Archie was born in 1898 at Sheepbridge Chesterfield. The 1901 census shows the family living at 48 Sheepbridge Lane Whittington. The members of the household are listed as follows:
William H Gill Head aged 34 in 1901 Profession Wagon Inspector Born in Chesterfield
His wife Ellen Gill aged 36 in 1901 Born in Chapel on le Frith.
Eldest son Ernest Wm Gill aged 8 in 1901 born Derbys Sheepbridge
and Archie Hy Gill aged 2 in 1901 born Derbys Sheepbridge.
By the census of 1911 the family have moved to 205 Broomhill Lane Old Whittington and William and Ellen have had another child Evelyn May Fletcher Gill who in 1911 is aged 5.
In 1911 Archie is 12 yrs old and presumably a scholar, although this was not entered on the 1911 census.
Archie attended Sheepbridge United Methodist Church Sunday School. He is mentioned in the Derbyshire Courier 17 May 1913 as attending the prize giving and receiving a prize from Mr W Staton. It was quite poignant whilst reading this article, as there are many family names and names of other men who a few years later were fighting for King and Country, and indeed are now listed on the War Memorials of Whittington.
The United Methodist Church can be seen on the left of the above map.
Prior to joining up Archie worked for the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co, as did his father.
The next information I could find is an entry in Military records showing that Archie enlisted in the 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. The Service Records for Archie must have been destroyed in 1940 when thousands of records were destroyed in a bombing raid at the War Office repository in London. Therefore, there is no record of the date Archie enlisted but as you will read in the article below he joined up in 1917.
Cap Badge of the Leicestershire Regiment
He died of his wounds on 23rd May 1918, aged just 19yrs.
Archie was first mentioned in the Derbyshire Courier on 18th May 1918 when it was reported he had been wounded.
The next report was 1st June 1918 and a transcript of that report is below –
‘The news came through some little time ago that Private Archie Gill, of Old Whittington, had been wounded, turned out to be more serious than most people thought. Later letters showed that he was gradually growing worse, and he died. He wrote cheerful letters home even after he had been conveyed to the hospital on a stretcher. In civil life he worked for the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. and went up nearly a year ago when he was 18. His parents who live in Broomhill Lane Old Whittington, have received many letters of sympathy from friends in the district, including one from the Sheepbridge United Methodist School, where he was a scholar up to the time he joined the colours’.
I cannot confirm exactly where Archie was wounded, but the 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (which in July 1916 had been transferred to 21st Division) took part in the Battle of the Lys. This was the German offensive, Operation Georgette, which took place near Armentieres, on the River Lys, with the objective of capturing key railway and supply roads and cutting off the British Second Army at Ypres. Further information can be found here
The 21st Division took part in two major phases of the Battle – The Second Battle of Kemmel (25-26th April) and the Battle of the Scherpenberg (29th April). There is a good chance Archie would have been involved in one or even both of them before he was wounded.
This is the entry from the Commonwealth War Graves records
Archie is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery France (cemetery details can be seen here) and the inscription on his grave reads:
‘At the Pearly Gates he’ll meet us with the same sweet loving smile’
Archie was related to my Great Aunt Edith through marriage, he was her brother in law, and I visited the grave in 2011. The photographs are below.
Archie was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and is commemorated on the Whittington War Memorials.
His brother Ernest also served in the First world War in the Sherwood Foresters. Ernest married my Great Aunt Edith in January 1918 and they lived in Sutton Coldfield. I visited them many times as a child. Ernest died in 1968 and Edith in 1972.