Gilbert Cecil High

Gilbert Cecil High

Born in Great Yarmouth in 1891, Gilbert was the only son of William, a commercial clerk at the Great Yarmouth Water Works, and Emma Ruth (née Perfitt). Gilbert had a younger sister and an older stepbrother. The family were well off enough to employ a domestic housemaid.

Gilbert started work as a bank clerk with Capital and Counties Bank. In 1911 he was based at their Newmarket branch, lodging with Alfred Sadler and family at 15 Lisburn Road, Newmarket. By 1914 he was working at the bank's St Ives branch.

As soon as war broke out Gilbert enlisted with the Hunts Cyclists. In December 1915 he was given a commission with 2nd/6th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. For more than a year Gilbert was stationed at various training camps in England, preparing new recruits for war.

In January 1917 Gilbert embarked to France, attached to the 2nd/5th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was immediately in the thick of war, experiencing the worst of trench conditions during Operations on the Ancre.

In February 1917 the Germans carried out an organised retreat to a formidable defensive formation, the Hindenburg Line. During the retreat, the ground conceded was made as difficult, uninhabitable and dangerous as possible. Once the withdrawal was detected, British forces advanced cautiously.

Gilbert's platoon, numbering up to thirty men, was part of the advance. On Wednesday 14 March 1917 they were harassing the retreating Germans and entered an abandoned enemy gunpit. Snipers injured three of Gilbert's men. Having dressed their wounds, Gilbert was sharing his supply of rum when a German shell hit the gunpit. He was killed instantly, aged 26yrs. His death was reported in the Yarmouth Independent of 24 March 1917. He is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, France.

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