Gilbert Davison Pitt Eykyn was born at the France Lynch parsonage in Gloucestershire on the 22nd August 1881. He was baptised on the 29th September 1881. He was the only son of the late Reverend Pitt Eykyn. His father at the time of his death was Chaplain at Parel Bombay. Gilbert married Emily Constance on the 28th November 1902 and a son, Duncan Arthur, was born on the 11th August. The 1911 census shows that Duncan was born Poona in India. At some point after the family returned to England they moved to Northallerton in North Yorkshire.
Gilbert was a career soldier. He was also a gifted linguist, having passed Army exams in Russian, French and Hindustani. He received his first commission with the 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1899. He then joined the 4th Manchester Battalion in May 1901 and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 24th December 1901. He joined the Royal Scots on the 4th February 1905 attaining the rank of Captain on the 26th June 1913. On the 13th February 1913 he was appointed adjutant to the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in Northallerton. During his military career he had served in India and saw action in the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902).
Gilbert was with the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment when they arrived in France just prior to the 2nd Ypres offensive. He was killed leading his men in the storming of St Julien on the 24th April 1915. He was 34 years old. Gilbert has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.
In a letter to his wife his Colonel wrote: ‘You remember he trained the Battalion, and the General has personally thanked us for our behaviour at a critical moment. His is our credit.’
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Gerald Burnett visited the museum to relate the story of his grandfather Ernest Wyatt Burnett. My Grandfather, Ernest Wyatt Burnett was born in Chudleigh, Devonshire, in 1886. After minimal schooling and several agricultural jobs, Ernest moved to London and became a chauffeur with various employers including Thomas Tilling. He spent the pre-war years driving around Great Britain with American tourists and contemporary industrialists such as Tommy Lipton of tea fame. Ernest enlisted with the Royal Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport Branch, in April 1915 and became a Staff Car driver. In 1915, the Government appointed five official Western Front War Correspondents, Philip Gibbs, Percival Phillips, H. Perry Robinson, W. Beach Thomas and Herbert Russell. Ernest was assigned to be their driver, a position he held until the end of the war. Ernest was transferred to the Reserve in February 1919. Alongside his ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ decorations he was awarded a Silver Medal for Merit by Nicholas I, King of Montenegro. During WW2, Ernest served with the Home Guard at Balcombe Place, his Sussex home, where he was chauffeur to Lady Gertrude Denman who was President of the Women’s Institute and Honorary Director of The Women’s Land Army. My Grandfather was one of the lucky ones. He served his country, survived two World Wars, and lived a full and interesting life.
Judith Farrar visited the museum to tell us about Rifleman John Stoney, the uncle of her husband, Don. John enlisted as R/41447 Private J Stoney, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and was attached to the 9th battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles). The final letter from John to his sister, Hilda still survives. The letter of 12th June mentions many things – a royal visit to Leeds, his hopes that his sister is selected for the school cricket team and the fact the locals in France ‘won’t even let us get water from their pumps.’ A key passage states ‘I was sorry to hear about the explosion at the munition works and hope the casualties are not so heavy as you say they are reported to be.’ He died tragically close to the end of the war, aged 18 on 25 August 1918 and is remembered at the Memorial in Vis-en-Artois.
Submitted by Angela Atkinson. L/Sgt Joseph (Joe) Taylor – shown in the picture on the wall – served in 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Joe was my Grandad’s brother, born in 1887. Joseph worked as a length man on the North Eastern Railway before the war. He was killed in action on 25/4/1915. He is commemorated at Ypres and on the Lych Gate in Brompton, Northallerton. His parents were my great grandparents and I believe the others on the photo are all his family. The other person in uniform is William Robert (Bill) Taylor, who was born in 1883. Captain Stead wrote to Taylor’s family:- “Sergeant Taylor, along with his Company Commander, Major Matthews, were the first of their battalion to fall for their Country. His rapid promotion shows the confidence that was placed in him. He was an excellent soldier and a brave man.”