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Private Owen Gilmore, (Buffs) East Kent Regiment 1 month 2 weeks ago #74361

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Abergele is a town on the north coast of Wales, between Rhyl and Colwyn Bay.


....From the Front. - Letters have been received from Mr Arthur Galliers and Mr Owen Gilmore, who are both in South Africa, stating that they are both in good health. From the tone of Galliers' letter he means to gain a V.C., if it is to be had for fighting.
The Welsh Coast Pioneer, 12th April 1900


Patriotic Scenes at Abergele.
.
An "Absent-Minded Beggar" Returns Home.

And Receives an Overwhelming Reception.
"PIONEER" SPECIAL.
.... Eight months ago, Owen Gilmore, Mount Pleasant, Abergele, was a simple chimney sweep, unknown to fame. To-day he is regarded as a hero, who has bled for his Queen and country, and is probably the most envied man in Abergele and Pensarn.
....Such is the fortune of war!
....In November Private Gilmore, of the "Buffs," received an intimation from the War Office to rejoin his regiment at once. He bid good-bye to his wife and children - there were two - with the prospect that he might never see them again.
...."Absent-minded beggar!"
....The title, somehow, didn't seem to fit on this occasion. Mingled with the strong desire to fight for his fatherland were the pangs of sudden separation that seemed to cause a dull ache, which all the "absent-mindedness" in the world couldn't cure.
....The gallant "Tommy Atkins" went on his way. He marched across the trackless veldt, untiring and indomitable, cheerful and uncomplaining. On some occasions he seemed to bear a charmed life. Bullets whistled about him like hail, and his comrades fell fast. And the irony of it all! His first serious injury was sustained by a fall, a fall down a cliff some forty feet deep, which severely wrenched his knee. Then
A BULLET GRAZED HIS THIGH,
searing it like a red-hot iron. Another one marked his neck. Then a slight attack of fever seized him, and put him in the hospital. After his convalescence he was invalided home, the home which he never expected to see again. A short stay in Woolwich Hospital completed his cure, and he was granted two months' sick leave.
....The telegram to Mrs Gilmore announcing that her gallant husband would arrive at Abergele by the 10.57 a.m. train on Thursday caused unbounded enthusiasm in the town.
....The inhabitants decided to kill the "fatted calf" in honour to the returning hero. The venerable but energetic bellman (Wilkes Roberts) was fired with patriotic ardour, and to the old man's credit it should be recorded that he stirred enthusiasm to a high pitch. He rang out the news with such good will that very soon there was hardly an inhabitant who did not know that a gallant townsman was returning home from the war.
....Mrs Roberts, the Hesketh Arms, generously sent to the station an open carriage, drawn by a splendid pair of horses. As the hour of eleven drew near, a stream of people, old and young, including members of the Urban Council and their clerk, proceeded towards the station. On the platform was an animated crowd. Mrs Gilmore, accompanied by her children - the cynosure of all eyes -
STOOD WAITING, HAPPY AND EXPECTANT.
....The train drew up with a jerk. Then, as a soldierly figure attired in the brilliant uniform of the Buffs, stepped from the train a thundering cheer went up - a cheer which startled all the passengers in the carriages. Instantly a row of inquiring faces appeared at the windows. Heads were thrust out, and the spectators were treated to a novel, and, at the same time, most affecting picture.
....Among the first to greet the returning hero was Mr Mason, J.P., who shook his hand warmly, and congratulated him upon his safe return. Numerous hands were held out. Congratulations, mingled with cheers, echoed round the station. Gilmore, who seemed surprised at the unexpected demonstration, looked round for his wife. She stood at the entrance door with the baby on her arm and the little boy at her side. Her eyes shone with happy tears, and her mouth quivered as the "absent-minded beggar"(?) strode towards his wife, whom he took in his arms and embraced tenderly. Then he kissed the baby, then his little boy, whilst the delighted crowd cheered lustily. What a romantic meeting! Search all the novels ever written, and one couldn't find an incident which would appeal to popular sentiment more powerfully than
THE TOUCHING LITTLE SCENE.
....With difficulty Gilmore and his family reached the outer precincts of the station, where a remarkable scene presented itself. A crowd of several hundred people had gathered round the carriage, the younger members carrying small flags, which they waved with vigour to the accompaniment of cheers. More hand-shaking, and then the proud and happy family seated themselves in the carriage. But were horses going to have the honour of taking home the man who assisted in the capture of the redoubtable Cronje and his horde? Certainly not. The horses were unharnessed, and very justly they looked sulky under the process. A long rope was attached to the vehicle, and then, amid scenes to which this quiet locality is unaccustomed, a number of sturdy fellows drew the carriage, gaily decorated with flags and bells, through Pensarn, along Kinmel-terrace, and thence to Abergele. The venerable Wilkes sat on the "dicky," and rang his bell until his arm ached with the exercise. The crowd
GRADUALLY SWELLED IN PROPORTION
until a mob of nearly 700 people followed the procession into the main street at Abergele, where flags hung out in honour of the gallant soldier's return.
....Then it was decided that the wonderful scene should be made immortal, and Mr Thomas Leigh was requested to photograph the carriage and its occupants. This enterprising young townsman did so, and succeeded in taking several splendid photographs, which, with commendable enterprise, he succeeded in putting on view in less than two hours later.
....The carriage was stopped at the entrance of the Bee Hotel, where Private Gilmore and his family were generously entertained to a sumptuous dinner, the expenses of which were defrayed by several gentlemen. During this time a crowd assembled in front of the hotel, and sang patriotic songs for the diners, a little attention much appreciated.
....All this ceremonial was somewhat a trying ordeal for Gilmore, who bore it with becoming modesty.
....After the repast the happy family were driven home, followed by a number of gifts, and for the remainder of the day the gallant "Tommy" received the warm congratulations of his neighbours, with whom he went over his adventures again and again.
Interesting Interview.
GRAPHIC STORY OF GILMORE'S EXPERIENCES.
TERRIBLE PRIVATIONS.
.... On Saturday, writes a "Pioneer" representative, I interviewed Gilmore at his residence in Mount Pleasant, Abergele.
....When I entered the little cottage a homely scene was disclosed. The gallant fellow was in his shirt sleeves pottering about the kitchen. Evidently he hadn't got over the novelty of his return home, and perhaps felt a little confined within the four walls of a kitchen after roaming over the boundless expanse of the South African veldt.
....Mrs Gilmore was busily engaged ironing, and upon my entry she courteously bade me take a seat, and commenced an apology, which I cut short. There had been a continual stream of visitors all day. The two daughters of their old vicar, Archdeacon Evans, were amongst the callers, and had left a supply of tobacco. Friends dropped in one after the other to congratulate the returned warrior, until it seemed as if Mount Pleasant was the one centre of activity in Abergele. After the unusual and unexpected demonstration of the day before, the reaction was setting in, and that probably accounted for Mrs Gilmore's pale cheeks. But as her husband was in the midst of his experiences, and related the active part he took in some of the battles, the ironing ceased; she picked up a bonnie little girl of some fifteen months - the image of her mother, and, sitting down, listened to the story with a pleased and proud look on her face.
....Gilmore was
NO FEATHER-BED SOLDIER
when he was called out last November. He was a seasoned veteran, although only 33 years of age. He enlisted in 1885, when 18 years of age, in the 8th King's Liverpool Regiment at the Chester depot. The following year his regiment was ordered out to India, where he remained for seven years, in the Bengal presidency. In 1891, he was transferred to the Buffs, a celebrated regiment, and in 1892, they made a long journey of over 1,193 miles in length. They entrained at Calcutta, and proceeded to Allahabad, a distance of over 500 miles. The rest of the journey to Jullandur was made on foot, a distance of nearly 700 miles. In 1893, he was discharged from the army - having served the time limit, - and placed on the first-class army reserve force on a pension of 6d per day. At the end of four years, in 1897, he rejoined the Buffs, passed the medical examination, and was then placed in the second pension was reduced to 4d per day, as his chance of being called out for active service was reduced in ratio.
....During the autumn, Gilmore anxiously followed all the phases of the South African question. Since leaving the army he had married, and
A YOUNG WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN
were dependent upon him. But, like an old war horse, he sniffed the scent of battle from afar, and after the first-class reserves had been called out he resigned himself to the inevitable, and commenced to make preparations to meet the call. This came early in November, and the poor fellow felt the pangs of separation from his loved ones keenly. He was ordered to proceed to Canterbury. There, all the necessary equipment was supplied, and at Aldershot, where the Buffs subsequently removed, each man was supplied with a khaki suit. The regiment, having received everything it required, sailed from Southampton in the Union Line s.s. Gaika, under the command of Colonel Higson, and numbered 900 strong. Half of this number were reserves called in from all parts of the country, and a good many belonged to the Kent constabulary. Gilmore belonged to the "G" Company, commanded by Capt. McDoul, who joined his regiment in South Africa, from India. The voyage out was magnificent, the weather being as perfect as possible.
...."How were you treated on board," I asked.
...."Like gentlemen," was the quick response. "If every man jack of us had personally paid for our passage I hardly think we could have claimed more attention than we got. The food was of
GOOD QUALITY AND WELL COOKED."
...."What about the tales of starvation and poor accommodation we heard so much about?"
...."Well," returned Gilmore cheerfully, "it's no use telling a d— lie about it, is it? I believe on some boats the fare was not as good as it should have been, but so far as we were concerned - perhaps we were lucky - we had nothing to complain of."
...."Who catered for you, the Government or the shipowners?"
...."The owners of the steamer looked after everything, and no doubt if that plan had been followed out from the commencement of the war we should have heard of no scandals like those."
...."Did you have a good time on board?"
...."I should think we did. There were concerts and sing-songs nearly every night."
...."Yes," said Mrs Gilmore, smiling, "I think they had a good time of it."
....After a grand voyage of nearly three weeks' duration, the regiment was landed at Cape Town on a Sunday morning. The docks formed a perfect hive of industry, and the system of unloading the vast stores and equipment from the vessel was wonderful. In two hours from the time of landing the gallant Buffs had entrained in a
SPLENDID CORRIDOR TRAIN.
"Here again we were lucky," remarked Gilmore. After a continuous journey of three nights and two days, only stopping at intervals to pick up rations, De Aar Junction was reached. After a short stay, the regiment was despatched, in company with the Oxford Light Infantry, via Naaupoort and Rhosnead Junction to Thebus, a small country station in the centre of Cape Colony not marked on the map. Their duty on this occasion was to form an escort, accompanied by four breech-loading pieces of artillery, to repair at Steynsburg a railway bridge and some culverts which had been blown up by the Boers. The repairs took some days, and when complete the escort and engineers took the train back to De Aar Junction. During this period they never caught sight of any Boers, although they were not supposed to be far off. Skeletons of dead horses lay strewn about the veldt in all directions.
...."Now," said Gilmore with a grimace, "we experienced our first discomfort in railway travelling. We came in a corridor train, and returned in open cattle trucks, which wasn't at all pleasant."
...."Well, I suppose you had ups and downs continually?"
...."Yes. The only thing
WHICH WORRIED US AT TIMES
was the want of water, and then on occasions we were simply swimming in it. I remember once that we were nearly three days without a drop of water, which was a horrible experience."
....After reaching De Aar Junction the brigade under General Knox proceeded to Modder River and became a part of Lord Methuen's army. On the way they passed through Graspan and Belmont, the scenes of some of Lord Methuen's early conflicts when he first advanced towards the relief of Kimberley. There were no bodies to be seen, nothing but the white skeletons of horses, which gleamed in the sun with a peculiar radiance.
....During this time Lord Roberts had commenced to develop his wonderfully successful plans for relieving Kimberley, and it was not long before a general advance was ordered.
...."Was the plan of campaign known to the troops generally?"
...."No; we knew nothing about it at all. There were plenty of rumours, but we had no real idea what we were going to do or where we were going. We became part of the
SIXTH DIVISION UNDER GENERAL KELLY-KENNY,
and afterwards, as the world knows, it was our division, in conjunction with French's cavalry, that had the honour of bringing Cronje to bay. We left Modder River and Lord Methuen's army at Magersfontein, and, leaving the railway, struck across country with an enormous transport. We then made a series of forced marches to Ramsden and the Riet river. It was then we realised some big movement was in progress, and everyone was excited and on the alert at the prospect of a brush with the enemy. After we crossed Riet river the division marched almost day and night with halts for taking our meals. I think we marched about twenty-two hours out of the twenty-four, until we reached Cliff's Drift, not far from Jacobsdal. Leaving Cliff's Drift we came to Klip Kraal, where we halted for a short time."
...."Had you seen any Boers during this march?"
...."Yes, lots of them, but there was no proper fighting.
THEY FIRED DESULTORY SHOTS
at us, but they were too far away to do any harm."
...."Any signs of Cronje?"
...."There were signs of him, but we were beginning to think he had got away."
...."What regiments did the Sixth Division consist of? Were there any Welsh regiments in it?"
...."No, none at all. There was the 2nd Gloucester Regiment, the 2nd East Kent Regiment ("The Buffs") - that was mine - the 15th West Riding Regiment, and the Oxford Light Infantry."
...."Had you any guns?"
...."Yes, one battery of artillery."
...."When did you first her that Cronje was near?"
...."Our scouts brought in the information on the Thursday night that he and his army were in sight. Then we commenced to fire a rear-guard action, and the enemy at last took refuge on a line of kopjes, which we were ordered to clear. This we did, and it was terrible work. The kopjes would be about that size," and Gilmore pointed in the direction of Plas Ucha mountain. "Our regiment was one of the first in action, and my company was the first to reach the foot of the hill. The artillery kept on firing over our heads, and during the scramble up the hill we couldn't help noticing
HOW SPLENDIDLY THE SHRAPNEL SHELLS BURST
among the enemy on the top of the ridges."
...."You didn't use lyddite shell there?"
...."No, only shrapnel and common shell."
...."What was it like gong up the hill?"
...."Not very pleasant, sir. There were big boulders and bushes, behind which we sheltered when we could."
...."Had you many casualties?"
...."Not a great many then. My rear rank man fell down badly wounded, and one poor fellow who was behind me was shot in the heart. He didn't utter a sound as far as I could hear; he simply threw up his arms and collapsed. Another man was hit on the toe. As soon as we approached the top of one kopje the Boers wold evacuate it and shelter on the next one, and so on."
...."You were not hit that day?"
...."No; I went through without a scratch, although, of course, I had many narrow escapes. The artillery was in action up to the night of Friday, the 16th, and on Saturday morning our scouts reported that Cronje had evacuated the whole of the position in the night. During the whole of Saturday we followed hard on his heels, and on Sunday he was trapped. French had left Kimberley almost immediately after he effected his relief, and struck across the country to try and head Cronje off. In this he was successful, and succeeded in holding him up until we got within striking distance. Then he
SOUGHT REFUGE IN THE RIVER BED,
where he commenced to dig trenches and form his laager. He was forced into the river by Macdonald's Brigade. Then gradually the other divisions came up until he was hemmed in all round by Lord Roberts's army. We shelled Cronje every day from the 18th to the 27th. During the week relief forces came up in all directions to try and effect the release of the Boer army, but we not only beat them off, but captured a number of prisoners. In one of these actions the Buffs took a leading part. We killed during the engagement about 80 of them, and captured 75 prisoners. On that occasion I assisted Lieutenant Higson, who was wounded, out of the firing line. A bullet had shattered his right arm. On trying to find my place again I took the wrong route, although the company was not far away. We were situated on the top of a kopje, and getting too near the edge,
I ROLLED DOWN THE SIDE OF THE CLIFF,
a distance of about 30 feet. I was somewhat stunned by the fall, and my right knee pained me considerably. O bandaged it up with one of my putties, and succeeded in getting back to my company."
...."Where were the Boers during this period?"
...."Firing was going on all the time, and eventually we drove them away, and captured 75, taking them to the camp. I commandeered a horse from one of the prisoners and rode him into cap."
....Gilmore then narrated how Cronje was captured, and the details of the fighting en route to Bloemfontein. In the action at Driefontein the Buffs and the Welsh Fusiliers had 140 casualties. He had several narrow escapes whilst many of his comrades were shot down all round him. One bullet grazed his neck, and another his leg. They had no tents to sleep in - nothing but the bare veldt. At night it was horribly cold, and if it had not been for a heavy Boer rug which he found he might have caught a fatal cold. It rained for 14 days almost without cessation. By the time they reached Bloemfontein the exposure and other causes had insidiously undermined his health, and he was sent to the hospital suffering from an attack of fever. He was then moved down to the coast by easy stages, and was sent back to England on the s.s. Cymric in a draft of 230 convalescents. On arriving at Southampton, on the 8th of May, the voyage having occupied 10 days, he was admitted to Woolwich Hospital. Having recovered, he was discharged off duty, and proceeded to Shorncliff. He was the recommended for two months' sick leave, which commenced on Friday last.
The Welsh Coast Pioneer, Friday 1st June 1900


....Private Owen Gilmore, of the East Kent The Buffs, has received a call to join his regiment, who are sailing at an early date for South Africa. Gilmore was invalided home from South Africa about 18 months ago.
Rhyl Record and Advertiser, Saturday 12th April 1902


....Private Owen Gilmore, who was called out to rejoin his regiment, East Kent (The Buffs), with the intention of sailing for South Africa, returned home on Saturday discharged.
Rhyl Record and Advertiser, Saturday 17th May 1902


Abergele Police Court.

....The monthly sitting of this court was held on Saturday in the Courthouse, Abergele, before Mr J. Herbert Roberts, M.P., (in the chair), Dr Wolstenholme, Captain Hughes, Messrs J. D. Miller, Thomas Evans, and J. D. Jones.
....Owen Gilmore, chimney sweep, Mount Pleasant, Abergele, was summoned by Inspector Roberts for using violent language with intent to put a young man, named Richard Roberts, in bodily fear.
....The Clerk pointed out that Roberts was not present, but the Inspector said he had taken out the summons under the county bye-laws.
....Defendant admitted using the language in question, but it was because the young men were coming up to his house, which was private property.
....The Bench expressed sympathy with the defendant in his position, and fined him 1s and costs.
The Welsh Coast Pioneer, Friday 12th December 1902


A Violent Threat.
....Owen Gilmore, labourer, Mount Pleasant, Abergele, was summoned for using language of a threatening character against a man named Richard Roberts. - Inspector Roberts proved the case. - Defendant, who served in the early part of the Boer war, admitted that he threatened to "put a sword through the guts of anybody that came near his house." When he came home that day he found his wife drunk. She had been breaking up the crockery, and when he entered the house she began screaming "murder." The result was that a crowd of young fellows came to within 20 yards of his house, and he defied them to come any nearer. - Defendant was fined 1s and 8s 6d costs, but he stoutly refused to pay anything.
The Rhyl Journal, Saturday 13th December 1902
___________________________


Private John Owen Gilmore. of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, was reported missing during the battle of Loos, on 27th September 1915, aged 19, later presumed to have died on that date. He was born at 18, Mount Pleasant, Abergele, in 1897, the son of Owen and Harriet Gilmore, and was the eldest of their six children. The Gilmore family was recorded as still being at that address in the 1911 census. Both John Owen and father Owen were recorded as being iron ore miners in 1911, and when John Owen enlisted, the address he gave was 269, New Chester Road, New Ferry, Wirral, Cheshire.
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