Pte. William Harold Gabb was the first soldier born in Broadway, Worcestershire, to die in the First World War. William, born in 1880, was the son of William Thomas Gabb, a domestic servant, and Jane Gabb (nee Cole). After leaving school William worked at John Morris’s bakery in the village before joining the police force. William was stationed at Cheltenham and in the Forest of Dean and in 1908 he married Ellen Eliza Ottley-King in Southwark, London. William left the police to join the Coldstream Guards and completed 3 year’s service before transferring to the reserve in 1911.
At the time of the 1911 census, William, his wife, Ellen and eldest daughter Ellen were living at 61 Pages Walk, Bermondsey, London and William was working as a railway policeman.
Shortly afterwards, William and family emigrated to Canada where on the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 William was recalled to serve with he Coldstream Guards. His wife Ellen and their two children returned to England in October 1914. William was posted with the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards to the Western Front from 11th Sepetember 1914 and in October wrote home from the trenches near Ypres:
“I am still all right. Sometimes we are out fighting three or four days at a time, but we are doing some very good work, beating them back every time. We have lost a lot of men. I hope I may have the same luck that I have been having. General French gives this battalion a good name: he says it is one of the best fighting battalions in the army. It is getting cold here, especially at night. Sometimes we get a lot of rain, but we have to stick it. Let us hope it will soon be over. You need not send any fags, as we get a good supply, but a newspaper comes very acceptable.”
On 7th November 1914, Pte. William Gabb was fatally wounded in action during the First Battle of Ypres. William is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, panel 11. William was awarded the British Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914 Star.
William’s widow, Ellen married Bertie Brinkley (who served with the Yorkshire Regiment during the First World War) in Hammersmith, London, on 14th January 1916 and they moved to 88c Guiness Buildings, Hammersmith. Ellen died on 18th October 1941 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.