"To Keep in Memory"

Pte. E. Gardiner

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DRIVER EDMUND ALPHONZO GARDINER
37006, 25th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps
Died of Wounds, 27th July 1918
Aged 20 years.
Buried in Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, France. Plot III, Row F, Grave 17

MGC_Badge.JPG
The badge of the Machine Gun Corps.

Edmund Alphonzo Gardiner (Alphonzo being his paternal grandfather's name) was the eldest of six children from the marriage of Reginald Sydney Gardiner and Annie Lake. Reginald Gardiner was originally from South Crosland, near Huddersfield, but by the age of nine was living with his grandfather, an artist, at Guisbrough. There is no trace of Reginald Gardiner in the 1891 census, but in 1897 he married Annie Lake in Stafford.

Edmund was born in Stafford in 1898, but by 1901 his family was living at 74 Stockbrook Road, Derby, where his father was a self-employed watchmaker. At some point from 1907 - 1910, the family, by now consisting of father, mother, and four children moved to Hawthorn Farm Cottage at Whinmoor. A further two children, born at Whinmoor, completed the family. The children were Edmund, Winifred Maud (b. 1900), Sydney (b. 1903), Bertie (b. 1907), Robert (b. 1910) and Percy (b. 1914).

seaforth_highlanders.jpg
The badge of the Seaforth Highlanders

Given his age, and because he did not serve overseas until after 1st January 1916, it is almost certain that Edmund was conscripted in to the army. He was enlisted in Leeds and joined the 3/4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. The battalion was a third line Territorial Force battalion, and it saw no overseas service during its existence. The battalion was renamed as a reserve battalion in April 1916, and so it may be that he joined the army before this change happened. Although the battalion was a Scottish one, during Edmund Gardiner's time with it, it was stationed at Ripon. The proximity of Ripon to his home would have made it possible for him to travel home if he was lucky enough to get leave or an extended pass out of camp, something that the Scotsmen in the battalion would be less able to take advantage of.

The Grave of Edmund Gardiner in Bagneux British Cemetery
The Grave of Edmund Gardiner in Bagneux British Cemetery.

Before he was sent to France, Edmund Gardiner was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. The battalion he joined, the 25th, was attached to the 25th Division, which was a New Army division, formed in response to Lord Kitchener’s appeal for volunteers. The battalion left that division, however, and was sent to the 59th (2nd North Midland) Division which was being reconstituted after it was all but broken up after it suffered terrible losses during particularly heavy fighting in March and April 1918 in the Battles of the Somme and Lys. The units that remained were reduced to cadre strength, presumably to look after stores and equipment, while the majority of the men were drafted to other units throughout the army as they were required.
After a period of training the 59th Division took its place in the line again, and 25th Battalion relieved two companies of the 3rd Canadian Machine Gun Battalion on 26th July 1918 in a section of the line between Mercatel and Boyelles, south of the city of Arras.
As the relief took place, a section from A Coy, 25th Bn, MGC was caught in a shell blast. Two NCOs were killed and seven NCOs and men were wounded. It must be assumed that Edmund Gardiner was one of the wounded men as there had been no casualties during the period of training prior to this and there were no other casualties reported until after the date on which he died. He would have been transported to the Doullens and Gezaincourt area as there were a number of medical units stationed there, but he died and was buried in the cemetery created by these units. It seems that Edmund Gardiner was mortally wounded before he had seen his first action.

Remembering the Fallen of Two Villages on the Eastern Fringes of Leeds.

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