PRIVATE EDWARD JOHN GIBBONS
6TH APRIL 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE
This is a very different inscription - extraordinary in fact. What can his mother have been thinking of? Edward Gibbons was the son of Patrick and Louisa Gibbons. Patrick was a 'carman' in the furniture trade, in other words someone who delivered furniture. The couple had five children, Edward was the third.
Edward Gibbons served with the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade which was in the front line just east of Flavy-le-Martel at Jussy on 21 March 1918 when the German assault opened. On 22 March the war diary reported:
"enemy put down a heavy machine gun barrage all day .. enfilading Canal Bank. During the afternoon enemy artillery shelled area between Canal Bank and Flavy. Heavy casualties to Battalion sustained."
The 8th Battalion's casualties were huge: on 1 March the battalion's fighting strength had been 16 officers and 354 men. By the 31st March it was 5 officers and 27 men. (See 1914-1918.invasionzone.com).
It's not possible to tell exactly which day Gibbons was wounded but he died of wounds in a hospital in Etaples on 6 April.
"Missed by few forgotten by many" ... it's such a dismissive inscription. I wonder if we'll ever know what lies behind it? Next time I go to Etaples I shall visit his grave (XXXIII E 25) just to show that he hasn't been completely forgotten.