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  • Plaque on the Bullecourt Digger plinth.
Person Details
Nottingham
Bertie Edward was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Gamble (née Drew). His father Thomas Gamble was born in Radford, Nottingham, in 1846, the son of John Gamble and his wife Mary (née Birch). John Gamble was recorded on the 1851 Census as a bobbin and carriage maker (employer) but by 1871 was a hosier employing 24 hands while his son Thomas (25) was also a hosier, employing 20 hands. His mother Elizabeth Drew was born in Kooringa, southern Australia, in about 1856. Kooringa was a mining township established in the mid-nineteenth century and now known as Burra South, the main part of the town of Burra. Thomas Gamble has not yet been traced on the 1881 UK Census and it is likely that he had already emigrated to Australia. Thomas and Elizabeth were married in about 1880, probably in Australia as there is no UK record of their marriage, and their eldest surviving child was born in Adelaide. According to the 1911 Census, Thomas and Elizabeth had had six children, two of whom died young. Their four surviving children were Mary, Fanny E, Bertie Edward and Nellie. Mary was born in Adelaide in about 1882 while Fanny E. was born 'at sea in the estuary off the Thames' in about 1887, suggesting this was on their return journey to the UK. Bertie Edward was born in Nottingham in 1889 (O/N/D) and Nellie also in Nottingham in 1892. In 1891 Thomas, a bank clerk, and Elizabeth were living on Robin Hood Chase, Nottingham, with their three children Mary, Fanny and Bertie. Also in the household was Elizabeth's unmarried sister, Emma Drew (28 b. Kooringa) who was living on her own means, and a domestic servant. By 1901 Thomas was a lace manufacturer on his own account and living with his wife and four children at 43 Burns Street, Nottingham. Thomas and Elizabeth had moved to 12 Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, by 1911. Elizabeth was named as head of household, occupation boarding housekeeper, while Thomas was an embroidery manufacturer (employer). Of their four children, only Nellie was in the home on the night of the Census; her three siblings have not yet been traced on the UK Census. Also in the household were two male boarders, a mechanical engineer and a chartered accountant. It is likely that Bertie, who would have been 21 in 1911, had already emigrated to Australia. At the time of his death in 1917 his parents were living on Forest Road, Nottingham.
09 Apr 1917
27
Corporal
Although Gamble's unit is unknown it seems certain from his date of death, 9 April 1917, that he was killed as Australian forces attacked German lines near Bullecourt on the Hindenburg Line. The Australians advanced without artillery support in order to surprise the enemy but the attack was a costly failure. George Deane Mitchell recalled, ‘This was to be a silent attack without artillery. We saw the tanks over on the right – big black blurs outlined sharply against the snow ... Their droning noise aroused the German lines. Big shells smashed among us. Our platoon commander, Caldwell, got it first. Others staggered back looking like snowmen save where blood showed black. “Advance!” ... A tornado of thunder and flame fell upon us, beyond anything I had known or imagined. Close as trees in an orchard were the trees of flame. The blast of one shell would send me reeling forward, while another would halt me with a wave of driven air. A headless man fell at my feet, and as I rolled over him a sheet of flame fanned over with blinding light. A score of men just in front melted in bloody fragments as a big-calibre shell landed. The air was dense with crackling bullets, and thick with the blood-chilling stink of explosives. The plain was carpeted with bodies, mostly lying still, but some crawling laggingly for cover. A man cannoned into me and fell leaving a bloody patch on my shoulder.’ Source: Backs to the Walls: A Larrikin on the Western Front (1937) by George Deane Mitchell A second assault near Bullecourt, launched on May 7th, was more successful but 10,000 Australians fell in the fields around the village in seven weeks.
Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 16 & 17 April 1917: ‘Gamble. Killed in action April 9th, Corporal Bert (Sonny) Gamble, AIF, aged 27 years, beloved only son of Tom and E Gamble, Forest-road.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) This record has been compiled from a Nottingham Evening Post obituary, Free BMD and census data. CWGC/Australian WW1 military records have no record of Bertie Gamble's death in action. Gamble's mother was from South Australia and his sister Mary was born in Adelaide. Bertie seems to have emigrated between 1901 and 1911 and may well have lodged in the first instance with maternal relatives. Research by David Nunn and Rachel Farrand
Remembered on

Photos

  • Plaque on the Bullecourt Digger plinth.
    Photo David Nunn - Plaque on the Bullecourt Digger plinth.