GILLHAM Frederick Stephen Michael

Category: Military
Rank: Sergeant GSSR/127
Regiment or Ship: 7th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment
Service Number(s): GSSR/127
Occupation: Bricklayer
Date of Birth: 25.11.1890
Place of Birth: Little Common, Bexhill
Date of Death: 04.03.1916
Place of Death: Near Auchy-les-Mines in France. Place of Burial / Memorials:

V. A. 72. Cemetery: Bethune Town Cemetery;  Little Common Memorial ; Bexhill Memorial (sea front);  also on wall plaque in St. Mark’s Elementary School Roll of Honour.

Address: Peach Cottage, Little Common, Bexhill

Photos and newspaper articles

Family Information

Parents:          Stephen Plumb Gillham, born in 1855, in Sussex, died 1st February 1925 and Ruth Ellen Lennard, born 1855 in Bexhill, died in 1933. The couple were married in St. Mark’s Church, Little Common, on 29th November 1879.


 Harry Gillham, born 1880 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Frances Gillham, born 1881 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Ellen Mary Gillham, born 1883 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Annie Bethia Gillham, born 1886 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Florence Gillham, born 1889 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Elsie Gillham born and died in 1892, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Edith Amy Gillham, born 1894 in Bexhill, Sussex.

George Gillham, born 1897 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Catherine Daisy Gillham, born 1898 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Winifred Eliza Gillham, born 1899 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Margaret Gillham, born 1901 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Leonard Thomas Gillham, born1903 in Bexhill, Sussex.

Cecily Jessie Gillham born 1906 and died in 1907, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Marriage:    Frederick Stephen Michael Gillham married Ellen Jane Munn on 5th April 1915, in Bexhill.

After his death in March 1916, Ellen, his widow, was awarded a pension and the form states that the pension was for the benefit of his widow – the reference to children has been crossed out. From this, and the lack of uncovering any possible children of the couple, it would appear they were childless.

First World War Experience

His Service papers have survived but are, generally, in poor condition – in places too faint to read. They show, however, that, previous to the war, he had served with the 5th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment and his time expired before war broke out. He re-enlisted in Hastings on 25th August 1914, again, in the Royal Sussex Regiment, and was posted to the 7th Battalion, where, on the 1st November 1914 he was promoted to Corporal.

 He was posted to France on 30th May 1915 and, on 25th October 1915, was promoted to the paid rank of Lance Sergeant followed by promotion to Sergeant on the 4th December 1915.

 The 7th Battalion was part of Kitchener’s “NewArmy”. At the end of May 1915 the Battalion left for Boulogne, to commence their tour of duty in France.

 In 1915, near Auchy-les-Mines, in France, on the Western Front, the Germans had built a formidable fortification, known as the “Hohenzollern Redoubt”, in a way, a “hill”. This “hill”, however, jutted well out into a wide stretch of No-Man’s Land and rose, roughly, 20 feet above ground level. Whoever held that “hill” had the advantage of height and was able to view, in all directions, the enemy and his movements. It was, obviously, important to the British to take that “hill” and many attempts were made during late 1915.

 Between March 2nd and 19th, 1916, because of the importance of the Redoubt, the British tried, once again, to capture it and the German’s to defy all their attempts. During this time there was incessant fighting around the craters in that area, and this fighting became known as “The Battle of the Craters”.

 It was during “The Battle of the Craters”, on 3rd March, that Frederick received gunshot wounds to his back and right foot. He was admitted to 33 Casualty Clearing Station but died of his wounds the following day, 4th March 1916.

 On 4th March, 1916, the German heavy artillery mounted a fierce attack on the British lines and many more British troops were killed that day.

 From the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer, Saturday March 25th 1916 – “In the casualty list published on Tuesday the name appears of Sergeant F. S. M. Gillham, of the 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, who was reported to have died of wounds. Sergeant Gillham was the second son of Mr and Mrs Stephen Gillham of Peach Cottage, Little Common. He was wounded on March 3rd and died the following day

Additional Information

Note. The name was spelt “Gilham”, with one “l”, until the late 1800s when, at some time a second “l” was added.

 Frederick’s Great Grandparents were George Gilham, an agricultural labourer, born 1805, in Bexhill, Sussex and Eliza (maiden name not known) born in 1809, in Bexhill, Sussex. This couple’s children were:-

 William Gilham, born 1828, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Jane Gilham, born 1830, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Alfred Gilham, born 1832, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Samuel Gilham, born 1836, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Richard Gilham, born 1837, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Walter Gilham, born 1840, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Henry Gilham, born 1843, in Bexhill, Sussex.

Francis Gilham, born 1848, in Bexhill, Sussex.

 Frederick’s Grandparents were the William Gilham, above (born 1828, in Bexhill), who married Frances Short in 1879, in Bexhill – she was born in Salisbury, in Wiltshire in 1826. In 1861, they were living at “Little Birchington”, Collington Lane, Bexhill with their three children:-

George Gillham born 1851 in Bexhill.

Stephen Plumb Gillham born 1855, in Bexhill.

William Gillham born 1857, in Bexhill.

 Frederick’s Parents were Stephen Plumb Gillham (above) and Ruth Ellen Lennard (see previous section on “Family”)

 According to his army medical records, when Stephen enlisted in 1914, he had grey eyes and black hair. He was 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall but, like most people at that time, his diet was not good with the result that his chest, when fully expanded by 3 inches, was only 36 inches.

 He (or his widow) was awarded a pension of 11/- a week from 2nd October 1916. The pension notification form (F.3. – Form 50D.), sent to his wife by the Army, says “I am directed to inform you that the widow of No. 127 Sgt F. Gillham 7tth Royal Sussex Regt. has been awarded a Pension of 11/- per week” but the words “and —– children” have been crossed out. From this we can assume that the couple had no children so there can have no descendents.

 All documentation was sent to Mrs Ellen Jane Gillham, “Peach Cottage”, Little Common, Bexhill-on-Sea.

 One family tree, on, has given Stephen’s birth as being on 25th November 1890 while the National Index of births state that he was born in the first quarter of 1891. On his Attestation Form, he gives his age, on 25th August 1914, as being 23 years and 9 months which firmly places his birth in November 1890. This discrepancy can be explained if the owner of the family tree obtained the man’s official birth certificate, which gave the correct date, while, perhaps, the fact of the birth may not have been registered until, for instance, 1st January 1891.

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