've been in touch with Gilberts niece ... who was referred to me by a gentleman on RC !

    it's bedtime in Australia .... but she'll talk some more tomorrow .... she's just amazed at how many people are interested in her Uncle !!

    She has a lot of information about him ... so if we'd like to ask questions ... she'd be glad to answer !! :)

    Now I have to think about what I want to know !!!!!!!!! :D
  17. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I found this in the biographies .... looks like they have plenty of information .... it'll be nice to just follow the story now .... I'd love to see photos of the new headstone and the ceremony !! :)

    HARRY, GILBERT (1893-1931), soldier and farmer, was born on 21 February 1893 at St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, son of Samuel Harry, Primitive Methodist minister, and his wife Sarah Ida, née Bleathman. He migrated to Queensland shortly before World War I and when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 13 May 1915 gave his occupation as gunsmith and settler. He had been working his own land at Milmerran.

    Harry was allotted to the 26th Battalion and because of his knowledge of firearms and service with the Derbyshire Volunteers was soon posted to unit headquarters as armourer sergeant. The battalion sailed for Egypt in June and landed at Gallipoli on 11 September; five days later Harry was transferred to Ordnance, Anzac Corps. On 29 October he returned to his battalion which remained at Gallipoli until evacuation in December. It embarked from Egypt for France on 15 March 1916; from May to August Harry was attached to 2nd Divisional Armoury but he rejoined his battalion in time for the terrible fighting around Pozières in August. There, during the 26th's fifty hours in the trenches, he won his first decoration, the Military Medal. Although a non-combatant attached to battalion headquarters, he pleaded to take part in the attack. When the officer commanding the battalion ammunition dump became a casualty he took over and 'despite the fact that he was once completely buried and later was severely shaken by a high explosive shell stuck to his job gamely'. At great personal risk, he guided carrying parties across the open from the dump to the captured trenches. Commissioned as a second lieutenant on 16 August, he was appointed sniping officer to the 7th Brigade in September; he was promoted lieutenant on 9 December and attended a staff course at Clare College, Cambridge, from February to April 1917.

    Harry was awarded the first of his Military Crosses in September for 'courage, devotion to duty and plucky and clever reconnaissance' as brigade intelligence officer before the attack on Westhoek Ridge, near Ypres, Belgium. Because of his work, which involved being under continuous heavy shell-fire, the battalions of the 7th Brigade suffered no casualties while they were assembling for the assault. On 4 October he was wounded during the fighting around Broodseinde. He was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross for 'fine courage and determination' south of Framerville, France, on 11 August 1918; as brigade intelligence officer he obtained required information even though he was caught in a barrage and 'his clothing was pierced by enemy snipers' fire'. He was wounded again at Mont St Quentin on 1 September but remained on duty; that month he was made a temporary captain in the 26th Battalion but remained on secondment for brigade intelligence work for the rest of the war. He embarked for Australia in June 1919 and his A.I.F. appointment ended on 19 September.

    Little is known of Harry's post-war civilian life. In 1922-30 he was dairy farming at Kanyan near Gympie, Queensland; a nearby storekeeper recalled that his agricultural career was dogged by misfortune. He died, unmarried, at Gympie on 21 March 1931 of acute respiratory illness and was buried in an unmarked grave in Gympie Anglican cemetery. Harry was reserved by nature, dapper and small in stature. He was one of only nine members of the A.I.F. to win the Military Medal and Military Cross and Bar.

  18. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I heard from Gilbert's niece - sounds like things are moving along !! :D

  19. Roxy

    Roxy Member

    Good to hear that Gilbert is not being forgotten!

    Incidentally, I wouldn't be too harsh on the individual that suggested that Gilbert might make a staff Captain. A staff officer requires a different set of skills to those required of a warfighter. Reading about Gilbert, it doesn't sound like he would have wanted to be a staff officer!

  20. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I think he was a "loner " who did what he thought he had to do !! God Bless him !!

    It's a shame though - how many men - once the peace came - had a hard time readjusting !!

    Sounds like Gilbert had a hard time too !! :(

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