The King's School
Roll of Honour
|Captain Gilbert Trenchard CARRE|
9th (2nd Reserve) Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) attached to B Company, 6th (Service) Battalion
Date of birth: 12th December 1891
Date of death: 20th November 1917
Killed in action aged 25
Buried at Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, Villier-Plouich Plot III Row B Grave 12
|He was born at 14 St John's Terrace, Radipole, Weymouth, Dorset on the 12th of December 1891, the twin son of the Reverend Arthur Augustus Carré and Florence (nee Heath) of the Rectory, Smarden.
He was educated at Lambrook School, Bracknell, and at the King's School Canterbury from January 1906 to December 1909, where he was a member of the Cricket XI in 1909 and of the Rugby XV, winning his rugby colours in 1909.
On leaving school he worked as a schoolmaster at Eagle House School near Sandhurst.
On the 18th of August 1914 he enlisted at St Paul's Churchyard as Rifleman 349 in the 7th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade where he rose to the rank of Acting Corporal and where he was in the Signals Section. It was recorded at his medical examination that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall with grey eyes and yellow hair. He was discharged from the Rifle Brigade in order to accept a commission on the 22nd of February 1915.
He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment on the 23rd of February 1915 and was posted to the 6th Battalion the same day. In March 1915 he was posted to Oxford for officer training.
He joined his unit in France on the 13th of February 1916 and took part in heavy fighting being wounded on the 3rd of July 1916 in the battalions attack on Ovillers on the Somme.
On the 20th of November 1917 the battalion was involved in the Battle of Cambrai. At 6.20am the lead companies advanced behind a screen of tanks which crushed wire and was effective in dealing with enemy strong points. As a result the following infantry took many prisoners and had little to do until the strong point known as Pam Pam Farm was reached. Here the Germans put up a stout defence, but with the tanks they were overcome, the battalion pushing on to Le Quennett Farm and Lateau Wood. Quennett Farm fell to the tanks as well and some of the battalion entered Lateau Wood and began clearing it.
Major Alderman DSO began organising an attack on some machine guns to the north of the wood which he was anxious to silence. He went forward with Lieutenants Boucher, Newsholme, Stiebel and Carr with a small party of men and, working along the northern edge of the woods, came upon a large party of Germans around the guns. Instead of standing their ground, the Germans bolted and the small group of West Kents secured the guns and set off in pursuit only to come under fire from inside the wood. Major Alderman fell mortally wounded as did Lieutenant Carré. Lieutenant Boucher was killed outright and Stiebel was badly wounded. By early afternoon the battalion had gained and secured all their objectives.
Gilbert Carré was one of the principle characters for whom Alan Thomas wrote his autobiography A Life Apart. Thomas wrote of Gilbert Carré's death and the subsequent burial of five Royal West Kent officers:-
"The next morning I saw Gilbert lying on the ground. He had been carried from the place where he had fallen near Lateau Wood to the ruins of Pam-Pam Farm. In his eagerness he had rushed ahead of his men, careless of his safety. He had been killed instantly by a bullet through the heart. There was hardly any trace of the wound on his uniform, beyond a small hole. His eyes were closed and his features were calm and unaltered.
His pockets had already been emptied by the stretcher-bearers, but they had left his whistle which still hung by a strap from one of the buttons of his tunic. It was one of the whistles I had handed out to him at Noeux and for which he had given me a receipt "Received four sirens"(I have that receipt still). I unfastened the whistle and did the tunic button up again.
For a little while I stood looking down at him, trying to understand what had happened. Then I came away.
But the worst eruption of this General's temper occurred during Gilbert's funeral. Five of our officers were buried that day, Alderman, Gilbert and three others. They were buried in a common grave. The funeral service was held at seven thirty in the morning. A little knot of us, including the General, stood by the side of the grave while the Padre read the service. He was a nervous little man, the Padre, and his voice reminded one of a stage curate's. That in itself was enough to irritate the General (and the rest of us, too, for the matter of that). Also it happened to be raining and we all of us wanted our breakfast mitigations but not excuses for the General's outburst.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust", quoth the Padre, taking up a handful of earth and scattering it upon the first body.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust", he repeated, taking up another handful of earth and scattering it upon the second body.
The General shifted from one foot to the other and heaved a very audible sigh.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust", began the Padre, stooping for yet another handful of earth.
The General exploded. "That's the third time you've said that!" he exclaimed. "Why must you keep repeating yourself".
Even the tough ones among us were shocked at this interruption of the funeral service. We took deep breaths and looked down our noses.
The Padre made a feeble attempt to stand his ground.
"The Church ordains, sir," he said, "that those words shall be spoken over each body".
The General shrugged his shoulders. "Get on with it", was all he said.
To his shame the Padre funked the rest. Forsaking the ordinances of the Church he scattered his last handful of earth upon the three remaining bodies, hurrying through the words as best he might. In another two minutes the service was over.
I walked back with the General in silence.
At breakfast he turned to me suddenly and said: "You think I was right, don't you, Thomas, to stop that fellow repeating himself like that?"
Fortunately, before I could answer, he retracted the question. "Oh, well. I daresay I was a bit impatient", he grumbled. "Let's forget it."
His commanding officer wrote:-
"He had the honour of leading a company into action on the 20th of November. At our final objective, while leading his men with extraordinary courage, he fell victim to a German sniper and his death was instantaneous. He was by far the most valuable officer in the company, but his loss as an officer will be nothing to me compared his loss to me as a personal friend".
His brothers, Lieutenant (Observer) Edward Mervyn Carré, of 15 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, was killed in action on the 16th of October 1916, and, Private 1113 Maurice Tennant Carré, 1st Battalion Australian Infantry, was killed in action on the 2nd of September 1915.
He is commemorated on the war memorial at Smarden and on the memorial at Eagle House School, Sandhurst.