William Gibbs

Village memories: Sunnyside (Picture from SWOP website)

No picture available

Private 17601 3rd Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry
Died on home soil on 20th March 1915 aged 35
Remembered with Honour in Portsdown (Christchurch) Military Cemetery
Grave reference D.24.

William Gibbs was born in June 1879 and baptised on the 19th of that month. He was the third son of Charles and Emma Gibbs, who had married at All Saints parish church on November 12 1871, and went on to have 8 children, including 6 sons. Charles was a jobbing gardener and in the 1870s the family lived in King's Head Yard in Wycombe. This was behind the King's Head pub in Oxford Street, and reached by an alleyway just to the west of the Electroscope theatre, which later became The Rex cinema. By the 1890s the family had moved to 46 Denmark Street.
William, his elder brother George, and younger brother Joseph, all joined the local militia, signing on initially for 6 years. This was not full-time military service but akin to today's Territorial Army. Joseph enlisted on April 9th 1902, George on May 2 1895, and William on January 3 1900. In his attestation papers William was described as being 5ft 5¾ ins tall, with a fresh complexion, sandy hair, and 'tattoo marks, indistinct "w", left upper arm and forearm'.
Their father Charles died early in 1890 aged 52, leaving Emma a widow at 50 years of age. By the time of the 1901 census William was listed as a chair polisher. On June 6 1905 he agreed to 're-engage' in the Militia, and shortly afterwards he married Daisy Ethel Why. On December 23 1907 he was discharged from the Militia 'in consequence of his own request'.
In the census of 1911 William and Daisy were living at No.5 Sunnyside in Boundary Road, Loudwater, a few yards east of the Happy Union pub. They had one daughter Daisy Alice aged 3. Another girl Ruby Lillian Daisy Gibbs aged 8 was living with them, who was described as a 'Boarder'. Almost certainly Ruby was the daughter of William's wife Daisy from a previous relationship. The census records her as having two daughters, both still living. William's occupation was listed as a Millhand - blotting paper, so he would have been working at Ford's Mill in Loudwater village.
William, as well as brothers George and Joseph, were all called up into the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (OBLI) during the Great War. George saw service in Salonika. He and Joseph survived the war but William, serving in the 3rd Battalion died on March 20th 1915. At the time the 3rd Battalion were stationed near Portsmouth, and William had not left home soil. He died in the Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, near Fareham, with the cause being 'cerebrospinal meningitis and exhaustion'. This was a military hospital built in the years 1904-1908. The red brick buildings stood on the slopes of Portsdown Hill overlooking the village of Cosham.
Private Gibbs appears on the High Wycombe Roll of Honour and is remembered with honour at the Portsdown (Christchurch) Military Cemetery.

Additional information taken from the Buckinghamshire Remembers website:

Name William GIBBS
Rank/Number Private 17601
Regiment Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry D Coy 3rd Battalion
Enlisted Oxford
Age/Date of death 35 20 Mar 1915
How died/Theatre of war Died Home
Last known address
Cemetery Portsdown (Christ Church) Military Cemetery, Hants
Grave or Memorial Reference D.24
Location of memorial Loudwater
Date/Place of birth c1880 High Wycombe
Date/Place of baptism
Pre-war occupation of Casualty French polisher, chair
Parents Charles (late) & Sarah Gibbs
Parent's occupation gardner
Parents’ Address (last known) 1901: Mullett Yard, High Wycombe
Wife Daisy Gibbs
Wife’s Address (last known) Sunny Side, Loudwater .

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