Recognising Gunner Gilbert Hardy Midgley: drowned 24th March 1916

There is a relatively simple process of supplying information to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to see if a man can be included to their Perpetual Roll of Honour for the war dead, if you feel they should be. You do have to prove the case of course and there has to be written proof a man died in service,  or a causal link has to be established between a man's death and the war. For example, if a man left the Army due to illness which was caused by his war service and this is recorded on his service record, then he later dies of the same illness, then you have a good case, but his death certificate must show this and all evidence must be sound. Seems pretty reasonable to us.

We recently investigated the credentials of a Keighley man, Gunner Gilbert Hardy Midgley of the Royal Garrison Artillery, and we submitted him to the CWGC for inclusion in January 2017. We await a decision on his case.

Gilbert arrived at Great Yarmouth on 23rd March 1916 and was issued with his uniform. According to witness statements, the next day he parcelled off his civilian clothes home to Keighley from Great Yarmouth and walked back to the barracks at night. According to the newspaper reports of the inquest, witnesses also stated that because of the blackout and his unfamiliarity with the area, he probably took a wrong turn towards the fish quay and simply walked over the edge into the River Yare at 21:50. The Army court-martialled him a month later as he was still marked as absent without leave and a list was produced of his missing kit, this was everything a soldier would have been wearing, including his great coat. If he was wearing that as well then he wouldn't have stood a chance in the water at night. The 31st May coroners inquest into his death recorded: "accidentally drowned through falling into river" and this was recorded on his death certificate, as was his occupation: Gunner, R.G.A.
Alderman Midgley gravestoneWe believe Gilbert's is a clear cut case and that he deserves to be added to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's 'Perpetual Roll of Honour'. His grave is unmarked at Utley Cemetery in Keighley, West Yorkshire. His mother Jane Midgley is also buried in the same plot.

Gilbert's father was Alderman John William Midgley O.B.E., one-time Mayor of Keighley whose ashes are scattered elsewhere. A stone remembering John is laid on the grave but it does not mention Gilbert or his wife Jane.

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