THE LIFE AND TIMES OF
CHARLES GRAY GOSLING GILBERT, O.B.E., M.C.
27 November, 1839 9 September, 1981.
Published by his sons Glyn, John and David.
One of my earliest recollections was of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and I probably remember this only because the lining of the roads by the troops on that occasion made a deep impression on me. At the time there were two batalions of infantry as well as engineers and gunners stationed in Bermuda. Now, of course, there is no garrison, and the former barracks at Prospect and St. George's are occupied by the police and by schools of various kinds......
My earliest freind was Joe Trimingham, who was a first cousin of mine, and on the death of his parents when he was very young had been given a home at Inglewood.....
As Joe and I grew older, we saw more of Joe's two brothers, Wentworth (known as Pup) and Harold, and in the end we became an almost inseperable band of four, who roamed without restriction over the properties of Inglewood, Strawberry Hill and Huntly (later used for interning enemy nationals)and other properties as well.........Eugene Gosling from Highwood was our great standby, as he used to come over most evenings for a bathe during the summer....
As time went on, our group of four inevitably began to break up. Wentworth left school and took a job, Harold was awarded the Bermuda Scholarship and went to school in England and I followed him two years later. Wentworth and Joe went with the first Bermuda Contingent to France and neither came back. Joe was killed by a stray bullet while the contingent were in a position near the Front Line not long after their arrival in France, and Wentworth later on died of pneumonia. Harold in the Queen's Westminister Rifles and I in the Royal West Kents and the Machine Gun Corps both survived the War.
Page 6 Education
... Outdoor activities at the School (Saltus) consisted of cricket, association football, athletics and the cadet corps........In the cadet Corps, I became the senior N.C.O., with the rank of Colour Sergeant. We were taken to shoot on the open range at an early age and were issued with old fashioned carbines (Martinis) for this purpose. These weapons had a kick of which an exuberant mule would not have been ashamed, and I remember that my mother made a pad which I used to slip under my coat to stop the bruising. My jaw, however, used to be sore for several days after I had been firing. In spite of these handicaps, I became quite good and represented my school in England on a number of occasions, usually on a range near Staines, but several times at Bisley.
In 1911 I was awarded the Bermuda Scholarship and entered Ivyholme, Dulwich College, in September of that year.....
I enjoyed my school holidays (in Canterbury,).....Harold Trimingham, who was then at Oxford, used to join us when he was on vacation, and one or two local boys were also constant visitors.
(After entering Oxford,) I spent the summer in Bermuda - my first for three years - and while I was there war broke out. It was thought at first that it would not last long, and some even said it would be over by Christmas, but after some months it was realized that a long war lay ahead, although very few, I think, had any idea it would last as long as it did. I had returned to Oxford to continue my course, but I soon found that my thoughts were more on the War than on my work and I applied for and obtained a comission through the O.T.C. in the following March. I had joined the O.T.C. (Officers Training Corps), which had been placed more or less on a war footing, on my return from Bermuda.
The War (1914-1918)
When I look back on my experiences during the First World War my main feeling, I think, is one of satisfaction that I played a part in the greatest War of all times, and also, of course, thankfulness that I survived when so many thousands died. One thought that often occurs to me is that if I had not survived, the Gilbert family in Bermuda would have become extinct after living on the Island for a period of more than 350 years. Now that I am fortunate enough to have three sons and four grandsons and also three grandaughters, I think that the family is reasonably well established once more.
It would be a mistake to think that the War was a period of unmitigated gloom for those who took part in it. On the contrary, we were quite a cheerful lot on the whole and for my part I feel sure that I became more cheerful and alert during my service in France and Belgium than I was during my period of training in the United Kingdom. One tends, as one gets older, to remember the pleasant rather than the unpleasant events of earlier years, which may be a provision of Nature, and I think I can truthfully say that in spite of some very bad periods the War in certain respects provided some of the happiest years of my life. There was the companionship and good fellowship and a feeling of general well-being, which was no doubt largely due to one's youth and physical fitness. I had two short illnesses during the War. The first was German measles, which a number of us contracted during our machine gun course at Grantham in the early part of 1916. Although we felt quite fit after a few days, we were kept in quarantine for about a fortnight, and I remember that we spent most of our time playing bridge for 1d. points. I was lucky and left hospitalabout 15/- to the good. The only other illness I hadd was Spanish Flu, which spread like widfire through both the British and German Armies in 1918. It also spread over the whole world, and as some races seemed unable to stand up to it, many more people, it was said, ddied of this disease than were killed in the War. Our own ranks, although I cannot recall that there were any very serious cases, were so depleted that cavalry units were sent up to help man our guns. We wondered rather maliciously how they enjoyed being in the trenches for a change. Spanish Flu, if contracted, came on very quickly and without warning. I remember that I had just left my dug-out and was walking down the trench when suddenly I felt so dizzy that I had to go back and lie down. The mess cart was sent up, as far as it would go, to take me down to our billets. I staggered on to it and although there was some shelling going on, we got down safely and I took to my camp bed at once in a room already occupied by some fellow sufferers. We were not, however, very ill and within a week we were on our feet again. Apart from these two illnesses, I kept perfectly well during the whole of the war. It is remarkable really what one can stand when one is young and fit. I recall that on one occasion I was in a very active part of the line and had been wet through for five days and nights. Food, also, was scarce and consisted of cold snacks only. When I was relieved, I found that my feet were sore and that walking was very painful. i was limping slowly along the road when some charitable soul in a supply wagon gave me a lift back to where my Company was encamped. My batman thoughtfully prepared a hot bath for me, which I took in the canvas bath included in my field service kit. This refreshed me greatly, and after a sound sleep I felt perfectly well the following morning.
Before going on to describe my war experience in some detail, I should refer to my meeting with Marjorie Stanford, who was to become my wife and the mother of my three sons - Glyn, John and David.
At the end of the last chapter I referred to my obtaining a commission from the Oxford O.T.C. This was in the 8Bn. the Royal West Kent Regiment, which was at Worthing when i joined, but very shortly afterwards we moved to Redhill to dig trenches for the defence of London, we were told, but no doubt also to give us practice