John William Gilday, Private 9914, 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action 18th November 1914 in Belgium, aged 34
John Gilday was born in Macclesfield in 1879, the son of Eliza and Bernard Gilday, a carter on a farm. In 1891, at the age of 12, John was employed as a Silk Winder and living at 8 Pool Street with his parents and younger siblings Elizabeth, Sarah, James, Thomas and Emily.
John joined the Militia on 30th April 1897 and on his attestation papers stated that he already belonged to the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. At that time he was working as a Fustian Cutter for Mr Whitehead. John was described as 5 feet 6½ inches tall, weighing 111 pounds with a 32 inch chest, a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light hair.
In July 1898 John joined the Army Reserve and was embodied into the 4th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in January 1900, at the same time being appointed Lance Corporal. He embarked for South Africa on 25th February 1900 and shortly afterwards, on 1st April 1900, he was promoted to Corporal.
The 1901 census shows John’s family had moved to 3 Waller Street, next door to the Worrall family, and another sister, Ellen, had been born. John, then aged 22, is listed on the census living at the family home and, like his father, working as a carter on a farm. However, his army service papers state that he returned from South Africa on 19th May 1902 and was discharged on the termination of his period of engagement on 29th April 1903. This contradiction remains unexplained at present; it’s possible his parents thought that the census enumerator needed details about all members of the family, even if they were not at home.
In April 1904 John joined the Manchester Regiment for a short service engagement, serving initially with the 1st Battalion. His service records indicate that he was working as a bricklayer when he attested. He transferred to the Army Reserve after completion of his three years service in April 1907. His transfer document states that he was now 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a 38 inch chest, 33 inch waist, helmet size 21 inches and size 8 boots. His trade was a bricklayer and he intended to live at 3 Waller Street. The description also states that he had a tattoo of a female figure on his left forearm and a sailor on his right forearm, he was slightly flatfooted and he had lost ten teeth.
The 1911 census records John living as a boarder with the Luttman family in Newton Heath, north-east of Manchester, and employed as a blacksmith’s assistant at a railway carriage works.
As a reservist, John was recalled for service on the outbreak of war in August 1914 and posted to the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
The 2nd Battalion was stationed at the Curragh in Ireland before the War and landed in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 17th August 1914. John Gilday was killed in action on 14th November 1914 at Wulverghem, Belgium.
Private John Gilday is buried in Grave Ref. I.C.15 at Kandahar Farm Cemetery, some 14 km south of Ypres in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for John William Gilday, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private John Gilday is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and St George’s Church war memorials. He is also remembered in Macclesfield Cemetery on the memorial stone marking his parents’ grave, plot no. Z 6650.
Brother of James Gilday who was killed in action at Gallipoli in August 1915.