Gelder, John Henry (Jack)

Pte, John Henry Gelder, 11th EYR

Hull Pals Memorial Post. Private, JOHN HENRY GELDER 26983. Born Hull, in 1897, John was the eldest of two children and only son of George Gleder (1873-1933) and Alice Gelder (1872-1935), of 3 St Mark’s Avenue, St Mark’s Street, Hull (Army Records Address). His sister was called, Dora.

A Labourer before the war, at Scott’s warehouse on the High Street, he was 5 foot, 10 inches tall, 34.5-36.5 inch chest, 124 lbs weight,

He enlisted at Hull City Hall on 11th August 1916. trained at Withernsea and joined the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in France on 22nd December 1916. What it must have been like joining a depleted band of brothers still licking their wounds from the desperate November attacks on the Somme, I can only imagine. I see war-weary, unwelcoming men who have seen too much and lost too many friends to forge new relationships with these raw, green recruits looking for role models and finding only cynicism and bitterness. It must have been a lonely place. I wonder too if the new men found comradeship in each other thus creating two groups within the same battalion, rather than the original Pals of old. John was killed in action on 3rd May 1917 in front of Oppy Wood and his body was never recovered; he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, a young man of 20. There are photographs of John and his sister Dora, she raised four children and lived until 1985. I bet she never forgot her big brother.
Veronica Sanderson writes 29/09/2013: John Gelder had a good singing voice and used to sing in competitions in and around Hull. When some of his friends returned after the war, they went to see John’s family and told them that John, before they went over the top, had sung ‘At the end of a perfect day’. His Sister, my Grandma, married and her first born was a boy, she named him John, after her Brother. At 3 years of age, John drowned in the drain near St. Marks Street. My Grandma had lost both her John’s.

His death and address were reported in the Hull daily Mail, on 23/07/1917. *

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Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France