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Gash, J., Pte., 1916

Photo: James Pasby

In Spennymoor Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of:-

4/9447 Private
J. Gash
Durham Light Infantry
4th November 1916

Rest in Peace

Pauline Priano has submitted the following:-

Joseph Gash, one of 4 known children was the eldest son of John Gash born July 21st 1841 in Appleby, Westmorland and his second wife, Mary Ann Watson, born in the village of Fir Tree, near Crook, County Durham, in 1850, who had a son of her own, Thomas William, born, March 26th 1871. His first wife Mary Jackson, whom he had married in 1867 in Teasdale, had died in 1871, John and Mary Ann were married in the district of Auckland in 1876, settling at Escomb, County Durham, birthplace of Joseph in 1877 and John, July 30th 1879. John Gash, who was a coal miner, in 1881 was living with his family at Wear Terrace, also listed as a son is Jonathan Gash aged 18-years, coal miner/putter. this is a transcription error as after the death of John’s mother Jane in 1871 and his father Joseph in 1875, John, as the eldest of his siblings, took responsibility for his brother Jonathan then aged 11-years whilst his brother William aged 15-years went to live with his sister Jane Ann and her husband Thomas Paley and children, in 1881 listed as living at 37, Hildyard Terrace, New Shildon, County Durham. Their own son, also named Jonathan was born, January 5th 1882 and Richard, January 8th 1885. By 1891 they had moved to Witton Park, the colliery provided work for John as a coal miner, his step son Thomas William (20), now known by the surname Gash, was a driller, Joseph (13) a driver, John (11), Jonathan (9) and Richard (5) are listed as scholars.

Mary Ann Gash nee Watson died in December 1896, aged 46-years and buried at Etherley, December 21st. Her widow John Gash suffered a heart attack whilst working at North Bitchburn Colliery at his place of work, February 14th 1898. It was concluded that the North Bitchburn Coal Co. Ltd could not be held responsible as there was sufficient ventilation in the shaft. He was 56-years of age, both deaths registered in the district of Auckland, County Durham.

After the death of their parents the youngest children, John, Jonathan and Richard were cared for by their half brother Thomas William (30), in 1901 he was employed as a steam engine fitter, John (21) and Jonathan (19) as coal hewers, Richard (15) as a putter below ground, in the household as a servant, 25-year old Isabella Beaumont, she is also listed as a housekeeper below ground.

Joseph Gash had married in 1898 to Alice Haley, born May 27th 1877 in Willington, County Durham, their son Jonathan was born June 16th 1899 and John, July 31st 1900. In 1901 Joseph supported his family employed as a coal miner, living with them was Joseph’s younger brother, Jonathan Gash, who was employed at North Bitchburn Colliery, he died of septic pneumonia, January 21st 1908, having scratched his finger at work, January 6th. he left a widow Sarah Ann Gash nee Chandler and a daughter Olive. By 1911 Joseph and Alice who had been living at Beach Road, Witton Park had transferred with their children to 26, Wear Street, Brancepeth Colliery, Willington, Alice had also given birth, April 9th 1904 to their third child, Abraham Vincent.

When war was declared with Germany, August 4th 1914, Joseph left his employment as a coal miner and enlisted, September 2nd 1914, at Durham, assigned to the 4th Battalion Durham Light Infantry as Private 9447, he joined his regiment at Wallsend, historically in Northumberland, as part of the Tyne Defences. He overstayed his pass twice during October 1914 but did not receive any punishment, however, on the third occasion in November he forfeited 6 days pay. Having been posted to the coastal defences at Seaham Harbour absenting himself once again, for 16 days, October 14th 1915- October 29th, he was punished and given 6 days confinement to barracks and forfeited 6 days pay. This occurred again in December 1915, 3 days confinement to barracks and for the final time after the battalion had been mobilised and was due to leave for the front, although the men of the 4th Battalion D.L.I. played an important role defending at home it also trained men for the draft and retrained the sick and wounded.

Private Gash departed for the front where he was posted, March 30th 1916 to the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry of the Regular Army which had been the first D.L.I. Battalion to see action in WW1, September 20th 1914 on the River Aisne. He joined his battalion in Belgium which had spent a second winter in the mud filled trenches of the Ypres salient. Having joined his battalion in the field, April 21st 1916, 6 days later he was taken by the Feld Ambulance to the 6th Dressing Station at Bruay suffering from oestoda, tape worms. He remained there from May 1st until May 25th when he re-joined his battalion in the field. Private Gash and many like him who were experienced miners were sent on loan to the Royal Engineers, he joined the 177th Tunnelling Coy, July 14th 1916, at Railway Wood, Hooge, on the salient, one of the busiest areas, the 177th had been there since November 1915. Private Gash returned to the 2nd Battalion, July 23rd 1916, in readiness for its departure to the Somme in France, however, he was sent on loan to the 174th Tunnelling Coy, August 2nd 1916 for 26 days. Having rejoined the 2nd Battalion, as part of the 18th Brigade, 6th Division, he participated with his regiment at the Battle of Morval, September 25th-28th 1916, where he was wounded on the first day, September 25th, a gun shot wound to the abdomen. Evacuated back through the lines he was admitted to the 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen and once stabilised, repatriated to England, October 3rd 1916 where he was admitted to Netley Hospital, near Southampton, Hampshire. Neatly Hospital was built at the suggestion of Queen Victoria, completed in 1856, it was extensively used during WW1, such were the number of casualties that it was necessary to create a tented camp and hutted hospital within the extensive hospital grounds.

Private 9447 Joseph Gash succumbed to wounds sustained in action, November 4th 1916. At the request of his family his remains were transported to his home in Spennymoor, this would have been organised by the Army but paid for by his widow. He was laid to rest at Spennymoor Cemetery, County Durham, grave B. “C”. 915, he was 39-years of age.

His widow Alice of 13, Catherine Street, Spennymoor, County Durham, received all monies due to her late husband from the Army, his awards of the British War Medal and Victory Medal also a pension for herself and one of their children, Abraham Vincent, in the sum of 18 shillings 9 pence to be received weekly as of May 28th 1917, until he turned 16 years of age, April 9th 1920. To this as of June 6th 1917 was added a further allowance of 6 shillings 4 pence in relation to their eldest son Jonathan, listed in error as Private G. Gash 7824 Machine Gun Corps, who survived the conflict.

Alice Gash remarried in the district of South Shields, County Durham, in 1932 to gardener James Nicholson, born June 29th 1869 and was living at 62, Alma Street, South Shields, when she commissioned an additional inscription for Private Gash’s military headstone, it reads, “Rest In Peace.” The CWGC website makes no mention of this inscription. However it has been added to his headstone.

In 1939 James and Alice occupied 4, Fellside, South Shields. Alice Nicholson-Gash nee Hayley died in the district of South Shields, County Durham, aged 81-years in 1958.

Although his brother Richard would also have been eligible to serve during WW1 no record has been found.

Details of Joseph and Alice’s children;

Jonathan Gash married Florence Kay in 1923 with whom he had 2 sons, both of whom were born in the district of Sedgefield, Raymond in 1923 and Alan 1929.

John Gash was married during the 3rd quarter (Jul/Aug/Sep) 1922 in the district of Durham to Elizabeth Violet Walker, born June 29th 1900 at Dene Bridge, Esh and Witton Gilbert, Durham.

In 1939 they were living at 54, South Street, Spennymoor with their surviving children, Kenneth, born August 4th 1923, Vivienne, April 18th 1926, Iris, November 8th 1928, Ronald who was born in 1931 died in 1932 not yet 1-year old, Donald was born, March 27th 1934. John supported his family employed as a general labourer, Kenneth was employed at the shipyards as a junior clerk, the younger children were scholars. Their youngest child Brian F. Gash was born in 1941.

John Gash died July 17th 1948 and interred at Rock Road Cemetery, Spennymoor, grave F. 102 After the death of her husband Elizabeth Violet remarried during the 2nd quarter (Apr/May/Jun) 1953 to John G. Say who originated from Shoreditch, London, where he was born in 1888. John G. Say died in the district of Durham Western in 1966. Elizabeth not only outlived two husband but sadly also her son Kenneth who died July 5th 1986. Elizabeth Violet Say-Gash nee Walker died August 26th 1989 and was cremated at Durham Crematorium.

Abraham Vincent Gash married Emma Cook Seymour in 1925, district of Auckland, born August 25th 1905. Abraham Vincent Gash died in 1949, Emma remarried in 1951 to William V. Hewitt. Emma Cook Hewitt-Gash nee Seymour of 57, Skipton Close, Ferryhill, County Durham, died June 3rd 1984. Probate Liverpool July 11th, not exceeding £40,000.

In God’s safe keeping. Rest In Peace.

Joseph Gash is remembered at Chilton on C107.01, C107.04 and C107.12, at Spennymoor on S131.02, S131.03 and S131.11 and in the DLI Book of Remembrance page 305.

The CWGC entry for Private Gash

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk