Montgomery, Herbert. Died 27th Mar 1917

Herbert was born in 1877 at Ashby St Ledgers, Northamptonshire, son of Dennis and Harriet Montgomery. He lived at home with his parents in Ashby until his marriage. This took place on 12 June 1905 at Great Creaton. He was 26, a stockman, and his bride Kate Mary Johnson was 21 and born in Hollowell. They were living in Ashby in 1911 with their two daughters, Violet and Gertrude. Herbert probably worked for the Ashby estate which owned most of the village.

His service record has been destroyed, but he joined the Essex Regiment, 1/5 Bn, service number 251731, probably as he had a family after conscription was introduced in early 1916. This battalion had formed part of the 161st (Essex) Brigade which was sent to Gallipoli where it landed in August 1915 to try to restart the campaign there, but was withdrawn to Alexandria that December, and remained in the Egypt/Palestine theatre.

Early in 1917 the Brigade crossed the Sinai Desert to take part in the Palestine Campaign. The First Battle of Gaza took place on 26 March 1917.

The Battle was the first attempt by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) to invade the south of Palestine in the Ottoman Empire. Fighting took place in and around the town of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast when infantry and mounted infantry from the Desert Column, a component of the Eastern Force, attacked the town. Late in the afternoon, on the verge of capturing Gaza, the Desert Column was withdrawn due to concerns about the approaching darkness and large Ottoman reinforcements.

The Essex Brigade was ordered to take Green Hill towards the end of the day. Despite heavy fighting, it was a complete success, but they were then ordered to withdraw. The Turks had not reoccupied the position overnight. Patrols were sent out but a Turkish counter-attack finished the battle. There were 228 casualties on Green Hill.

It seems that Herbert was wounded in this fighting, and died the next day

Gaza War Cemetery from the CWGC website

He is buried in Gaza War Cemetery together with a number of other men from his regiment. His outstanding pay of £2 2s and a war gratuity of £3 were sent to his widow Kate, the sole legatee of his will. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.

He is commemorated on the War Memorial at Ashby St Ledgers (Three of the six names on the memorial are Montgomery), but it is not absolutely certain that this is the man whose name is on the Rugby Memorial Gates, although he seems the likeliest candidate of all the men named H Montgomery on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

The whereabouts of his family after the war is unknown.




Sources: Census returns, parish registers for Ashby St Ledgers & Creaton, and Register of Soldiers Effects on Ancestry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, wikipedia

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