Wilfred Henry Gann 19 October 1917

Wilfred Henry Gann was only 22 when he fell. He was a native of Oundle and was at Laxton School for just 18 months, leaving six years before the start of the war, when he was just 13. He is next heard of in Australia in New South Wales. He emigrated there in 1914 and worked as a butcher.

He enlisted on 20th January 1916, aged 20 as a private in the 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion. He sailed back to England for training in July 1916 and arrived in France in November of that year. In June 1917, he was commended for his bravery at Messines Ridge. He was badly wounded in the left thigh on 17th October in an attack on Passchendaele village and died two days later.

“I deeply deplore the death of so splendid a man and so excellent a soldier,” wrote his commanding officer to his parents. “Your late son always distinguished himself in action by his courage, his coolness and his determination. With his willing and cheerful obedience of all orders, his loyalty, his upright and honourable bearing and his devotion to duty, he set us all a splendid example.”

Wilfred Gann was the last of the ‘Laxton School 5’ to be killed, dying of wounds on 19th October. He was buried in the Nine Elms Cemetery, west of Poperinghe. His headstone has the simple inscription “Faithful unto death”.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow