George Charles Gilby was born in Oakham around 1884, the son of Frank and Louisa Gilby. The family lived in Gaol Street and later moved to Finkey Street. George was the eldest of five children, with three younger brothers and a sister. He was a hairdresser and tobacconist by trade, and aged 19 married Annie Neal from nearby Egleton. The couple moved to Burton Latimer near Kettering and had a son Alfred, who would have been six years old when the war began. George enlisted in Kettering, and initially served with the Essex Regiment. He later served in the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment and died fighting in the Battle of Broodseinde, part of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in October 1917. On 4 October the South Staffs were attacking on the right of the British line, east of Polygon Wood. The battalion war diary recounted: "The attack commenced at zero (6 a.m.) and from the start progressed steadily according to the timetable, comparatively little opposition was met with. The right flank of the attack came under considerable machine gun fire and suffered considerably, otherwise casualties were light. A large number of Germans were shot and bayoneted, none of the "pill boxes" encountered gave much trouble." The battalion gained its objectives and consolidated the line. The following day the diary reported sniping from Judge Copse and machine gun fire from Polderhoek "were becoming very troublesome and causing considerable casualties." There was also heavy shelling during the night of October 5/6 before the battalion was relieved. George is recorded to have died on 6 October. He has no known grave and is remembered on Panel 91 of the Tyne Cot Memorial. His name is not on any war memorial in Rutland, but he is rememebered on the war memorial in Burton Latimer, listed as Charles G Gilby. His wife, before their marriage, worked as a servant for the Baines family in Oakham. She would have known their young son Cyril Baines who also died in the First World War.
We are grateful to site user Paul Sanders for telling us about George and for supplying a picture of his medals.
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