1666, 3rd Bn., Monmouthshire Regiment
Died 8th May 1915 Aged 26
Son of Sarah Gordon of 2 Ivor Place, Sketty and the late George Gordon
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Remembered with Honour
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
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Born in 1889 in Brynmill, Swansea, William’s parents were George Harry Gordon and Sarah Gordon, born 1852 and 1855 respectively. His father was from Swansea but his mother was originally from Hayle, Cornwall. His father died in 1898 but his mother survived until 1942, living at 5 Cory Street, Sketty, in 1911 and at 2 Ivor Place, Sketty, in 1915.
In 1891, William was a baby at home in Village Lane, Mumbles, with four brothers and two sisters. By 1901, aged 12, he was at home with his widowed mother, the oldest of three brothers.
William married Florance from Abertillery in 1909 and worked as a mason’s labourer. He lived with his wife and 18 month old son, William George Gordon, at 2 Bay View Place, Sketty in 1911.
William enlisted at Cambridge in the 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment, 1666, and was killed in action near Ypres, Belgium, on 8th May 1915. His remains were never found and he is recorded on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders, the area known as the Ypres Salient. This was the northern most part of the Western Front and incurred many notable and devastating in loss of life bathes.
The Ypres Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge.
The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. About 7,000 gas casualties were admitted to field ambulances and casualty clearing stations. From May— June, 350 British deaths were recorded from gas poisoning.
Fighting renewed around Ypres on 8 May and continued until 13 May, with repeated use of gas attacks. At 5.30am on 8 May a violent German artillery bombardment began on the British lines causing massive destruction — especially to those men in vulnerable trenches on the forward slopes of the Frezenberg Ridge. The subsequent German infantry assault was repelled by the surviving British battalions., A second German thrust on the ridge was held but a third assault at 10am, either side of Frezenberg village, forced the remaining defenders to fall back. The German attack was stopped on the right but, to the north, 84th Brigade was almost totally destroyed in the onslaught; by afternoon a two mile gap had been punched in the British line. Tenacious defence, hastily improvised counter-attacks and a crucial night advance of 10th Brigade restored a precarious situation.
William Gordon may have died as a result of poison gas or could equally have been shot or shelled to death during these attacks. His body was not recovered.
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GORDON William died 8th May 1915 aged 26. He was a private in the Monmouthshire Regiment 3d Bn. His service number was 1666. He is buried in Belgium. His name is on Panel 50 at Ypres (Menin Gate). His parents were George Gordon (deceased) and Sarah Gordon of 2, Ivor Place, Sketty.
In the 1911 census, Sarah lived alone (in two rooms) at 5, Cory Street. She is described as a domestic charwoman. She was born in Cornwall.
In 1901 she was already a widow, living at 18, Roseland Terrace, Sketty, with her children William (aged12); Sidney (11) and Frederick (9). She was born in Hayle, Cornwall and her sons were born in Swansea. Her occupation was a charwoman.
In 1891 the family was living in Village Lane, Oystermouth. George (senior – born 1853 in Oystermouth) was head of the family. He was a domestic gardener. Sarah was thirty six years old. Their children were – George (15 – errand boy); Louisa (12); Martin (10); Daisy (8); John (6); William (1) and Sydney (?mths). The census states that all the children were born in Oystermouth.
In 1881, the previous generation of the family lived in William Street, Swansea. George (senior) was a gardener, married to Elizabeth. This needed to be double checked as in the later censuses he was married to Sarah.
On March 24th 1872, George Harries Gordon married Elizabeth Grove (born 1849). She was buried on 9th December 1887. in the parish of Oxwich. He lived in the village and she lived at Oxwich Green. On October 30th 1888, George Harris (sic) Gordon (widower) married Sarah Brown (widow – born 1846) at St. Mary’s Church, Swansea. At this time George was an insurance agent. Sarah’s father was James Simons (deceased – miner). George’s father was Martin Bevan Gordon (deceased – plumber). George had been born in Llanrhidian.
Living with their parents were Anne (8 born Penrice); Elizabeth (6 born Oxwich); George G (4 born Swansea); Louisa (2); Martin (6 mths).
In 1871, the family lived in Llanrhidian Lower. Martin was a plumber (born in Llanrhidian in 1815), Ann, his wife (born in Oystermouth in 1822), their children – George (18), Richard (15) and Thomas (8) all born in Llanrhidian. George was a mason and the other children attended school.
In 1861 the family lived in Lower Llanrhidian. Martin was head of the family (aged 56— plumber); Ann (nee Martyn), his wife, aged 49, was born in Oystermouth. Their children were George (18— mason); Richard (15 — scholar); Thomas (8— scholar). The boys were born in Llanrhidian.
In the 1851 census Martin Gordon lived in Blackpill, with the Harries family. He and Ann are described on the census as visitors in the house. Martin was a plumber and Ann a laundress. Martin and Ann were married on 8th December 1849. William Harries the head of the household was a gardener. He was married to Elizabeth and their children were Thomas DWYER (stepson -10); William DWYER (stepson — 8); Henry Harries (5) and Mary Harries (2). It would appear that these families are related.
In 1841, Martin Gordon was living in Blackpill and is described as a brazier. Next door to him lived the Dwyer family. Martin was unmarried.