Staff Stories – Gill DisleyMarch 19, 2014 3:53 pm
Gill had three relatives who fought in the First World War.
Her Great-Grandfather, Leon Wood, was a Lance Corporal with the Royal Engineers and was killed on 29th March 1918 in the second battle of the Somme. He was 32 and is commemorated at the Pozieres memorial, which records the names of 14,692 British and South African soldiers with no known grave who were killed between 21 March 1918 and 8 August 1918. He had been told he didn’t need to continue fighting but chose to go back.
Gill’s Grandfather, Thomas Disley, was a Sergeant in a cavalry unit, the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers, and went to France in 1914 as soon as war broke out, as part of the British Expeditionary Force. After 1914 he served in the trenches as the cavalry was not effective in the face of machine guns and shelling. He was wounded by shrapnel at the second battle of Ypres in 1915 but continued to fight for the rest of the war, including the last stage of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was not demobilised until January 1920, and was awarded the Mons Star and the General Service and Victory Medals – these were jokingly called ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’.
Although he was happy to see Gill studying the First World War as a schoolgirl, he didn’t really talk about his experiences. According to the official entry he took part in the Retreat from Mons and in the battles of the Marne, the Aisne, Ypres and Neuve Chapelle. He went on to fight on the Ancre (part of the battle of the Somme in 1916) and later at Trones and Havrincourt Woods in the Retreat and Advance of 1918.
Thomas’s father Charles Disley volunteered in 1915 and fought in Egypt at Mersa Matruh, Agayia, El Fasher, Romani and Magdhaba. In 1917 he was transferred to France and fought at Arras, Bullecourt, the Siegfried Line, Lens and Cambrai before being discharged due to illness in February 1918. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the General Service and Victory Medals.
On the home front, Gill’s Great-Auntie Eva’s fiancé was killed in WWI, and she never married after that.
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Categorised in: WWI Centenary
This post was written by Lynn Scrivener