1916 - Edward Gale WW1

Edward Gale

Edward was actually registered and christened Edwin John the son of Frank or Francis Gale and his wife Martha Ann nee Barker.  Frank was the son of James and Ann Gale nee Matthews, and had lived in Oare until the late 1870s when he moved to London.  Edwin was born in 1883 in Marylebone but his mother died in 1884 and his father remarried Emily Elizabeth Waymark in 1888, on the 1891 census he was living with his father and stepmother in London.  On the 1901 census he was staying in Oare with his Grandmother Ann and his occupation at the age of 17 was Baker.

Ann Gale             Hd     Wid   76

Arthur Gale       Son      S       39

Emily Gale        Dau      S        35

Edward Gale    G. Son  S       17      Baker    Marylebone

On the 27th December 1913 he married Grace Willis at All Saints Church West Ham, and on the 19th January 1914 they had a daughter Emily Maud.

Conscription was introduced in March 1916 when married men could be included so it is likely after this date before Edwin was called up.  He enlisted in Pinner, London and became Private G/22582 in the Buffs East Kent Regiment 1st Battalion.   No embarkation date is given on his Medal card so he probably did not go to France until 1916/17.

Cambrai was a key supply point for the German Army’s Hindenburg Defence line so it was strategically important  for the Allies to capture it, the Battle of Cambrai  started on 20th November 1917  it was initially a success, it was the first time British tanks had been used in support of troops and in some places they penetrated five miles through the line.

War Diary 1st Buffs

Noyelles   22.11.17     Battn defending Noyelles

                   23.11.17     10 Other Ranks Killed

                   24.11.17     Offensive ended 1 Other Ranks Killed

                                                                       6 Other Ranks Wounded

                   26.11.17      Battn relieved & withdrawn to Hindenburg Line

On the 30th November the Germans launched a counter-attack, the bombardment  which included the use of Phosgene Gas was so violent that many frontline troops had little or no opportunity to defend themselves before they were overwhelmed, communication between the front trenches and the rear were cut off, and  although many men fought bravely 6,000 were taken prisoner.

War Diary 1st Buffs

Gouzencourt   1.12.1917

The Battalion reinforced the troops who were holding the line around Gonnelieu a la Vaquere where the Hun broke through on the previous day.

The Commanding Officer Major B.L Strauss was killed plus 7 other ranks, many others were wounded.

Edwin was reported killed in action on this day, his body was never identified and he is named on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval which commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen from Britain and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai whose graves are not known who died Nov and Dec 1917.

Between the 20th Nov and the 8th Dec 44,207 men were dead, wounded or missing.

Edwin was awarded the Victory Medal and British Medal and after the war Grace received a widow’s pension.  Like thousands of other children Emily would not have known or remembered her father.

His inclusion on the War Memorial at Oare was probably due to his aunt and uncle who still lived in Oare after the war.