Ernest Guy Giblin


Ernest Guy Giblin, 1892-1916, is one of the eight Stoke men known to have died in World War One. He is commemorated on the Stoke Memorial Gates.

Giblin1Ernest Guy Giblin. Courtesy of J and D Giblin.Click image to enlarge
giblin family home StokeThe Giblin family at home in Stoke c 1896. The four brothers in the photo all took part in WW1: l-r Guy, Maurice, Wilfred. Baby Louis is behind with parents, David and Mary Phoebe Giblin. Courtesy of J & D Giblin. Click image to enlarge

12032 Sapper Ernest Guy Giblin was the second of David and Mary Phoebe (née Taylor) Giblin’s seven sons who were born between 1891 and 1903.  Guy, as he was known in his family, was born on 10 December 1892.   Four of the Giblins’ seven sons served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War 1: Maurice, Guy, Wilfred and Louis.  Guy grew up to become a carpenter.  He enlisted in January 1916 and embarked for Egypt as a member of the 12th NZEF Reinforcements on 1 May that year with the NZ Engineers No. 2 Field Company, Wellington, aboard the Ulimaroa (HMNZT 51).  His ‘Description on Enlistment’ records Guy as being of a “medium” complexion with blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He was 5’ 11” tall and weighed 10st 7lb with chest measurements 33-37.5”.

Also on board the Ulimaroa was another recruit from Stoke, a good friend of Guy’s, 12047 Sapper Harold Bernard Jellyman.  Harold was, like Guy, a builder/carpenter by trade.  Although they both enlisted on the same day, Harold was attached to the No.3 Field Company.   

The 12th Reinforcements arrived in Egypt in early June.  On 26 July both Guy and Harold were on the high seas again, this time aboard the HMT Ivernia, sailing from Alexandria to Southampton.  On arrival in England on 7 August, Guy spent the next ten days training at Sling Camp in Hampshire.  Harold and his No.3 Field Corps, however, had a different destination, being marched to the NZ Engineers’ Reserve Depot at Christchurch, also in Hampshire, for over six weeks’ training.   The next move for Guy came on 17 August, with a two day journey to France, where he found himself in Etaples with the NZ Infantry & General Base Depot. 

Giblin Guy and Maurice Stoke SchoolGuy & Maurice Giblin at Stoke School c 1904. They are in the back row, the 4th and 3rd male pupils from the right. Courtesy of J & D Giblin. Click image to enlarge
Giblin and JellymanHarold Jellyman and Guy Giblin. Courtesy of J & D Giblin. Click image to enlarge

Three weeks later, Guy’s service records indicate that he was “detached to N.Z. Division” and was “Posted to Strength” with No.2 Field Company.  These seemingly innocent postings mask the fact that Guy and his company suddenly found themselves thrust into the heart of the Somme offensive which had begun on 1 July.  At 6:20am on 15 September, the third phase of the offensive, the battle of Flers-Courcellette (15 – 22 Sep), got underway.  This battle is noted for being the first in which tanks were used and they played a vital support role for the British 41st and the NZ Divisions’ objective of capturing the village of Flers.  The battle was typical of the ferocious and gruesome fighting in which the two sides were engaged. 

Giblin at MurchisonGuy (2nd from left) hard at work in Murchison. Courtesy of J & D Giblin. Click image to enlarge

Four days later, while involved in the laying of a railway line from Longueville to Delville Wood, Guy was reported to have been wounded.  He was evacuated to a Field Ambulance and then transferred to the 38th Casualty Clearing station at Heilly.  On 22 September the severity of his injuries warranted his admission to the No. 9 General Hospital in Rouen where he was reported to be seriously ill.  On 27 September he was transferred to the Hospital Ship Western Australia in Rouen at which point his Casualty Form noted that he was wounded in the back and had a severely fractured spine.  Two days later he was admitted to the No. 1 General Hospital at Brockenhurst in Hampshire, England and he died there on 3 October.  He was buried in Brockenhurst’s churchyard.

September 1916 proved to be a particularly black month for Stoke’s recruits: also fatally involved in this battle was 6/1500 Private Albert Edward Cresswell who was on the front line here with the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment.  He was wounded on 16 September and, after returning to the fray, killed in action at Flers on 17 September.  4/1034 Sapper Leslie George Ching was also involved at Flers, being wounded on 16 September and then treated at No. 9 General Hospital in Rouen between 19 and 27 September.

somme battles 1000Somme Battles 1916 map
Click image to enlarge

Harold Jellyman died a few months later, in February 1917, killed in action at Messines in Belgium.  Guy’s brothers all survived World War 1: Wilfred was wounded at Gallipoli; Maurice, also wounded, and Louis both served on the Western Front.



Note: Somme Battles 1916 map. Retrieved from  Map produced by Geographx with research assistance from Damien Fenton and Caroline Lord. It originally appeared in Damien Fenton, New Zealand and the First World War (Penguin, Auckland, 2013). 

Updated May 12, 2020

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