Gregory Joseph Cleaver was born in Rugby in 1890. His father was Thomas Howlett Cleaver and Jemima Mary (nee Vickers). Thomas met his wife in Alton, Staffordshire where her father worked at the stone quarry there. Thomas was a clerk and they married in 1870. By 1881 the family was living in Caldecote, near Nuneaton and Thomas was a Builder’s Agent; a job which involved a lot of travel judging by the birth places of his children. By 1890, when Gregory, their youngest child (of nine, two others had died) was born, they were back in Rugby and in 1901 Thomas was a Builder’s Surveyor living at 51 Victoria Street. Gregory Joseph was aged 11.
Gregory Joseph cannot be found in the 1911 census. He would have been with the army in India. His mother had died and is father was a publican at the Horse and Jockey Inn in Lawford Road.
By the start of the war, Gregory Joseph Cleaver returned to England with the 3rd Bn, Kings Royal Rifle corps. They arrived on 18th November 1914 and as a regular soldier probably helped to train the new recruits. He arrived in France in 2nd Feb 1915, private no 7792 in the 12th Bn KRRC.
He was wounded in two different engagements. Perhaps it was while recovering from one of these that he met and married Agnes Daisy Richardson. They married in the Ipswich registration district in the June quarter of 1915. A daughter Zita A Cleaver (named after Gregory’s sister) was born a year later, but died soon after.
In August/September 1916, the 12th Bn, Kings Royal Rifle Corps was in the trenches of the Somme. From the beginning of September they moved from Carnoy to Guillemont, back to Carnoy, then Corbie and Meaulte. On the 15th Sept they arrived in Carnoy again. At 3am on the morning of the 16th they moved up to Waterlot Farm and on the 18th they were in the front line “in front of Ginchy”
The War Diary reports that at 2.30 pm:
“Enemy counter attacked in force. “B” Company forced to give way a little but our being reinforced immediately drove enemy back to his own trenches, inflicting considerable loss.”
It is in this action that Rifleman Gregory Joseph Cleaver must have died.
He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
His death was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 14th October 1916.
“Rifleman Gregory Cleaver Killed.
Mr T H Cleaver, late of the Horse and Jockey Inn, Rugby, has just received official information that his youngest son, Rifleman Gregory Cleaver, of the King’s Royal Rifles, was killed in action on September 18th. Rifleman Cleaver came from India, where he had served six years, after the War commenced. He had been wounded in two different engagements, and had only returned to the trenches a month when he was killed.”
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM