Bertram James Gibbs (Private – service No 59622)

Bertram was born in Surlingham in 1898 to Samuel Charles and Alice.  His father was a yacht builder and they lived in Ferry Road with Bertram’s siblings Charles Robert, George Henry, Leslie and Ernest.

In 1906 his mother died, and Bertram went to live with his maternal grandparents, Mary Ann and Robert Purdy Landlord (from 1908 to 1925) of The Brickmakers Arms, The Street, Surlingham.

In 1916 his father Samuel was married to Florence and was the landlord of Coldham Hall public house and half-siblings Clifford, Joan, Peggy and Desmond Charles.

Bertram served in the Northamptonshire Regiment of the British Army and served in France and Flanders, he was admitted to Beaufort Military Hospital, Bristol and died from his wounds on 11 October 1918 aged 20.  He is buried at St Mary’s Church Surlingham.

It was likely Private Gibbs was awarded the following campaign medals:

  • Victory Medal British War Medal
  • Memorial Death Plaque.

Background on the extended Gibbs family

Bertram’s brother Charles Robert (born 1899) went to live with his uncle and aunt James and Sarah Gibbs at the New Inn, Rockland St Mary.

Charles Robert served in the Royal Navy in 1917 at HMS Pembroke ll land-base and on HMS Albyn a paddle minesweeper.  He survived WW1 and in WW2 served as an ARP Warden and lived on Bramerton Lane.

George Henry born in 1900 was a yacht skipper and married Hilda they had a daughter Joyce and George died in 1990.

Leslie was born in 1902 he was a brewery worker in Norwich and married Eileen Pink in 1928. He died in 1990.

Ernest born in in 1904 moved to the Leicester area and worked as a driver mechanic for the aircraft industry. He married Phyllis Bustard in 1939 and died in 1979.

Half-Siblings

  • Clifford born 1909 he worked as an internal combustion engineer also moved to the Leicester area, he married Eva and died in 1966
  • Joan born in 1916, was an assistant nurse in 1939.
  • Peggy born in 1920 and Desmond Charles in 1925.

Bertram’s aunt Sarah Maria (father’s sister) was in the workhouse in 1911 with hertwo children Harry and Alice Mary.

Bertram’s great uncle Richard (grandfather Robert’s brother) was the previous landlord of the Brickmakers Public House and died in 1906.  He left a widow Florence Sarah and children Richard, Nelson, Emma and Robert.  The children are recorded as living in the Children’s home in Framingham Pigot

The oldest son Richard emigrated to Ontario, Canada under the Children’s Emigration Movement where he married Hazel Robillard in 1924 and died in 1945 aged 44 years.

The Children’s Emigration Movement

Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement.  Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada.  Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing and receiving homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area.  Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life and job opportunities here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England.  Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.