Lewis, Gerald Stanley. Died 7th Jul 1916

Gerald Stanley Lewis’s is another soldier whose life story is virtually unknown. [He was born in New Zealand – see Comments. There is a picture of him here.] He was probably one of the many who migrated to Rugby to work in the engineering businesses, before the First War, and thus are not recorded in the town for the 1911 census. He is recorded on the Willans and Robinson Drawing Office Memorial Plaque and was no doubt working there before the war.

Whilst known as ‘Gerald Stanley’ on the Willans Memorial, he was ‘Gerald S’ on his Medal Card, and as ‘Gerald Sydney’ on the CWGC records. However, with matching army numbers, it appears that they are the one individual.

Gerald Lewis joined up and served as a Private, No.16365, in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. The activities of the Battalion are recorded below:[1]

 9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was raised at Hounslow on 21 August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s First New Army and joined 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. 36th Brigade underwent training at Colchester then final training was undertaken near Aldershot from 20 February 1915, with the cavalry, motor machine gun battery, sanitary and veterinary sections joining. The Division proceeded to France between 29 May and 1 June 1915 landing at Boulogne, they concentrated near St Omer and by 6 June were in the Meteren-Steenwerck area with Divisional HQ being established at Nieppe.

Gerald S Lewis’s Medal Card shows that he was in France from 20 July 1915, so he crossed over to France some six weeks after his Battalion, possibly he was still under training, but could have arrived in time to take part in the Battle of Loos.

They [the Division] underwent instruction from the more experienced 49th (South Midland) Division and took over a section of the front line at Ploegsteert Wood on 23 June 1915. They were in action in the Battle of Loos from 30 September, taking over the sector from Gun Trench to Hulluch Quarries consolidating the position, under heavy artillery fire. On 9 October they repelled a heavy German infantry attack and on the 13 October took part in the Action of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, capturing Gun Trench and the south western face of the Hulluch Quarries. During this period at Loos, 117 officers and 3237 men of the Division were killed or wounded. By 21 October they moved to Fouquieres-les-Bethune for a short rest then returned to the front line at the Hohenzollern Redoubt until 15 November, when they went into reserve at Lillers. On 9 December, 9th Royal Fusiliers assisted in a round-up of spies and other suspicious characters in the streets of Bethune. On 10 December, the Division took over the front line north of La Bassee canal at Givenchy. On 19 January they began a period of training in Open Warfare at Busnes, then moved back into the front line at Loos on 12 February 1916. In June they moved to Flesselles and carried out a training exercise.

The Battalion was then involved in the Battle of the Somme.

They moved to Baizieux on 30 June and went into the reserve at Hencourt and Millencourt by mid morning on 1 July. They relieved the 9th Division at Ovillers-la-Boisselle that night and attacked at 3.15 the following morning with mixed success. On 7 July they attacked again and despite suffering heavy casualties in the area of Mash Valley, they succeeded in capturing and holding the first and second lines close to Ovillers. They were withdrawn to Contay on 9 July.[2]

It was presumably during the action in Mash Valley that Gerald was ‘Killed in Action’ on 7 July 1916 as recorded on his Medal Card. He is listed as ‘Gerald Sydney Lewis’ by the CWGC, as one of those killed or missing on 7 July 1916 and whose body was not found or identified. He is remembered on Pier and Face 8C, 9A and 16A, of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and on the Willans Drawing Office Metal Memorial Plaque.

Gerald Stanley Lewis was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Gerald Stanley Lewis was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=6896

[2]       Edited from: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=6896

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2 thoughts on “Lewis, Gerald Stanley. Died 7th Jul 1916

  1. Gerald Stanley Lewis.

    ARCHIVES NZ SOURCE Base records file 1919

    FULL NAME Gerald Stanley Lewis
    RANK LAST HELD Private
    FORENAME(S) Gerald Stanley
    SURNAME Lewis
    ALSO KNOWN AS Gerald Sydney Lewis
    WAR World War I, 1914-1918
    SERIAL NO. 16365
    GENDER Male
    DATE OF BIRTH 1887 [so age 29]
    PLACE OF BIRTH Wellington, New Zealand
    FIRST KNOWN RANK Private
    MILITARY DISTRICT Rugby, England
    MILITARY AWARDS 1914-1915 Star
    British War Medal (1914-1920)
    And Victory Medal
    LAST UNIT SERVED 9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
    PLACE OF DEATH Somme, France
    DATE OF DEATH 7 July 1916
    YEAR OF DEATH 1916
    CAUSE OF DEATH Killed in action
    MEMORIAL NAME
    Thiepval Memorial, Authuile, Somme, France
    MEMORIAL REFERENCE
    Pier and Face 8C, 9A and 16A.
    BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
    Son of Henry Jonathan and Mary Lewis
    “Killed in action on July 7th, 1916, during the early stages of the Somme battles, won considerable distinction as coxswain of the boat when at School. He left in 1903 [so age 16] , and was apprenticed to a firm of engineers in Auckland, where he gained much valuable experience, afterwards proceeding to England to join the Diesel Oil Engine Company. He was training for ten months at Home before going to France [10/14 to 8/15], where he took part in the fighting for eleven months [8/15 to 7/16].” (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School])
    DESCRIPTION OF IMAGE
    Portrait from In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School], 1919[?]

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Served as Gerald Sydney Lewis, and listed as this by CWGC, Rolls of Honour
    Birth registered as Gerald Stanley Lewis
    ARCHIVES NZ SOURCE
    Base records file 1919
    SOURCES USED
    Commonwealth War Graves Commission. URL: http://www.cwgc.org
    In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School], Wanganui Chronicle Co. Ltd. [printer], Wanganui, 1919[?]
    Births, Deaths and Marriages (New Zealand) Historical Records online

    Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919 Transcription

    First name(s) GERALD SYDNEY
    Last name LEWIS
    Service number 10365 [error – actually 16365]
    Rank PRIVATE
    Regiment Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
    Battalion 9th Battalion.
    Birth place WELLINGTON, N.Z.
    Residence RUGBY
    Enlistment place RUGBY
    Death year 1916
    Death day 7
    Death month 7
    Cause of death Killed in action
    Death place France & Flanders
    Theatre of war Western European Theatre
    Supplementary Notes FORMERLY 26399, HUSSARS OF THE LINE.
    Category Military, armed forces & conflict
    Record collection First World War
    Collections from Great Britain

    CWGC site.

    LEWIS, GERALD SYDNEY
    Rank: Private
    Service No: 16365
    Date of Death: 07/07/1916
    Regiment/Service: Royal Fusiliers 9th Bn.
    Panel Reference: Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A.
    Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

    From Rugby Remembers site.
    He is recorded on the volunteer lists. List No:3 – printed 5.9.1914 – so he must have joined up in late August 1914.

    From Great War Forum.

    ‘Hussars of the Line’ is the collective name for the group of Hussars’ regiments and was used when men enlisted in the Corps of Hussars (not an army Corps in that sense) and were then allocated/opted for a particular unit.

    9th (Service) Battalion
    Formed at Hounslow on 21 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under command of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division.
    Landed in France in May 1915.

    From his MIC.
    Landed France 20/7/1915.

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