Thursday 11 August 2011

My Paternal Great-Grandfather

was named William Gardner and he died aged 41yrs in Iraq during WW1. He was in a small boat under the cover of darkness when hit by heavy shelling on the River Tigris, he died of wounds received that night on March 8th 1916.
This passage was written by Colonel JM Cowper and published by "The King's Own" Regiment in 1957;

"6th Battalion
Established as a result of Lord Kitchener's appeal for volunteers, the 6th Battalion was one of four raised in Lancaster. They were sent to the south of England for training and the joined the 38th Infantry Brigade(13th Division) and fought in the Gallipoli Peninsula from 6th July to 21st December 1915. They then moved to Lemnos in Egypt which they left on 13th February 1916, to join the Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia, where it fought until the Turks were finally defeated. The Battalion then proceeded to Rowalpindi in India for Frontier Service but was not required. It was demobilised and returned to England in August 1918.

The 6th Bn was involved in the following actions:
Attack on Saribair, August 1915
Actions at Hannah, Sanniyat, Abu Roman on the Tigris River
Capture of Kut-el-a-mara
Crossing of the Diyalah River
Capture of Baghdad
Pursuit of Turks 1917
Occupation of Kirkuk, Spring 1918

A total of 61 officers and 1138 other ranks were killed during these battles."

The current census has reminded me that I gleaned much of our family history from earlier UK censuses and got me thinking about my ancestry again.

William was born in Lancaster(1875) to James and Jane Gardner and was christened at St Mary's Priory Church that year. He married  Mary Ann Cole from Barrow in Furness and left behind 7 children. The family lived at 1, Albert Sq, Bridge Lane, Lancaster.As a child Wm attended the Quay School and worked at Lune Mills before the war. He also served in South Africa during the Boer War.
Granny Gardner received a postcard from her husband on February 2, 1916 saying he had just joined his regiment and "was in the pink".

Their children were as follows...

James(Jim)                       1898-1985
Frederick William(Fred)   1900-
Robert Herbert(Herb)       June 16th 1903-June 5th 1993(my Grandad)
Margaret Jane(Parker)     1905
John Thomas                   1907
Annie(Nixon)                   1910
Elizabeth(Hannigan)        August 1915-June 10 2016

I'm unsure when most of these great aunts and uncles died but they were all well into their 80's. Auntie Betty turned 100 yrs in 2015

the three sisters thanks to Marion Ogden, youngest daughter of Annie...
Margaret(b1905, Elizabeth(b1915) and Annie(b 1907)

This is the only photo we have of William and Mary Ann, it was taken on their wedding day. Great-Grandad is flanked by two of his brothers, his sister is to the left of Great-Granny. Her sister, Cicely Garner* is on the right of the photo.

A second photo has been given to me by Annie's daughter, Marion Ogden, 5 years on from this post,
Mary Ann and William with I presume James, their first-born...

William was a Sergeant and soldier number 152411, 6th Battalion, King's Own Regiment(Royal Lancaster Regiment) and is remembered in this Roll of Honour and a Memorial at Basra. On February 2nd 1916 Great grandad was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry. His youngest daughter, Elizabeth, placed the medal in her mother's hand as she lay in her was buried with her at Scotforth Cemetery in Lancaster.

*Mary Ann's maiden name was Garner, not to be confused with Gardner.


  1. my grandfathers brother arthur anderson shepherd was in the 6th battalion and was killed in april 1916, he has a war grave at Basra. his army number is 19428 and i have his death penny as they became known but little else.

  2. WAs he a Lancaster lad too, Simon. Thank you for your comment Lest We Forget