Gilbert appears on the 1901 census living with his family at 87 High Street Connah’s Quay. The family consisted of the father Thomas B Bennett, a 43 year old self employed publican who was a native of Connah’s Quay. His wife was Catherine aged 39, originally from Birkenhead. The eleven children were Thomas C 20 an apprentice to a fitter. Elizabeth M was 18.Gwendoline was 15 and apprenticed to a dressmaker. Benjamin was 13, Sarah 11, Catherine 10, Fergus 8, Grace 6, Gilbert 5, Mary 3, Phyllis 8 months. Elizabeth Lewis was a 30 year old general servant. All the children had been born in Connah’s Quay.
Ten years on and the 1911 census tells us that the family was living in The New Inn, Connah’s Quay. Thomas B Bennett was now 53 and a widower. He described himself as a licensed victualler. Eight children were still living at home. Sarah Arnold Bennett was 21, Catherine 20, Fergus 18 and Grace 16. These four eldest all worked in the family business. The next four were still at school, Gilbert 15, Mary 13, Phyllis 10 and John 8. Daisy Ratcliffe was a 19 year old servant.
UK Soldiers who died in the Great War 1914 -19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk gives us all the above regimental details plus the additional information that the 6th Dragoon Guards were a Battalion of the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line (incl Yeomanry and Imperial Camel Corps). It tells us that Gilbert enlisted in Wrexham and that he died of wounds.
His medal card (www.ancestry .co.uk) tells us that his first Theatre of War was in France and that he entered it on 17th March 1915.
The UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 in which the army calculated whay moneys were owed to deceased soldiers, includes an entry for |Gilbert Bennett. His Sole Legatee was his Father, Thomas Brown Bennett who was paid £5.19s 4d on the 12th October 1915 and Gilbert’s War Gratuity of £3. 0s 0d on the 28th June 1919.
There is a card for Gilbert in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the County Archive Office in Hawarden. (Connah’s Quay F2) However this states that his Regtl. No. was 10183 and he was in the 4th Dragoons Caribiniers and not the 6th. This confirms that he first went to France from Southampton on 17th March 1915 and Died of Wounds 8th May 1915 at Baileull, France. The card was signed on the 30th Nov. 1919 by Thomas B Bennett, his father.
Gilbert is named on the memorial plaque inside St Mark’s Church Connah’s Quay. His name is also on the Hawarden War Memorial and the Hawarden County School Roll of Honour.
There is a memorial stone for him in Connah’s Quay Cemetery. The inscription says
‘Wounded near Ypres May 2nd 1915. Gilbert Bennett, H.M.6 Dragoon Guards, died at Bailleul, May 8th 1915 age 19 years. Grave 893 Bailleul Cemetery. Greater love hath no man than this’ .
War Diaries of the 6th Caribiniers for the 2nd May 1915 at G.H.Q Trenches,near Ypres.
In the trenches all day. All was quiet during morning and the early part of the afternoon. Weather rather misty.
4.pm Orders received to get all entrenching tools collected in view of relief during the night.
5.pm Orders received for Regt. to evacuate trenches and march back to our horses near VLAMERTINGHE at 5.30 pm.
5.5 pm A C Sqdn sentry reported that he could see German gas blowing in our direction so respirators were at once put on. A very heavy rifle fire commenced and we were very heavily shelled with high explosive shells, full of gas. This bombardment lasted until 7 pm. And was extremely violent. A few men were overcome by the gas but the respirators proved to be efficient.
5.15 pm Troops on our left seen to be going back from their trenches, having suffered badly from the gas so part of 3rd Cav. Bde. were brought up in their place and our left flank was made secure.
Gas did not appear to effect the front line trenches and the German attack was nor pressed.
- pm. Line reported to be intact.
The Regt. had a few casualties from the bombardment but owing to the men keeping well under cover we did not suffer very heavily.
From the 3rd to the 8th of May, the Diary records only that they were marching, entrenching, exercising horses etc., etc., but no fighting whatsoever, so I suspect that Gilbert was injured on the 2nd May and died afterwards of his wounds, whether that was through the gas or the bombardment on that day, we do not know.
The photograph below shows No 8 Casualty Clearing Station Bailleul on 2 May 1915. Then men are victims of the chlorine gas attack on Hill 60 of the previous day, mainly 1/Dorsets, placed outside to aid their breathing. Many thanks to Simon Jones on The Great War Forum http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/81740-casualty-clearing-station-no-2-8-bailleul-1914-17.