Gilbert was born on 8th November 1891 in Seal, Sevenoaks, Kent to parents William and Lydia, over six months after the 1891 census. Ten years later on the 1901 census he was listed living in the High Street of Seal, with his painter father, mother and three sisters.
Gilbert was previously employed on the Wildernesse Estate http://www.thewildernesseestate.com/P5_History.html
before joining the Royal Marine Light Infantry as a Private, attesting on 13th September 1909 aged seventeen. He trained at Chatham Division until 6th June 1911 when he was posted to HMS COMMONWEALTH where he stayed until 27th March 1912, returning to the Chatham base, although he was due to be posted to HMS VANGUARD. He was recorded at the Marine Barracks during the night of the 1911 census. On 17th November 1912 he received seven days punishment for “improperly performing his duties as sentry on the aft deck, in conversing with the messenger while on watch”.
Gilbert was transferred to HMS LONDON on 23rd May 1912 until at least May 1914 but it is not known how long he remained stationed there before being moved to HMS VANGUARD, although it is likely before 1915 as he was Best Man at a fellow Marine’s wedding, Ernest Bean, on 13th July 1915. Although not confirmed, it is likely that Gilbert was also aboard VANGUARD during the Battle of Jutland.
While aboard the dreadnought HMS VANGUARD Gilbert participated in the ship’s theatrical performance “Double Salvoes” as one of the chorus of villagers.
He was 25 years old when the ship exploded, sadly due to leave a few days later. He left £124 in his will to his mother Lydia as well as his pension - she claimed his Star, Victory and British war medals following his death. He is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
Fleet Air Arm Museum
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 008 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/8; Scan Number: 0474
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 168