STANLEY HERBERT HALL & J W GITTINGS

Location: Holy Trinity Church, Church Road, Abbots Leigh, Bristol, BS8 3QT

PHOTO AND REPORT NEEDED

Cross 1

25927 Lance Corporal Stanley Herbert Hill, 7th Bn., Somerset Light Infantry

Details on cross:
Inscription (on shaft, beam, and on circle plate):
IN LOVING MEMORY
NO 25927 L/CPL S HALL
(17TH) SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
KIA 7-6-17

Text type (e.g. hand-written, GRU tags, carved): painted (hand written), two alloy GRU tags on top of shaft (but not easily readable from ground level)

Cross dimensions (millimetres please)
Shaft Height: Not recorded (the cross is positioned too high to reach the top, it is probably over 1450mm high)
Cross beam width: 675mm
Width of wood: 77mm
Thickness or depth: 33mm

Circle plate (if celtic type)
Outer diameter: Not measured; 178mm vertical from base of the cross shaft to the outer circumference of the circle (measured on lower right hand side of cross only)
Width of circle: 36mm
Thickness: 20mm

Other information
Mounting to wall: On the wall of the west end of the south aisle, near two framed rolls of honour; not fixed to the wall, the cross hangs from a nail just above the top of the shaft
Detailing: Some front edges of the shaft and beam have been bevelled
Evidence of use in field (earth marking, cracking, staining, shrinkage): Staining on bottom tip of shaft
Surface insertion depth (into ground if apparent): Not recorded, but visible in photograph
Finish (varnish, paint, oiled, unfinished etc): Some kind of finish (paint or varnish), with lettering painted in black
Condition (cracked, paint peeling, woodwork, damage etc): Some scuff damage to shaft, including slight blurring of part of the inscription; more significant damage to the bottom left part of the circle plate, which shows signs of ad hoc repairs (using nails?)

Notes and observations:
A hook has been added to the shaft below the inscription, which has been used to hang a Royal British Legion poppy wreath

L/Cpl Hall’s name does not appear on the war memorial at Abbots Leigh or in the memorial book inside the church. The name of a “H. S. Hill” does, however, appear on the war memorial cross in nearby Easton-in-Gordano churchyard.

L/Cpl Hill died on 07/06/1917, aged 36, and is buried in Lagnicourt Hedge Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France (I. A. 11.). The CWGC records say that he was the son of John and Harriet Hall, of Pill, Somerset; and husband of Nellie Maud Hall (nee Hare), of Severn View, Abbots Leigh, Bristol.

I have not checked the 7th SLI’s war diary, but there is the following paragraph in: Brendon Moorhouse, Forged by fire: the battle tactics and soldiers of a World War One battalion: the 7th Somerset Light Infantry (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2003), p 138:

“On the following day [7 June 1917, near Favreuil] three men from the battalion were killed by an enemy sniper who was variously identified as operating from an advanced enemy post that was on the road to Pronville, or hiding in the long grass. Four other men were killed by shellfire.”

A footnote (p. 142) adds that “The dead men were Privates Richard Soloman, Henry May, Griffith Jones, John Gunter, Alfred Trent and Lance Corporals Stanley Hall and Leonard Carr.”

From CWGC:
HALL, STANLEY HERBERT
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 25927
Date of Death: 07/06/1917
Age: 36
Regiment/Service: Somerset Light Infantry 7th Bn.
Grave Reference: I. A. 11.
Cemetery:LAGNICOURT HEDGE CEMETERY
Additional Information:
Son of John and Harriet Hall, of Pill, Somerset; husband of Nellie Maud Hall (nee Hare), of Severn View, Abbots Leigh, Bristol.


Cross 2

2594 Lance Corporal James Walker Gittings,1st Bn., Hertfordshire Regiment

Details on cross:

IWGC 3-J-11
2591 L/CPL J GITTINGS
1/1 HERTS REGT
19-7-16

Text type (e.g. hand-written, GRU tags, carved): Alloy GRU tags

Cross dimensions (millimetres please)
Shaft Height: 870mm
Cross beam width: 400mm
Width of wood: 50mm
Thickness or depth: 230mm
Circle plate (if celtic type)
Outer diameter: N/A
Width of circle: N/A
Thickness: N/A
Square plate (if supported)
Width of Square arms: N/A
Angle of arms: N/A
Thickness: N/A

Other information
Mounting to wall: None; currently stored loose at the back of the church resting on bench at the west end of the south aisle, near framed rolls of honour for both wars, a framed display on the dedication of the war memorial, and the other battlefield cross
Detailing:
Evidence of use in field (earth marking, cracking, staining, shrinkage): Slight staining, including traces of soil
Surface insertion depth (into ground if apparent): Not recorded
Finish (varnish, paint, oiled, unfinished etc): Some kind of finish is visible on the top of the beam
Condition (cracked, paint peeling, woodwork, damage etc): Slight signs of woodworm (not sure whether this has ever been treated); the beam has also worked its way out from the shaft slightly; a screw has been fixed to the shaft just below the beam — not sure whether this was an attempt at repair or part of an earlier fixing
Notes and observations:

The name of J. W. Gittings also appears on the war memorial cross in Abbots Leigh churchyard. He died on 19/07/1916 aged 28, and is buried in Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg-l’Avoué, Pas-de-Calais, France. The CWGC registers state that he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Gittings, of The Priory Gardens, Abbots Leigh, Bristol. More detail (and a newspaper photograph) is provided in the memorial book available inside the church. This provides the following information:

“James Walker Gittings was born in Dunster, Worcestershire in 1888. His parents Charles and Emma Gittings lived at The Tynings, Moor Hill Cottages in Failand. James was the eldest child, with two younger sisters Mabel and Anna. James lived for a time at Wooton-under-Edge, but subsequently worked, like his father, as a gardener at Tyntesfield near Wraxall, living in 1911 in The Bothy at Tyntesfield with four other gardeners.
He enlisted in the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment in 1914, was amongst the first troops to arrive in France, fought at Ypres and the Somme but was killed in action in July 1916 aged 28.

Charles and Emma, moved to Abbots Leigh sometime between 1911 and 1916, The War Record of their son James is given as ‘The Priory Gardens’ which at the time lay within the grounds of The Priory. This later became Priory Cottage when Priory and its grounds were sold in the 1950s. Charles and Emma died in 1936 and 1931 respectively.”

Images of both crosses, etc. can be found on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/13706945@N00/albums/72157677782467314

From CWGC:
GITTINGS, J W
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 2594
Date of Death: 19/07/1916
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: Hertfordshire Regiment 1st Bn.
Grave Reference: III. J. 11.
Cemetery: LE TOURET MILITARY CEMETERY, RICHEBOURG-L’AVOUE
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Gittings, of The Priory Gardens, Abbots Leigh, Bristol.

Survey and photographs courtesy of Michael Day
Date of survey: 10 March 2017