Remembering Ernest George Gentry Natural History Museum died Ypres 13 July 1915

Ernest George Gentry of the British Museum (Natural  History) was killed in Ypres, Flanders, Belgium on 13 July 1915. As Ernest Gentry has no known grave, he is remembered on Panel 34 of  the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial to the missing.

cwgc menin

He died serving as a Lance Corporal, no. 6896 in the 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment on 13 July 1915.

Working for what is now the Natural History Museum, his name is included on the staff war memorial near the entrance.

According to his WW1 medal record cards (including a 1915 Star), after enlisting in Shepherds Bush, Middlesex and undergoing training, he entered the France ‘Theatre of War’ on 25 May 2015. He appears to have been amongst reinforcements to this regular army battalion which arrived in France in January 1915.

The website has digitised the original typed war diaries which record day by day what happened to the 2nd East Surreys. The website records of the 2nd East Surreys  that “of the 1000 who went up the line [in 1915] only 200 survived in just 5 days of action.”

I can’t find a surviving WW1  service record for Ernest Gentry. Other Ranks are not mentioned by name in the unit’s war diary. Gentry may have been amongst the draft of 25 men who arrived on 27th or the 119 who arrived on 28th May 1915.

The 2nd Battalion East Surreys (The Glasgow Grays) were being reinforced for losses sustained in an earlier gas attack and fighting during the Battles of St Julien and Frezenberg as part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915.

On the 13th July the Battalion was in trenches again “casualties to noon killed two, wounded 2” including 2 /Lt. F. L.Carter , a “Quiet day”.

One of those casualties was likely to have been Gentry, who has no known grave.  The other 2nd East Surrey casualty is probably Private H. F. Aldridge killed on 12 July 1915 and reburied at Voormzeele Enclosure No. 3 Cemetery, Ypres.

The Natural History Museum archives website lists Gentry’s museum career as being appointed ‘boy attendant’ in Department of Zoology around 8 May 1899 (corroborated by an entry in the Edinburgh Gazette 9/5/99 p. 463 Civil Service Commission), becoming an attendant 26 August 1903 and transferring to the Department of Botany in 1910.

Ernest was born in 6 May 1884 to Richard Gentry, a Police Sergeant (1891) living in Fulham and later (1907) Travelling Agent. Ernest had 6 surviving sisters and brothers who thankfully survived the war.

In the 1911 census Ernest is listed as a Civil Servant (Attendant) at 32 Delvino Road, Fulham alongside his growing family.  On 28 March 1907  he married Hilda Mary French (1887-1952)  of 25 Onslow Gardens, Kensington, daughter of Joshua French, an Engineer.  By the time he died, they had several young children: Dorothy Hilda Gentry (1908-1987), Ernest Charles Gentry (1909-1996) and George Richard Gentry (1912-1982)

Ernest George Gentry, remembered. 


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