Thomas Charles Gibbs (MC), Lieutenant, 7th Bn. attd. 9th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 31st May 1918 in France, aged 38
Thomas Charles Gibbs (known as Tommy) was born on 31 December 1879 in Clapham, Surrey, the son of Louisa Ellen (nee Mussell) and John Gibbs, a carpenter from Chipping Norton.
Louisa died in 1880, and the following year, one-year-old Tommy and his two-year-old twin sisters, Florence and Mabel, were living at Windmill Lane, Chipping Norton, at the home of their paternal grandmother Harriet Gibbs and her daughter, also called Harriet.
Tommy’s grandmother died in 1882 and he and his sister Florence were raised by their aunt Harriet, who moved to Rock Hill in Chipping Norton and opened a shop. Tommy’s father John later remarried and had two sons, George and John, by his second wife, Edith; Mabel went to live with her father and his family in London, but Florence remained in Chipping Norton, where she died in 1910.
Tommy was educated at Chipping Norton School and went on to enter King’s College, London University in January 1901 to study languages, afterwards spending some time teaching English and Classics at Dresden, Germany.
By 1911 Tommy had returned to England and obtained a position at Macclesfield Grammar School, teaching languages and lodging with the Allen family at 37 Hollins Road, Macclesfield. Whilst in Macclesfield Tommy met Marjorie (Madge) Brooke, of Upton Grange, Prestbury Road, whom he married on 20 August 1913 at St Peter’s Church, Prestbury. It was around this time that Tommy obtained a new position as a languages teacher at Market Drayton Grammar School, Shropshire.
The couple had two sons: Peter, born on 6 January 1915 at Red Bank House, Market Drayton; and John, born on 24 June 1916 in Macclesfield after Madge had returned to live at Upton Grange while Tommy was away serving in the Army. A poignant photograph of Tommy with his two little sons was taken in 1917 on his last leave.
In 1915 Tommy enlisted into the 7th Cheshire Regiment. After training at Bedford and elsewhere, he was drafted to France on 16 April 1918, where he served with the 9th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. In 1918 Lt Gibbs was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry; however, he was killed in action before the medal was formally awarded to him.
Lieut Gibbs was reported missing in the Macclesfield Times on 11 October 1918:
Mrs Gibbs, of Upton, has been informed that her husband, Lieut T C Gibbs, has been reported missing. The news is particularly sad in view of the fact that only recently the “London Gazette” contained the announcement that he had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The act which gained him the coveted award is officially recorded as follows: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as battalion intelligence officer. He continually visited the battalion frontage and the units on the flanks, obtaining information and carrying the C.O.’s orders. Later, with the C.O., he rallied the men and led them forward, in spite of a heavy fire of shrapnel, shell and machine-guns. He set a fine example of courage and energy throughout.” Lieut Gibbs was very well-known in the town, and was formerly the languages master at the Macclesfield Grammar School.
Lieut. T C Gibbs has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Lieut. T C Gibbs, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Lieut. T C Gibbs is commemorated on the Macclesfield Town Hall, Macclesfield Grammar School and Prestbury St Peter’s Church war memorials. Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Market Drayton and Market Drayton Grammar School war memorials, and on the war memorial in the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Courier: 9 January 1915, 1 July 1917
Macclesfield Times: 11 October 1918
Photos by kind permission of the family of T C Gibbs.