Gerald Howard Eardley-Wilmot was born on 14th March 1890. He was the youngest son of Francis and Lucy Earldey-Wilmot. Gerald’s father Francis was an Officer in the Navy and during the 1870s and early 1880s the family lived in Canada.
Gerald was educated at Southey Hall School in Worthing, and he was boarding at the school during the 1901 census. By the time he was 21; Gerald was training as an Electrical engineer and had been an apprentice since May 1908 in several different firms including The British Electrical Engineering Company, Ltd. After completing his apprentices in 1911 Gerald worked with a company in Westminster, London but continued studying at night school.
Once war was declared in August 1914 Gerald immediately signed up for the Army. He was given a commission on 27th November 1914 and posted to the 9th (service) Battalion The Devonshire Regiment. After completing military school for Officers he was sent to France in July 1915. He remained in various stations on the West Front for the rest of his time with the Devonshire Regiment. Although he had transferred to the Machine Gun Corps of this regiment and by 1916 had become Second Lieutenant Eardley-Wilmott.
On 10th March 1916 Gerald was on duty with his Company in the trenches near Fricourt. An enemy rifle grenade exploded in the trench near Gerald’s gun and he was hit by the shrapnel. Although he was taken to the Casualty Hospital at Corbie (12 miles away) he died from his wounds.
His Company Commander wrote to Gerald’s parent’s the following message: ‘During the time I knew him I formed a very high opinion of your son. He was a splendid officer – always cheery – and was very popular with the Company.’
He is burred at Corbie Communal Cemetery in France.
A painting dedicated to Gerald Howard Eardley-Wilmot is displayed within St. Mary the Virgin Parish Church in Ilford. Gerald was not only the artist’s nephew, but he was also the younger brother of Reverend Hubert Valentine Eardley-Wilmot, the Vicar of St. Mary’s Church.
Research by Redbridge Museum
Commonwealth War Graves Commission