1882 - 31st July 1917 (age 35)
Company Serjeant Major C/12468
21st Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps
In the late 19th Century, the Gilling family had made their wealth as leather curriers in Sowerby. They lived in a number of the large and impressive houses such as Holmfield House on Front Street. Henry Gilling was a member of this successful family living with his wife Laura at Hambledon House and later Brier Villa on Topcliffe Road, he listed his occupation as currier leather. They had two sons, William born in 1882, and Alexander about nine years later.
Laura Gilling died in 1901 aged 44, her son William was then living in Selby as a boarder and working as a bank clerk, he enlisted into the West Yorkshire Regiment the following year. At 20 years of age, he was 5ft 5ins tall, weighing 126lbs with brown hair, grey eyes and one false tooth. He appears to have served 13 years and therefore have seen active service in the war before his time was completed and he was discharged in 1915. He then attested to the 21st KRRC (Yeoman's Rifles), "A" Company on 25th November 1915 now weighing 132lbs. So William would have trained under Earl Feversham with the other Sowerby men such as Harry Kendrew and William Thomas Seavers, and the Crossley twins from Thirsk. His conduct sheet records that he was found guilty of alcoholism, an incident that occurred at Helmsley on 3rd January 1916, and he was forfeited three days' pay. His punishment was awarded by Lt.Col The Earl of Feversham.
The battalion departed for France on 5th May 1916, and there are no further records of William until he was killed in action on 31st July 1917. On that day the battalion was involved in the Battle of Pilkem Ridge which was the first major action in the Third Battle of Ypres. There is no known grave, and William is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial panel 51 & 53. Henry Gilling died in 1926 aged 69 and he is buried in St.Oswald's churchyard.
The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.
Information about Willian Aubery Gilling on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Information about Willian Aubery Gilling on the War Graves Photographic Project website
Part of the St Oswald's Church website