Monday, April 25, 2016

In Flanders Fields....

In Flanders fields the poppies grow, Between the crosses row on row....

On or about the 26th of October, 1917. These were the words  which officially described the death of Private Ralph Gair , Service Number 203219, of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1/6th and 1/4th) who was killed in action at Ypres in Flanders at the age of 25 years. Information regarding his death can be found on FindmyPast in the GRO war deaths, army and other ranks, 1914 -1921 record set entitled British Nationals Armed Force Deaths 1796 - 2005.   Ralph Gair was my first cousin three times removed. This Anzac Day, 2014, rather than writing about an Australian military ancestor, I have chosen to remember this cousin from Northumberland, England,  who was killed during active service during World War One. 

Ralph Gair was born in 1892 to Ralph senior, the brother of my great great grandmother, Hannah Tait Gair.  Hannah whose married name  was Morrison. Hannah, along with her husband John Morrison,  was a pioneer of Cooroy in Queensland, Australia and was living in Australia in 1917, when her nephew Ralph was killed at Passchendaele in Belgium. His memorial as a soldier missing, killed in action, is in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium. Information about Tyn Cot and other World War One memorials for soldiers in the 4th Territorial Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers can be found here.

Tyn Cot Memorial Foto: Johan S 17:12, 1 December 2006 (UTC) Reproduced under Creative Commons ©© Wikipedia

The UK Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901 - 1929 shows that Ralph's personal effects following his death, were sent to his widow Gertrude Isabella Spark (known as Isabella), whom he had married in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1916. Ralph was killed in action barely a year after he married Isabella. I can only imagine the distress Isabella Gair suffered on receiving the news that her loved one had been killed on foreign soil and would not be returning home.

Image taken by Brooks during the Battle of Broodseinde, showing a group of soldiers of the 8th East Yorkshire Regiment moving up to the front, silhouetted against the skyline.Wikipedia ©©

The Army Museum website is an excellent resource for family historians researching UK soldiers, from the Army register of effects.

Ralph Gair's Receipt for Attestation which is listed as a British Army Pension record on, shows that in May of 1916, prior to his marriage, he was in the 6th battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Ralph Gair's attestation form would have been completed at the time he enlisted and is dated May 8, 1916. Some interesting sources of information online regarding  British Attestation forms can be found here, (British) and here (Australian).
Ralph Gair, as a member of both the 6th and 4th Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers, participated in the following battles:

Battle of the Somme 1916 - This occurred in France from July 1 to November 18, 1916 on both sides of the River Somme. Information about this battle can be found via this link.

Battle of Somme, Image Wikipedia ©©

Battle of Arras 1917 April  9 - May 16, 1917

Third Battle of Ypres also known as The Battle of Passchendaele July to November 1917

Image taken at Chateau Wood near Hooge, Ypres October 29, 1917  Wikipedia ©©

Ralph Gair's wife Isabella never remarried and died carrying his name in Spetember of 1965, almost 48 years after his death in the First World War.


Flanders Poppies Image Wikipedia ©©


  1. My first thought was that Isabella had lived on, carrying her live in her heart but the sad reality is that there was a significant shortage of men after the war. So sad for her Ned all those young women.

  2. So much loss....hard to fathom.