Photograph and extra family information courtesy of Terrie.
Born: 1883, Framlingham, Suffolk.
Died: 22nd January 1916; age: 32; KiA.
Occupation: A Hairdresser with his own Barber’s Shop, at The Mount, Ipswich. He was also an Insurance Agent.
Enlistment Location: Ipswich.
Date of Entry Therein: 10th October 1914.
Rank: Private; Service Number: 3/9320.
Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion.
Medals Awarded: Victory, British War & 1914 Star.
1891 Market Hill, Framlingham, Suffolk
Christopher was 8 years old and living with his widowed mother & siblings.
Sarah Elizabeth Gibbons (nee Smith), a Hairdresser – employer, born Comerton, Cambridgeshire.
George Robert Gibbons, 16, an Apprentice Hairdresser, born Framlingham.
Florence Gertrude Gibbons, 13, born Framlingham.
Beatrice Vera Gibbons, 10, born Framlingham.
Robert Acfield Gibbons, 6, born Framlingham.
Stanley Douglas Gibbons, 5, born Framlingham.
1 hairdresser’s assistant – Wilfred Warner Thurston, age 20.
In August 1889, after the death of her husband, Elizabeth Gibbons employed Wilfred Thurston as a hairdresser’s assistant. She submitted to the local newspapers an article to introduce Wilfred.
Elizabeth Gibbons – Hair Dresser & Perfumer, of Market Hill, Framlingham – In returning her sincere thanks to those custombers who so liberally supported her late husband, begs to announce that she has engaged an Experienced Young Man to carry on the business in all its branches, and earnestly solicits the continuance of their favours for the sake of herself and her seven fatherless children.
In the summer of 1891, Christopher’s mother, Sarah married Wilfred Warner Thurston, born 1870, Ipswich – died 1904, Framlingham, Suffolk.
1901 34, Elm Street, Ipswich.
Christopher was 19 years old, a Hairdresser. He was living with his employer, 27 year old Arthur Bulmer, a Hairdresser.
1911 14, Orwell Road, Ipswich.
Christopher was 28 years old, a Hairdresser – employer. He was married and Head of the Household, his in-laws were living with his family.
George Cuthbert, 57, a Bricklayer, born Hollesley, Suffolk.
Ellen Cuthbert, 54, born Westerfield, Suffolk.
Christopher’s father was Arthur Edward Gibbons, born 1853, Framlingham – died 1889, Framlingham. He was a Master Hairdresser. In 1872, Arthur’s mother, Eliza Gibbons announced in the local Framlingham Weekly News, that following the death of her husband George Gibbons, a Hair Dresser & Perfumer, of Church Street, Framlingham for upwards of 32 years will now be carried on by her son, Arthur Gibbons. The business would also continue to sell walking sticks, soaps, perfumes and razors, etc., etc. In July 1880, Arthur moved his business to Market Hill, Framlingham, formerly the business premises occupied by Mr. Smith, Fishmonger.
Christopher’s mother, Sarah Elizabeth Gibbons, died 1900, Framlingham.
In 1905, Ipswich, Christopher married Edith Elizabeth Cuthbert, born April 1884, Ipswich.
They had 5 children.
George Frederick Robert Gibbons, born 1st July 1906, Ipswich.
Ernest Christopher Stanley Gibbons, born 1st July 1906, Ipswich – died 2nd September 1906, of Acute Enteritis & Exhustion, at 22, Tomline Road, Ipswich.
Ernest Christopher Gibbons, born September 1907, Ipswich.
Winifred Ellen May Gibbons, born February 1910, Ipswich.
Frederick Stanley Gibbons, born August 1912, Ipswich.
Soldiers’ Effects to Edith Elizabeth Gibbons – widow.
Christopher’s brother, Robert Acfield Gibbons of 13, Riverside, Chelmsford, also fell. A Private, service number 34188 of the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment. Presumed KiA 14th April 1917 at Marchy-de-Preux, during the Battle of Arras. Remembered on Bay 7, Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Family note: The company that Robert Acfield worked for in Chelmsford went to court to try and keep him working for their Company. Sadly they lost the request and Robert lost his life.
A family note:
Christopher Gibbons was my paternal grandfather! I have been to his memorial at Ypres several times with my wife. Always remembered!
Suffolk and Essex Free Press – 23rd December 1885 – NARROW ESCAPE On Friday morning, 18th December, Arthur Gibbons, a hairdresser, left three of his children sitting by a fire in their night-dresses, he having been called to the shop by a customer. Shortly after he heard shrieking, and on going to see the cause, found one of his children, a little girl, aged 5 years, in flames. Arthur promptly did his best to extinguish them, but not before the child was considerably burnt about the arms. Fortunately the little one was wearing a guernsey, which no doubt saved her life, as the night-dress and chemise were nearly burnt off her body. The wounds were quickly dresses; and it is hoped the little sufferer will soon recover.
Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion:
The Suffolk Regiment diary noted:
“A terrific explosion occurred. The ground shook violently and an immense column of earth shot up in front of the Bluff carrying away the south-eastern face of it. The explosion was not followed by any bombardment or attack and for the moment no one realised what happened. Men in the trenches next to the canal were buried several feet deep; ammunition boxes were hurled hundreds of yards; and all the surrounding trenches upon which the Battalion had spent so much labour, as well as the systems of tunnels within the Bluff, collapsed completely.”
Dazed and confused, command was quickly regained. The War Diary noted that “the garrison of trench 28 immediately opened rapid fire” as the men awaited the counter attack they felt sure would come. Lieutenant Dix, finding none of his men had survived the explosion, took what men he could find and immediately manned the right hand lip of the crater against attack. They waited for the enemy, but thankfully, they nor their artillery came.
The official figures for killed wounded or missing that day will probably never be known. The official figure now, is 45 Suffolk men killed that day; all of whom were privates and NCOs. No officers of the Battalion are recorded as being killed that day.
The Battalion received a special commendation for their actions that night by the commander of 3rd Division; Major-General R. Haldane, who described their actions in a Divisional Memo which was typed out and pasted into the War Diary by the then Adjutant; Captain H.C.N. Trollope. It concluded: “The conduct of the Battalion under these trying circumstances , was excellent, all ranks behaving in a soldier-like manner, so that their position, which might easily have become serious, was never in danger.”
Of all the amazing incidents that occurred that night, perhaps the tale of No. 4142 Sgt Harry Bragg was probably the most courageous. The Regimental History modestly recorded his award of the DCM as being “for conspicuous gallantry” but the truth was far more amazing. Bragg and his men were manning the front line just yards from where the mine was detonated. Initially blown upwards, they were subsequently buried under almost four feet of earth. Bragg succeeded in digging his way out, then single handedly dug out four of his comrades; one of whom was wounded. They then manned the crater for the remainder of the day and what was describes as “hot fire.”