H. B. Gayton
Service no. 6172
Private, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 7th Battalion
Died age 24 on 18 December 1917
Awarded the Military Medal
CWGC: “Son of Mr and Mrs F. M. Gayton, of 51 Clifton Street, Clapham, London.”
Remembered at the Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium
British Army WWI Service Records 1914-1920
Harry Bird Gayton was born in Battersea in about 1894. He volunteered on 12 April 1915 and was enlisted into the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment. He gave his age as 21 years and 194 days and his occupation as “tripe dresser”. Gayton stood 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a 36½ inch chest. He had a small scar on the left side of his forehead. He wore upper dentures.
While with his regiment at Chatham, in July 1915 he was disciplined for failing to comply with an order, for which he was punished with 7 days confinement to barracks. He was posted with the British Expeditionary Force on 1 November 1915 and took part in the Battle of Ypres, where he was wounded – he received a gunshot wound to the right arm – on 28 February 1916. He was not admitted to hospital until 10 March. It must have been a wound of some seriousness as Gayton was operated on on 17 March (shrapnel was removed) and remained in hospital for 28 days, after which he rejoined his unit.
Gayton received a Military Medal for actions on 15 September 1917 (we don’t know what these are), but on 15 December he received shrapnel wounds to his knee and right leg. He was admitted to 61 Casualty Clearing station but died of his wounds on 19 December.
The war office sent his effects to his family, including letters, cards, photos, religious books, wallet, cap badge, broken false teeth.
In May 1918 the Infantry Record Office wrote to Gayton’s mother Finetta asking how she would like to receive his Military Medal – privately by post or at a presentation. She opted to have it sent and she later acknowledged its receipt:
“Sir, received the medal quite safe and thank you very much I only wish the dear Boy was here to wear it, yours gratefully F. M. Gayton”
Information from the 1911 census
Robert Gayton, 44, an engine driver for the London and South West Railway Company originally from Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, and Finetta Mary Gayton, 45, from Marks Tey, Essex had 5 sons surviving (of 6 children):
Arthur William Gayton, 20, an off-licence assistant, born in Twickenham, Middlesex
Edmund James Gayton, 19, an office lad for the London and South West Railway, born in Twickenham, Middlesex
Harry Bird Gayton, 17, a shop assistant, born in Battersea
William Robert Gayton, 12, born in Lambeth
Alfred Ernest Gayton, 7, born in Lambeth
The family lived in 4 rooms at 51 Clifton Street, Clapham.