J9406 Able Seaman Arthur Frederick Parsons Gibson, Royal Navy
Born on 1st January 1893 in Kingsbury, Edgware, Middlesex
Died on 23rd December 1964 at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex
Arthur Frederick Parsons Gibson was born in Kingsbury, Middlesex, the younger son of Samuel Parsons Gibson and Jane née Simpson.
His brother Samuel Hart William Gibson was born on 23rd January 1891. The family lived at 20 Edgware Road, Kingsbury and his father was the Butler at Kingsbury House.
By 1901, the family lived at Main Street, Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire and Arthur’s father Samuel dealt in China, Glass and Boots and worked from home. However, on 27th October 1903, Samuel died aged only 45, leaving Jane a widow with two sons, Samuel Gibson, 12 and Arthur 10.
However, the 1881 Census showed Jane, before her marriage, as the 28 year old Lady’s Maid to Gertrude Frances, Lady Pembroke at Wilton House in Wiltshire. Once widowed, Jane again became a Lady’s Maid, this time to Lady Pembroke’s sister, Adelaide Countess Brownlow. She therefore moved to Ashridge and Arthur came with her.
On 19th May 1905, the Little Gaddesden School Log Book then records:
Admitted Arthur Gibson. This boy has never been to an Elementary School … but to several Grammar Schools. He is staying at Lady Brownlow’s Convalescent Home at Hudnall.
Arthur’s education may well have been disrupted by his father’s death and his mother’s subsequent need to find employment. He was placed in Standard 5 but found the work difficult. It is not clear why Arthur was staying at the Convalescent Home – either he was also recovering from illness, or it was considered the best place for him to live given his mother’s work as Lady Brownlow’s Lady’s Maid. The Matron of the Convalescent Home was Mrs Martha Cooper, whose sons William Cooper and Archibald Cooper are also named on the Roll of Honour.
On 21st June 1907, 14 year old Arthur Gibson left Little Gaddesden School from Standard 5.
Arthur’s Naval Record shows that he worked as a Footman before joining the Royal Navy.
Joining the Royal Navy 1
On 31st January 1910, 17 year old Arthur joined the Royal Navy. He was 5 feet 8½ inches tall with a 36½ inch chest; he had brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. His initial training took place at the shore training establishment HMS Ganges at Shotley near Ipswich where, on 30th November 1910, he was promoted to Boy Sailor 1st Class. Less than two weeks later, on 12th December 1910, Arthur was posted to HMS Victorious, a Majestic class battleship which, in January 1911, transferred from the Reserve to the Devonport Division of the Home Fleet.
On 1st January 1911, his 18th Birthday, Boy Sailor 1st Class Arthur Gibson signed up for the Royal Navy for a period of 12 years’. He was then 5 feet 9 inches tall with grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Two months later, on 1st March 1911, he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman.
The 1911 Census shows Arthur, an 18 year old Ordinary Seaman, aboard HMS Victorious at Torquay. His mother Jane was at Belton House, near Grantham with the Brownlows. Also at Belton in the 1911 Census were three men later named on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour: Footman Harold Catt, Chauffeur Matthew Fowler and Under-Butler Harold Jacobs.
Arthur’s subsequent naval postings were:
- 27th April 1911 – 14th May 1911, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Albermarle, a Duncan class battleship.
- 15th May 1911 – 5th December 1911, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Roxburgh, a Devonshire class armoured cruiser, part of the Third Division of the Home Fleet.
- 6th December 1911 – 8th January 1913, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Hampshire. That ship was also a Devonshire class armoured cruiser, initially in the 6th Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet but sent to China in 1912.
- 9th January 1913 – 18th January 1914, Able Seaman, HMS Hampshire.
- 19th January 1914 – 13th March 1914, Able Seaman, HMS Europa, a Diadem class cruiser.
- 14th March 1914 – 23rd April 1914, Able Seaman, HMS Victory I, the Naval Depot at Portsmouth.
- 24th April 1914 – 19th August 1914, Able Seaman, HMS Victory II (Magnet), also at Portsmouth.
War Service 1
At the outbreak of War, Arthur was an Able Seaman at HMS Victory II (Magnet), Portsmouth. However, on 21st August he transferred to HMS Excellent, the Royal Navy’s main gunnery training establishment, also at Portsmouth, where he stayed until 2nd October 1914.
Then, between 3rd October 1914 and 10th June 1918, Able Seaman Arthur Gibson served aboard the armoured cruiser HMS Kent. The ship took part in the Battle of the Falklands on 8th December 1914, sinking the German light cruiser SMS Nuernberg. Only one of the five German ships involved in that battle escaped: the cruiser SMS Dresden.
Therefore, for the next three months, HMS Kent was involved in the search for SMS Dresden, which avoided capture in the bays and inlets of Tierra del Fuego. However, on 14th March 1915, HMS Kent and HMS Glasgow found her at the Chilean island of Más a Fuera (Robinson Crusoe Island). After a short bombardment, SMS Dresden surrendered, evacuated her crew and was scuttled. However, Chile was a neutral state and the event led to a protest from the Chilean Government to Germany and England. The British Government responded promptly by sending apologies for this action in neutral waters; the apologies were accepted.
For the remainder of 1915, HMS Kent patrolled the waters of the Eastern Pacific. However, in Spring 1916, she crossed the South Atlantic, via the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, en route to South Africa (Simon’s Bay) for convoy duties off the West African coast. Then, on Christmas Day 1916, HMS Kent left Sierra Leone bound for Devonport, which she reached on 8th January 1917; she was only there for two weeks. Further West African coast convoy duties followed throughout 1917 and until June 1918, when HMS Kent returned to Devonport.
On 10th June 1918 HMS Kent’s company was paid off and Arthur returned to HMS Victory I at Portsmouth, where he remained until 29th July 1918. He then spent the final months of the war where he had started it, at the Portsmouth gunnery training establishment, HMS Excellent. For his War Service, Arthur was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Arthur Gibson is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His entry reads Gibson Arthur, Royal Navy. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Arthur’s brother Samuel Gibson is also listed as Royal Navy on the original Roll, though, in the light of all the evidence found, this has been corrected to Merchant Navy on the Centenary Revision.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
Between 19th January and 15th September 1919, Able Seaman Arthur Gibson was at the Portsmouth Naval Depot HMS Victory.
During this period, on 15th April 1919, Arthur, 26, married his cousin Annie Simpson, 25, at St Michael’s Church, Lichfield, Staffordshire. Annie’s father Aaron was the older brother of Arthur’s mother Jane. On their Marriage Certificate, Annie’s parents’ address, The Farthings, Lichfield, is recorded for both Arthur and Annie.
On 16th September 1919, after 9 months at Portsmouth, Arthur returned to sea, an Able Seaman aboard HMS Temeraire. This was a Bellerophon class Dreadnought battleship, which had just become a Cadets’ sea-going training ship. She undertook a series of training voyages which, between September 1919 and September 1920, took place in the Mediterranean, across the North Atlantic to the West Indies and around the west coast of Ireland and Scotland to Norway and Denmark. Arthur served on this ship until 23rd April 1921.
Final Postings 1
Arthur’s final naval postings were:
- 24th April 1921 – 4th May 1921, Able Seaman, HMS Victory I Naval Depot, Portsmouth
- 5th May 1921 – 22nd September 1922, Able Seaman, HMS Thunderer, which, like HMS Temeraire, had just become a Cadets’ sea-going training ship.
- 23rd September 1922 – 31st December 1922, Able Seaman, HMS Victory I Naval Depot, Portsmouth.
Having completed 12 years’ Naval Service, Arthur was discharged from the Royal Navy on 31st December 1922.
Arthur and Annie’s son William Arthur Henry Gibson, known as Harry, was born in Lichfield on 12th January 1924.
Board of Trade Merchant Navy C.R.1 and C.R.2 cards have been found for Arthur and show that he then joined the Merchant Navy. His C.R.1 Card records him as an Able Seaman with previous Royal Navy experience. It gives his year and place of birth and records his physical appearance: height: 5 feet 9 inches; hair colour: brown; complexion: dark. The card is stamped “M.M. Office, Victoria Docks, London” and dated 26th August 1924. It includes his Merchant Navy Discharge Number: 1109544, which would have been recorded for each ship on which he served.
Arthur’s C.R.2 Card shows that, from 29th September 1926, he was engaged on ship 145419, the P&O Steam Navigation Company’s SS Baradine. The following day, SS Baradine sailed from the Port of London to Australia on P&O’s “Australia via the Cape” route. Her Captain was Captain W Rollo and she carried 1177 passengers. The return voyage from Australia arrived at the Port of London on 9th February 1927. Arthur’s C.R.2 Card does not, however, show whether he completed other voyages and it lists no other ship numbers.
Living in Northwood 18
From 1929, Electoral Registers show Arthur and Annie living in Northwood, Middlesex as follows:
- 1929: 54 Pinner Road, Northwood
- 1930: 41 High Street, Northwood
- From 1931: 26 Townsend Way, Northwood
Arthur and Annie’s twin sons Robert Samuel and Peter Aaron were born on 15th January 1932.
The family still lived at 26 Townsend Way in 1939; the 1939 Register lists Arthur’s occupation as an Electrical Jointer’s Mate. Annie, however, had “Unpaid Domestic Duties” and Robert and Peter were at school; Harry’s entry is still redacted.
Arthur and Annie lived at 26 Townsend Way until their deaths in 1964. Annie died first, on 23rd September, followed by Arthur on 23rd December. On Arthur’s ‘Ancestry’ family tree entry, his granddaughter has noted: “Dying a couple of months after Annie we were told he died of a broken heart!” However, his death certificate records his primary cause of death as Peritonitis and Broncho-pneumonia. His funeral was then held at the Breakspear Crematorium, Ruislip, Middlesex and his ashes buried in the Garden of Remembrance, in the same plot as Annie’s – 35.N. Annie was aged 70 and Arthur 71.
6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
12. Certified copy of Marriage Certificate of Arthur Gibson and Annie Simpson
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at email@example.com.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson