Robert Oswald Gardner was born in the December Quarter of 1883, (Registration district: Cockermouth,Cumberland Volume: 10b Page: 536) in Workington, Cumberland, the eldest and only son of Robert & Fanny W. Gardner on the 1891 census. The family were living at 20, Heathfield Road, Willesden, Middlesex. Robert Gardner, 46, was head of the household and the census states that he was “Secy.WA Company,” which is a bit of a mystery, he had been born in Scotland. Any help would be appreciated. His wife Fanny W., 35 had been born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. They, I believe had been married in Wolverhampton in the December quarter of 1882 (Wolverhampton Vol. 6b, Page 1059). Young Robert Oswald, 7, had been born in Workington, Cumberland. His sister Annie H., 4 had been born in Wolverhampton, like her mother. The youngest child, Frances L. Age had been born in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.
The 1901 census sees the family had moved to Maisemore, Albany Road, Abergavenny, this time Robert A. Gardner, 56, was employed as a Secy. (Secretary?) in the firm Iron & Steel Co., Monmouthshire and the census tells us that he had been born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. His wife Fanny W. Was now 45 years old. Their son Robert O., 17, was an Engineering Apprentice, daughter Frances L. Was 11. There was a servant in the household.
Robert Oswald married in the September quarter of 1909, in the Registartion District of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire to Beatrice Amy Seargeant (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Volume: 11a Page: 85) and on the 1911 census they were living at Hill Croft, Askern, Nr. Doncaster (8 Rooms). Robert Oswald, 27, a Mining Engineer, was head of the household, his wife Beatrice Amy, 28, born Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, tell us that they had been married 1 year and a baby had been born in Askern, Yorks, who was still living. There is a servant in the household.
Robert Oswald Gardner in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 tells us that he was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment (Territorial) and was killed in Action on the 8th May 1915.
Robert Oswald Gardner in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that he was awarded Victory & British War Medals and the 15 Star. It also appears that his widow Beatrice, now remarried, probably applied for his medals in 1922 as “Widow – Mrs.E. ASHWORTH, “Undercroft,” Ellel, Lancaster.” This was written on the reverse of the card.
I do believe that she remarried in the December quarter of 1916 to Edmund Ashworth in Basford (The district Basford spans the boundaries of the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.)( Basford Vol 7b Page 326).
Robert Oswald Gardner in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 states that Robert Oswald died in Denbighshire, which isn’t true according to his Army documents and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. GARDNER, Robert Oswald of Vadoc Llay Gresford, Denbighshire mining Engineer and a Captain in the 3rd Battalion Monmouth Regiment (T.F.) died 9th May 1915 at or near Ypres France. Probate St. Asaph, 7th July to Beatrice Amy Gardner, Widow. Effects £368 17s 1d.
Gravestone Photo by Johan Moors (In Folder)
Taken from Ancestry.co.uk:-
Capt Robert Oswald Gardner Life facts
Posted 26 Jun 2014 by Pat Anderson
Capt. Robert Oswald Gardner – (1884-1915)
3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment
By Vic Tyler-Jones, President, Llai Local History Society., Wrexham, North Wales.
The village of Llay near Wrexham, North Wales, was established in the early part of the last century for the workforce of Llay Main Colliery. The ‘Main’ coal seam was found at a depth of 2,373 on September 18th 1908 but it would be another fourteen years before the first saleable coal would surface in 1922. Two of the factors, which may have contributed to this delay, were the local geology and the onset of the First World War.
On August 7th 1913, Llay Main Collieries Ltd was formed with Capt. R.O.Gardner as its first manager. Robert had qualified as a colliery manager in South Wales in 1907 and this was endorsed by qualification as ‘surveyor of mines’ on the 26th September 1913. He lived in rooms at Home Farm on the Gresford Road with his wife and children.
In 1914 the sinking of the first shaft began. A thick layer of sand and gravel near the surface hampered progress. The solution was to freeze this unstable mass and to then cut through the now solid soil, placing circular steel collars to prevent the unfrozen sand from collapsing inward.
In July 1914 this specialised task was given to a German firm with experience in such matters, the Rheinisch West Falische company. Not long afterwards the invasion of Belgium by German forces led to the declaration of war by Britain on August 4th. Unfortunately for the development of the pit, the contract with the German freezing experts was terminated and the colliery manager joined his comrades in B Company of the 3rd Battalion, the Monmouthshire Regiment.
World War 1
The French and Belgian channel ports were an important German military objective and the Belgian town of Ypres became the key to achieving this. Over the next four years four separate battles would be needed to secure its position for the allies. On the 10th August 1914 the 3rd Battalion of the Monmouthshires moved to camp at Oswestry, perhaps it was here that Capt. Gardner joined them. After training at Northampton they landed in France on the 14th February 1915 and by 3rd March they were assigned to the 83rd Brigade of the 28th Division, one of the two British Divisions and one Canadian Division holding the front line around Ypres.
On 22nd April three miles away, gas was used by the Germans against French Colonial troops at Langemark. It was the first time this terrible weapon hade been deployed, and both sides were unprepared for the devastation it caused. Luckily the Germans failed to capitalise on an open route to Ypres. More gas attacks followed, this time against the Canadians. At this time there was no personal protection against the yellowy green clouds of chlorine that could be seen and sniffed daily. The 3rd Monmouths were made ready to move up in support as a constant stream of wounded and coughing Canadian soldiers passed through the lines.
May 8th-13th 1915 The Battle of Frezenberg (2nd Battle of Ypres)
By the 7th May the Germans were only 2 miles from Ypres and onthe 8th May Capt Gardner’s B company joined the front line at Frezenberg, east of the town. This coincided with a ferocious assault by the Germans and during this Capt. Gardner was killed.
The regimental history records that :-
‘Both battalions were virtually annihilated… but they had put up a splendid fight and B Company of the 3rd Battalion earned special distinction by holding on in the front line…although quite isolated, the troops on both flanks having been driven back. Its stand has been picked out by the Official History of the War as ‘among the historic episodes of the War’.
Captain Gardner is buried at Oostaverne WoodCemetery about 3miles south of Ypres. Captain Gardner’s wife Amy subsequently moved with their three children to The Vadoc on Gresford Road in Llay.
In Memoriam – Robert Oswald Gardner
A plaque in St.George’s Memorial Chapel in Ypres commemorates the 13 officers and 335 other ranks of the Monmouthshires who fell in the second battle of Ypres. On the Frezenberg Ridge, east of Ypres there is a limestone memorial to the 1st Monmouthshire Regiment commemorating the officers and men who were killed on the 8th May.
- Captain Gardener’s dress uniform tunic and mess jacket (c. 1908) are held at the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon.
Many thanks to Vic Tyler-Jones
Researched and compiled by Mavis Williams