Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

September 2016

This months News



Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

At this time of remembrance for the fallen of the Somme, it was interesting to read in last month’s News about the story of Charles Joseph Reason of Tysoe who died on 30th July, 1916 during that conflict.  In Oxhill, we should also honour the memory of the two Gilks brothers from our village both killed on the Somme.  I related their history some years ago in an article of August, 2006, but it is worth the retelling.  

Both were sons of John Gilks, (full name Wheeler John), and his wife Elizabeth Ellen.   Both were born in districts in the London area, (much more rural then), where their father was working at the time as a gardener.   After he was widowed in 1902, John brought his family to live near his many other relatives in Oxhill, settling at Sunnyside, now Gilks Cottage in Gilkes Lane.  His niece Evelyn Colyer later remembered him as a “landscape gardener” with his work mainly in larger gardens outside the village.

Arthur Wilfred Gilks was born in 1892, and died on 1st July, 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme, aged 24, one of nearly 20,000 killed that day. He was serving in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. He has no known grave, but his name is listed on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme.

His elder brother John Frederick was born in 1886, and died on 12th October, 1916, aged 30, while serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment, (not the 12th Battalion as listed on our Roll of Honour).   This was the time of the Battle of le Transloy, a major battle of the Somme, when on 12th October, the 1st Essex Battalion fought alongside the Newfoundland Regiment at the village of Gueudecourt, five kilometres south of Bapaume.   John Frederick was buried in the Bancourt British Cemetery near Calais, which was designed by Edwin Lutyens, and largely formed after the war when burials were brought in from battlefields in the area.

Their father John lived on at Sunnyside until his death in 1936. He was survived by a further two sons and four daughters, of whom two, Minnie and Mabel lived with him and cared for him in old age.  A newspaper report of his funeral dated 29th August, 1936 writing of the loss of his two sons, said that he “bore his affliction with patience and fortitude”, and described him as a man of a quiet disposition who was held in high esteem.

Ann Hale

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Last modified: September 07, 2016