FRANCIS WILBERFORCE GACCON
Divisional Commander, A.F.S. (Auxiliary Fire Service), Cardiff City Fire Brigade,
Francis ‘Frank’ Wilberforce Gaccon was born on 6th April 1888. His father was Watkin Gaccon, originally from Aberdare and a marine engine engineer. His mother was Alice Charlotte Morgan originally from Overton, Gloucestershire. Frank grows up in 96 Habershon Street, Splott where he went to Splottlands School and Cardiff University College (1904-11). He followed his father into engineering. During WWI he worked for Bute Docks Engineers and Shipping Company under the Admiralty fitting engines to lifeboats of hospital ships. After WWI he started up his own successful company, Frank Gaccon & Co Consulting Engineer. Frank had a successful sporting career. He played 105 times for Cardiff Rugby Club. He married three times and had one daughter. When WWII was declared Frank joined Cardiff Auxiliary Fire Service and became Commander of the Cardiff A.F.S. He was killed in Newport Road when a German bomb dropped on his car whilst on duty on 3rd March, 1941. He was 53 years of age at the time and living at 153 Cyncoed Road. He is buried at Cathays Cemetery, Plot: M 948a. He is remembered on a plaque in Cardiff Fire Station to those who died on duty.
WILLIAM NORMAN GEDDIE
Flight Sergeant, RAF Volunteer Reserve (Wireless Op./Air Gunner)
William Geddie was born in May 1914 in Cardiff to William Geddie, a merchant seaman and Letitia Maud Geddie (née Walrond). The family lived at 146 Kimberley Road, Penylan, Cardiff. William was a Flight Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) 76th Squadron in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. He died on 17th Sept 1942 aged 28. The memorial states that he died at Essen. He is buried at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery south of Calais in France (Plot 8. Row A. Coll. grave 10-13). He is remembered on the Albany Road Baptist Church war memorial plaque. Commonwealth War Graves Commission page. In a second tragedy to strike the family, another son Robert Geddie, aged 34, died in a cycling accident in 1950.
JOHN ANGEL GIBBS
Major, 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment
John Angel Gibbs was born in 1880 at 12 St Andrew’s Crescent, Cardiff to John Angel Gibbs, a ship broker, originally from Waterford, Ireland, and Elizabeth Gibbs née Scriven, originally from Portland, Dorset. His father died when he was just 4. In 1891, at the age of 10, he was attending Queen’s College, Taunton. By 1901 he was working as an accountant and living at Marine Parade, Penarth, with his siblings. He played rugby for Penarth RFC in a team that beat the Barbarians. In 1910 he married his cousin Susan Gladys Morel, daughter of Sir Thomas Morel, Mayor of Cardiff. They had a son together, John Morel Gibbs, born in Aug 1912. In the 1911 census John Angel Gibbs is living in Penarth with his wife and lists his profession as ship owner. He enlisted with the 13th Battalion Welch Regiment. He goes to France in 1916 by which time he has transferred to the 9th battalion. By the end of 1916 he has been promoted to Major and awarded a DSO. In early 1917 he was taken ill with appendicitis and came home for surgery. He returned to the Western Font and was killed on 20 Sep 1917, aged 37, at the Battle of the Menin Road. He is buried at the Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium (plot H25). In his Will he left money for an orphanage in Penarth for children whose fathers didn’t return from the war which was called the J.A.Gibbs Memorial Home. The school changed name and purpose over the years and is now run by the charity Action for Children and called Headlands School. He is remembered on the Coal Exchange memorial plaque and the war memorial plaque at Queen’s College, Taunton. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His grandson Simon Gibbs is currently writing a book about Major J.A.Gibbs.
ATHOL THOMAS GIBSON
Captain, 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment
Athol Thomas Gibson was born on 11 Mar 1878 at 6 Wordsworth Street, Roath, to Thomas Gibson, a ship’s store merchant, and Mary Gibson née Pye, both originally from originally from North Shields, Northumberland. In 1881 the family were living at 5 Marlborough Terrace, Newport Road, Cardiff (now 108 Newport Road). In 1891, at the age of 13, Thomas was away at school in Warminster. His mother died in 1893 and his father remarried his aunt, Alice Pye, in Jersey. The London Gazette of Dec 1899 records that Athol Thomas Gibson served as 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Glamorganshire Regiment (whether he ever served in South Africa is not clear). By 1901 the Gibson family had moved to Penarth and Athol was working as a clearing clerk in the firm S.D.Jenkins & Co. He married Elizabeth Pyman, daughter of another Cardiff shipping merchant, on 1 Jun 1907. In the 1911 census they have moved to Porthcawl with the Pyman family. Athol was a keen golfer and played in the Welsh team against Ireland in July 1914 at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. He was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant to the 3rd South Lancashire Regiment at the outbreak of war in Aug 1914 and was promoted the following month to Lieutenant. He served with the Expeditionary force in France. He was posted to France joining the ranks of the 2nd South Lancs at Neuve Chapelle in the rank of Captain and and was killed in action on 21 Oct 1914 aged 41. His burial place is unknown but he is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial in France. He is also remembered on the Coal Exchange War Memorial plaque in Cardiff Bay and the Penarth War Memorial in Alexandra Park, St Augustine’s war memorial plaque, Penarth, and the Glamorganshire Golf Club memorial plaque plus the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club memorial plaque and a plaque to gold club members in All Saints church, Porthcawl. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
GEORGE HENRY GIFFORD
Private, C Company, 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment (Service Number: 285314)
George Henry Gifford was born in 1883 in Manordilo, Carmarthenshire to Henry Stuckey Gifford, a coachman and butler, originally from Petherton, Somerset and Balbina Basteracha, a maid, originally from Busturia, Biscay, Spain. George was one of fourteen children born to Henry and Balbina. The Gifford family moved from Carmarthenshire to London, apart from George Gifford who moved to Roath, Cardiff and worked for the Western Mail as a compositor. He married Amy Matilda Lovell in St Margaret’s parish church Roath in Aug 1911 and they lived at 40 Broadway. They had two children together, Ernald Henry Gifford born in 1912 and Constance Margaret Gifford born in 1915. George enlisted first with the Monmouthshire Regiment and then transferred to the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. He was killed on 13 June 1918 aged 35, north of Albert, France, near today’s border with Belgium. He is buried at the Varennes Military Cemetery (grave III. G. 13). He is remembered on the Western Mail Roll of Honour. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His son Ernald also worked in the media business becoming a sports journalist in London. His parents, Henry and Balbina, were married for seventy years and both lived into their nineties.
ARTHUR EDWARD GILMORE
Private, 11th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, (Service Number: 22688).
Arthur Edward Gilmore was born on 4 Feb 1889 to Thomas George Gilmore, an engine driver for a tug company, and originally from Pill, Somerset and Mary Jane Gilmore nee Rodledge originally from Bristol. Arthur and his twin brother Edward were the youngest of eight children and grew up in the Canton area of Cardiff. Their mother died when they are just three years old. In 1911 Arthur is living in the Clifton Hotel in Clifton Street and working as the resident barman. When war came he enlisted at Newport and eventually went to France with the 11th battalion South Wales Borderers in Dec 1915. Has fatally wounded during the fighting at Mametz Wood. During the latter stages of the action his battalion, the 11th South Wales Borderers suffered grievous casualties during the hand to hand combat that marked their capture of the north end of the wood. Their ranks were then further depleted by heavy shellfire when they reluctantly withdrew after their flank was compromised by a German flammenwerfer attack. Arthur was 27 when he died from his wounds on 16 Jul 1916. His stepmother Eva received his effects but rejected the offer of a pension in 1920. He was laid to rest in Etaples Military Cemetery (grave XIV. A. 4A), with his sister Lillian providing the epitaph for his grave -‘His name liveth for evermore’. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
WALTER FRANCIS GRAVES
Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Walter Francis Graves was born on 19 Dec 1884 in Hornsey, Middlesex to Walter Graves, an architect, originally from St Pancras, London, and Fanny Graves née Francis, originally from Holborn, London.
The following is from the Bedfordshire Regiment website: Spending his younger years in Islington, education at Worthing College, then Haileybury College followed. Walter spent a 3 year apprenticeship at “a large London Engineering firm”, joining the Bedfordshire Regiment’s 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion. He was attached to the 1st Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry until the death of his father in June 1907, at which time he had to retire following family pressures.
In Jul 1908 he moved to Cardiff where he established himself as a partner in the coal and pit wood exporter Messrs Williams, Ambrose and Graves, based from at Cardiff Docks. He had a deep interest in social, educational and municipal matters and was asked to run for the Roath Conservative Ward which he won in November 1912. Walter was active in many committees including every mental health group he could help with. By this time, Walter had developed a reputation as a “Young man of great promise”.
When war broke out he relinquished his seat, announcing that he had to “rejoin the regiment” but did not wish to draw an income and leave his constituency without full time support. Walter was reinstated as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion in August 1914, his promotion to Lieutenant following on 3 September 1914.
Lieutenant Graves was in a large draft which landed in France 15 September, finally arriving with the 1st Battalion on the front lines on 14 October, during the Battle of La Bassee. They were involved in the heavy fighting around Givenchy until the end of the month, being pulled from the line and rushed north to Ypres, to help hold the line against the latest German attacks. After going into the front line in the woods around Herentage Chateau, east of Ypres, on 6 Nov, Lieutenant Graves was killed during the heavy fighting as the British line held back the massed German assault of 7 Nov 1914.
Although his official date of death is recorded as the 9th Nov in some documents, eye witness sources refer to his death being on the 7th when the battalion were heavily engaged rather than the 9th when the fighting had died down considerably. Walter’s grave was initially unknown but a year after his death, a wounded 1st Bedfordshires’ Sergeant in hospital reported that it was “buried 600 yards south-east of the portion of ornamental water in the Herontage (sic) Chateau grounds”.
As the family had nowhere to focus their mourning, the memorial plaque below was erected by his widowed mother (Mrs. Fanny Graves) in the church in Sandy, Bedfordshire. In June 1925, during the battlefield clearances, a mass grave containing mostly unidentifiable remains was uncovered near the remains of Herentage Chateau. Among them was an officer, later identified as Walter Graves from the numerals on his person, being his Long Service Number. The soldiers – mainly Bedfordshires who had fallen during the 7th Nov 1914 fighting – were interred together in the same section of Bedford House cemetery. What remains of his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/19994.
Additional information to above: In the 1911 Census Walter Graves was living at 11 Hickman Road, Penarth and his profession stated as a Coal Exporter. It is not known whether he lived in Roath when he became a Roath councillor or continued to live in Penarth. He quickly gained responsibility on Cardiff Council and in 1914 was appointed Chair of the Coal Committee. He was 30 years old when killed. As well as the memorial at Sandy, he is remembered on a plaque in the City Hall, Cardiff (see picture). He is also remembered on the Cardiff Coal Exchange War Memorial. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record.
WILLIAM GEORGE GREGORY
Writer, M.V. Conus, Merchant Navy (Service number: 162645)
William George Gregory was born on 12 Sep 1912 in Cardiff to William Garnet Gregory, an electrical engineer, and Edith Maud Gregory nee Hurley, both form Cardiff who married at Woodville Road Baptist church in Aug 1911. We don’t pick up William again until the 1939 Register when he is living at 107 Monthermer Road with his sister Edith and mother Edith who has by that time remarried to William J Davies, a retired police constable. William Gregory is working as a warehouseman. He was a member of Woodville Road Baptist church. Later he joined the merchant navy. He served on board M V Conus, a tanker, as a ship’s writer. He died on 4 Apr 1942, presumed drowned, aged 28. The Conus was part of a trans-Atlantic convoy which was attacked by torpedoes fired from U-boat 97. All 59 crew were lost. He is remembered on the Tower Hill memorial in London as well as the WWII memorial plaque in Woodville Road Baptist Church. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
GEORGE HENRY GRIFFIN
Private, 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (Service Number 11932).
George Henry Griffin was born in Cardiff in 1891 to Samuel Griffin, a builder’s haulier, originally from Llanedarn and Sarah Jane Griffin nee Spencer from Cardiff. He was christened at St Margaret’s church, Roath on 7 Aug 1891. The Griffin family lived at 33 Elm Street, Roath. He joined the Devonshire regiment early in the war, went to France in Feb 1915 and was killed in action on 22 April 1915 at Zillebeke, Belgium, aged 24. He has no known grave. He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Beligium. He is also remembered on the WWI memorial plaque in St Edward’s church. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
WILLIAM HENRY GRIFFITHS
Private, 14th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (Service number: 44000)
William Henry Griffiths was born in 1899. We don’t know much about his family background other than he was single and lived at 15 Glan Nant, Cwmfelinfach. He served as a Private in a number of regiments including the South Wales Borderers (service number 24365) and the Labour Corps (service number 131677) as well as the 14th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He was discharged on 23 Feb 1919. He suffered from trench feet and VDH (valvular disease of the heart). He died on 15 Jun 1921 aged 21 at one of the Red Cross hospitals on Newport Road, Cardiff. He is remembered on the Red Cross Memorial plaque at St Edward church, Pen-y-lan, Cardiff. His final resting place is not known.
EDWARD BROCKETT GROVER
Private, 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Service Number: 690)
Edward Brockett Grover was born in 1879 in Pontypridd to Henry Llewellyn Brockett Grover, a solicitor, originally from Manchester, and Margaret Grover nee Morgan, originally from Pontypridd. He grew up in Clydach Court, a large house in Pontypridd. He attended Llandaff Cathedral School and then Dover College, Dover. In 1901, aged 21, he was living in Caerphilly and working as a bank clerk. In 1907 he married Ada Jones, daughter of a coal merchant, in Ynyshir, who was some twenty years older than Edward. They lived at Pen-y-lan Court, a large house on Ty Gwyn Avenue with seven bedrooms and extensive gardens. Edward was said to be an enthusiast of hunting with hounds. He enlisted in Sep 1914 with the Royal Fusiliers and did not seek commission, preferring to serve in the ranks. He was killed in action at Montauban during the Battle of the Somme on 29 Jul 1916 aged 36. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France. He is also remembered on the WWI War Memorial plaque at St Martin’s church in Roath. This is probably a replacement for the original memorial in St Martin’s destroyed in a WWII air raid. After WWI a high altar reredos was also installed as a memorial to members of the Brocket Grover family who fell in the Great War. These too were lost in 1941. His name also appears on the Llandaff Cathedral School WWI memorial. His wife Ada carried out a lot of charitable work including fundraising for Cardiff Infirmary. She moved to Peterston super Ely and passed away in London in 1934 aged 76. A Celtic cross memorial stone to both her and Edward is in the Peterston super Ely churchyard and behind it the Ada Brockett Grover memorial village hall of which she was the benefactor. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.