Born in 1886 at Ramsgate, son of William (General Labourer) and Mary Gilbey. 1891: With his family at York Hill Loughton. 1901: A Fish Shop Boy with his family at Monkhams Cottage Woodford Green, his father was now a Domestic Gardener. 1906: On 22th December 1906 he married Nellie Cushing, originally from Nottingham, at West Ham Register Office. 1911: A Window Cleaner with his wife and three children at 6 Avenue Road, High Road, Woodford Green. Their home would later move to 1, Mill Lane Woodford Green (Walthamstow), and he would take a job as an Auxiliary Postman.
He enlisted at Stratford on 2nd November 1914, was allocated to the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, and after training left for France with the third draft of reinforcements for 8 Battalion on 11th August 1915.
During the spring of 1916 there were no major actions in the general Arras Sector where his Battalion was located. However in circumstances which are unclear, on 21-03-16 he sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was removed to 1 Stationary Hospital at Rouen. His condition was serious and Nellie was given the opportunity of travelling to France at public expense to see him. Ironically, while at 14.35 on 28th March 1916 her telegram of acceptance was being processed at Woodford, at 14.34 a telegram from France had arrived in the Rifle Depot at Winchester informing them of his death.
Her claim for a Military pension shows five children; Agnes, Sissie, Nellie, Mary and Henry. It was countersigned by Fr Raymond Briscoe OFM, a Catholic Priest at the Franciscan Friary at Woodford.
A further sadness is disclosed by this Army Form 5080, frustratingly damaged at an important part. Not only had Nellie lost her husband, but it is clear that at least Agnes and perhaps Sissie could no longer be looked after at home. The address in the column adjoining their names shows The Convent Orphanage, Central Hill, Upper Norwood. This was the first Catholic Orphanage opened since the Reformation, and today houses the Virgo Fidelis Secondary School.
Henry Gilbey had a tattoo on his left wrist, the initials ILNC - believed to mean “I Love Nellie Cushing”. Nellie did not re-marry, and died in Woodford during 1944.
On Sunday afternoon 18th July 1920 at Woodford Green Sorting Office, the name of Henry Gilbey appeared on the Roll of Honour which was unveiled by Brigadier General Richard Colvin C.B. M.P., and dedicated by the Vicar of All Saints. It has now been removed to the new centralised Sorting Office at Debden.
Though Henry was a member of the Church of England, his family members were Catholic parishioners at St Thomas of Canterbury Church (RC).
Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian