Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pte. Geoffrey D. Gardiner, R.A.M.C. (1920 - 1940)

 1. A 1938 photograph of Geoffrey Denton Gardiner
[Courtesy of Cumbria County Archives]
2. Headstone of Pte. Geoffrey D. Gardiner, R.A.M.C.
(Lille Southern Cemetery, Grave Ref.: 2 / E / 3).
[Photograph taken with permission]
 For additional information click on 'Comments' below.
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3 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Some biographical information

Private Geoffrey Denton Gardiner, R.A.M.C. (1920 - 1940) was with No 10 Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.). In 1940 he was in France with the British Expeditionary Force when the Germans invaded the Low Countries and northern France. Geoffrey Gardiner was not among the men of the B.E.F. who were evacuated from the Dunkirk Beaches. In fact, he would never return to the U.K. He died in a Lille hospital on 1 August 1940.

Geoffrey Denton Gardiner was born in 1920 in the Wokingham district of Berkshire in southern England. He was the son of Frederick William ('Fred') Gardiner and Ruth Gardiner (née Marshall) of "Anathoth", Pepper Lane, Early, Reading, Berkshire. Private Gardiner's parents were married in the Chesterton district of Cambridgeshire in 1915.

During the Second World War, at the end of March 1940, the 50th Division of the British Army was based in the Lille area close to the Belgian border. Part of Division's duties included building up the frontier defences around Lille. However, as Private Geoffrey Gardiner was with the Medical Corps he would not have been directly involved with these particular activities.

After the German invasion of the Low Countries in May 1940, Private Gardiner's unit, No 10 C.C.S., used the Lille hospitals to receive and care for wounded soldiers from the Division. The Army Medical Corps staff worked closely with the civilian nursing staff and Red Cross volunteers of Lille. From 16 May 1940 onwards those whose lives could not be saved were buried in Lille Southern Cemetery.

Although the exact circumstances of Private Geoffrey Gardiner's wounds and death are not known, it is known that he continued to be cared for in the hospital at Lille even after the German Occupation. It was during this period that the "Godmothers" of Lille, civilian volunteers of the city, helped and cared for the seriously wounded British soldiers even giving them additional rations from their own scant resources.

However good the medical care, inevitably some soldiers did not pull through. Private Geoffrey Gardiner was one of them. He passed away on 1 August 1940 and was laid to rest in Lille Southern Cemetery.

Meanwhile, some of the "Godmothers" of Lille continued to correspond with the seriously wounded soldiers after they were transferred to POW camps in Germany. Geoffrey Gardiner's "Godmother" at the hospital in Lille was a Red Cross nurse, Sister Olga Baudot de Rouville. Sister Baudot de Rouville had been a Red Cross volunteer in occupied Lille during the 1914 - 1918 war. During WW2 she also became a key figure in the French Resistance - especially helping Allied soldiers and airmen to evade capture and return to Britain.

Following Geoffrey Gardiner's passing, Sister Baudot de Rouville kept in touch with his parents, Fred and Ruth Gardiner. The photograph of Geoffrey Gardiner (above) is from Sister Baudot de Rouville's personal collection. After the war Sister Baudot de Rouville visited the Gardiners at their home in Berkshire. She stayed with the family for several weeks, helping with household duties such as jam-making and helping to look after the family's goats and hens. In other words, this was the sort of help that one might expect from a visiting family member.

Private Geoffrey Gardiner is also commemorated on the WW2 Parish War Memorial of St Peter's, Earley.
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Sunday, 16 June, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Commonwealth War Graves commission citation

Below is the CWGC citation for Pte. Geoffrey Denton Gardiner, RAMC:

Name: GARDINER, GEOFFREY DENTON
Rank: Private
Service No: 7356713
Date of Death: 01/08/1940
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Medical Corps
10 Casualty Clearing Station
Grave Reference: Plot 2. Row E. Grave 3.
Cemetery: LILLE SOUTHERN CEMETERY, Nord (France).

Additional Information:
Son of Frederick William and Ruth Gardiner, of Earley, Reading, Berkshire.
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Lille Southern Cemetery

Photograph No. 2 (above) shows Geoffrey D. Gardiner's headstone in Lille Southern Cemetery. It was taken with the kind permission of the cemetery authorities in May 2014.

The epitaph on the headstone is the following Biblical quotation (King James Version):

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
[Colossians 3:4].
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Sunday, 25 May, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Dedication

This article is dedicated to the memory of Private Geoffrey Denton Gardiner, R.A.M.C.:

“Be near me when I fade away,
To point the term of human strife,
And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.”

"In Memoriam"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 - 1892)
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Sunday, 25 May, 2014  

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