William Gale

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Essex Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 34906

Parents: Stephen and Elizabeth Gale

Marital status: Married

Home address: 40 Castle Street, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Postman

Date of birth: 1876

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 30/04/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Arras Memorial

Age: 40

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

William Gale, known as Willie, was baptised 13th May 1877. His father, Stephen, was a postman and shoemaker, while his mother ran a grocery shop at 46 Castle Street. Willie was also employed as a postman and so was a familiar figure in the life of the town

Willie married Louise Eveline Adams, who was from Devonport, and settled in Thornbury, having two children here; Winifred at the end of 1914 and Percival in the spring of 1916

On an unknown date, Willie enlisted in Bristol, joining the volunteers of the 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment, which served in France and Flanders. The battle of Arras took place in two stages during April and May 1917. It was a bloody battle with high daily casualty rates. April that year was snowy and bitterly cold. The second phase commenced on 23rd April, St George’s Day. An eye witness from another regiment at this battle wrote ‘April 23rd 1917, St George’s Day, the day when very few of my pals came back… I was totally terrified but the lads tried to buck me up a bit but it felt like you were about to commit suicide. It was sheer murder. I panicked and dived into a shell hole and stopped there until dark.’ The 9th Battalion was in the midst of the fighting

The Gazette of June 23rd reported that Willie had been reported missing but was now ‘officially stated to be a prisoner in Germany’ and that his wife had been notified of this. However on July 7th William Gale was again reported as missing in the Gazette. Eventually the sad news came that Willie had been Killed in Action on 30th April. Willie Gale has no known grave

The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7th August 1918. The most conspicuous events of this period were during the Arras offensive of April to May 1917

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website; Thornbury and District Museum Research Group and Forces War Records