Wilfred Gillings

Service number: 25671 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Norfolk Regiment

Died of wounds, May 15, 1917, in Flanders.  Aged 29.



Wilfred was born in the spring of 1888, in Stratford St. Mary, Suffolk. His mother was named Fanny and his father, George Gillings, was a Police Constable in that town. George was stationed around various West Suffolk villages, Naughton St. Mary being another one, and it appears the family moved around a bit before Wilfred left home. In 1911 Wilfred, aged 22, was boarding with an elderly gentleman called Mr William Chilvers at Folly House in Ickburgh, near Mundford and was doing labouring work in a garden. Mr Chilvers’ granddaughter, Maud, who was the same age as Wilfred, was also staying at Folly House. It is not known whether Wilfred and Maud had any romantic ties at this time but what is known is that in the summer of 1913 Wilfred and Maud married and by the time Wilfred had gone off to fight they had two young children and the couple had inherited Folly House.

On the 9th May Wilfred and his battalion were in action at Arleux Loop and despite heavy Germen artillery they repelled an enemy attack. They were relieved later that day and returned to billets at Farbus Wood. The following day they witnessed the Germans firing gas shells into the open ground between their billets and Arleux Loop and a little while later the German artillery concentrated on the Norfolk’s positions in the wood. The shelling continued into the next day, the 11th May, although the German shells were not gas laden the barrage was still heavy enough to keep the Norfolks in their dug outs and prevent much movement. It was during this barrage that Wilfred appears to have been wounded, and the following day, when the shelling had ceased, he was evacuated to a clearing station behind the lines. Sadly four days later he died from his wounds. He was aged 29.

One reason for Wilfred being included on Brandon’s war memorial is the fact that his parents had retired to Brandon sometime before the war finished. George’s police pension was supporting him and his wife and they were living in a modest house along Bury Road and it is likely they lobbied to have their son’s name included. Perhaps Wilfred did live in Brandon with his parents, albeit very briefly, before he went off to live in Ickburgh?