GILLHAM Ernest Edward

Category: Military
Rank: Corporal
Regiment or Ship: 6th Sussex Battery 2nd Home Counties Brigade Royal Field Artillery
Service Number(s): 527(A); 905192
Occupation: Plasterer
Date of Birth: 1883
Place of Birth: Eastbourne, Sussex
Address: 86 Windsor Road, Bexhill

Photos and newspaper articles

Family Information

Parents:          George Ernest Gillham (1856-1939) and Emily Mary Gillham – nee Russell -(1858-1944). George was born in Robertsbridge, and was a general labourer, and Emily was born in Rye and was a maternity nurse.


George Edward Gillham, b. 1879 in Eastbourne. W0281 GILLHAM George Edward

Fanny Flora Gillham (married name Carly), b. 1881 in Eastbourne.

Emily M. Gillham, b. 1885 in Bexhill.

Spouse: Ernest married Harriett Matilda Caroline Hughes in January 1911 and they had one child – born on 22nd July 1914. Harriett was born on 24th October 1988 and died in 1982 in the Hastings and Rother registration district.

Ernest was given the rank of Gunner in 1914 and, in December 1918, he was a Corporal. He was demobbed on 12th May 1919 – when he gave his address as 66 Windsor Road (on several occasions he gave number 66 as his address but mainly he advised that it was 86).

First World War Experience

Ernest enlisted just after war was declared – on 5th August 1914. He advised the Board that he was 31 years 5 months of age, a British citizen, was married – living at 86 Windsor Road – and a plasterer working for Messrs. Gordon Harris. On medical examination his physical development was found to be ‘Good’ – as was his vision. He stood 5’ 10” tall with a chest measurement of 35” – expansion 2”.

A report in a local newspaper in December 1914, together with a photograph, tells us:-

“Ernest Edward Gillham is the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Gillham, of 86 Windsor Road. He served twelve years in the Navy on the “sick bay” staff. He left the Service in November last year and has joined the 6th Sussex Battery R. F. A.”

(NB: During his time in the Navy Ernest was posted to India – sailing on 20th April 1900.)

Another newspaper report tells us:-

“E. E. Gillham (31) is the second son of Mr and Mrs Gillham of 86 Windsor Road. He has served twelve years in the Navy on the “sick bay” staff. His training was at Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, then he served for two years on HMS “Maine” (the hospital ship),and afterwards he spent two years in Malta. He left the Service in November last year. He has volunteered for the Artillery under Capt. Rapp, formerly of the Chronicle office. He is anxious to get to the Front.”

He also served in India whilst he was with the RFA when he was wounded – sustaining a head wound – and was hospitalized between 27.3 and 7.4.1915. His injury was in the right parietal region with exposed bone. The wound was sutured.

During that time in Multan, India, (on 22nd June 1915), he was charged with”neglect of duty while acting as Garrison Policeman.” For this offence he was reduced to the rank of Gunner.

Again, on 18th December 1915, also in Multan, he was charged with three offences 1) Absent from post when on duty; 2) Drunk during period of duty; and 3) Improperly dressed. For these offences he was given 168 hours detention.

Nearly a year later he was again charged with “neglect of duty” and “drunk when on duty as Battery Orderly” but was acquitted on insufficient evidence.

A report, again in a local newspaper, dated 17th August 1918 records:-

“News was received officially on Sunday by Mrs. Gillham, of 86 Windsor Road, that one of her sons, Corpl. Ernest Gillham, RGA, has been accidentally wounded in Mesopotamia, and is in hospital in Baghdad.”

Ernest was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the 1914 Medal.

During the years following the end of the conflict Ernest wrote a series of letters to the authorities and these are transcribed below.

The first one is undated and it reads:

“Dear Sir

Would you please inform me if I am entitled to any ribbon for 1914. I joined the 1/6 Sussex Battery on August 5 1914 and went to India with the 1/5 Sussex Battery RFA in October 1914 as I am in the Fire Brigade and we are asked to wear our war decorations if any. I would like to know how I stand for 1914. Sorry to trouble.

     I remain Yours

         Corporal Gillham

         404 Battery R.F.A.

         221 Brigade M.E.F.               905192 “

The second is dated 24th April 1921.


Would you please inform me if I am entitled to the Territorial War Medal. My Service is 3 years in the 3rd. Position Battery 2nd Cinque Volunteers. I then joined the Navy and served 12 years. I left the Navy time expired on Dec. 3.1913. I joined 1/6 Sx. Battery RFA on August 8th 1914. Sailed for India on Oct. 29th. Demobbed in April 1919. I transferred from the 1/6 bty. to the 1/5 Battery Sx.”

The third letter dated 1.3.1915:-

“Dear Sir

Would you please inform me if I am entitled to the Territorial War Medal. My case is this. I joined the 2nd. Cinque Ports Artillery Volunteers in 1898. I left the battery 1901 to join the Royal Navy on leaving the Navy in 1913 I joined…” there the letter ends.

A fourth, and final, letter – again undated – says:-


Would you please inform me if I am entitled to an extra months leave. I left England in October 1914 with the 1/5 Sussex Battery R.F.A. and returned the 17th of April 1919.

During that time I had no leave at all. I was transferred to the 404th Battery R.F.A. in 1918.

                        I am

                        Yours E. E. Gillham

P.S. Would you please inform me what ribbons I am entitled to.

903192 Corpl. E. Gillham.”

No responses to these letters are recorded.

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