One of four children born to George and Louisa Gill (née Coney), Petty Officer George Gill was born in Twyford, Hampshire, England in 1878. His naval career began on the HMS Northampton, a boys’ training ship, in 1897. He went on to serve on no less than 17 battleships before joining the crew of the Laurentic, by which time he had risen to the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class.
He married Blanche Stuart Kerr in Portsmouth, in the spring of 1916, just a year before the sinking of the Laurentic. A century after his death, the impact on the family of George Gill is clear in the correspondence they shared.
His Service Records describe a man, five feet nine and a half inches tall, with blue eyes and a fresh complexion, and speak of his character as “Very Good” throughout.
Violet Kerr, his sister-in-law called him “poor, dear George” in the letter she wrote to her Brother Fred on the day that Blanche received news of George’s death from the Admiralty. At the time of his death, George’s wife was newly pregnant. George may not even have known he was to be a Father. His Son, Ronald George Stuart Gill would never know his Father and was soon to lose his Mother too when Blanch died in 1918. He never married.
George Gill died from exposure after leaving the ship and is buried in St Mura’s Churchyard, Fahan, County Donegal.
Sources and acknowledgements:-
Census Returns of England and Wales 1891, 1901, 1911. The National Archives of the UK
General Register Office England and Wales http://www.gro.gov.uk
We are indebted to Gail Mamers for providing the photograph of George’s wife Blanche and son Ronald and the letter from Violet Kerr to her brother Fred (Gail’s grandfather). In November 2019 Gail also discovered the first photograph we have of George Gill, possibly taken on the occasion of his wedding.
We are also grateful to Peter Henley, great-nephew of George Gill, for providing the photograph of George’s parents’ grave, which includes a memorial inscription to George.