Henry James Gillam

Date of birth: 15th July 1875
Place of birth: Emsworth
Service No.: Not known
Rank: Lieutenant
Service: Royal Naval Reserves Brigade No. 1
Died: 7th April 1918 aged 42 years
Death location: Sicily


Life before the War
Henry James Gillam was the son of Harry Amos, born Cowfold, West Sussex in 1846 and Sarah G (née Cribb) born 2 November 1845 in Emsworth, Hampshire.  They married in Emsworth in 1873.  Sarah’s father was a Dairyman and Harry’s father was a House Painter.

Henry was also born in Emsworth in 1876.  Sadly his mother died in the first quarter of 1877, aged 31, leaving a baby daughter, Sarah.  His father is listed as a ‘Miller’s Stationer’.  

Without a mother, Henry and his sister Sarah had a disjointed upbringing.  In 1881 they were living with their father and had two maternal aunts to look after them – Caroline E Cribb, born 1856, and Martha A Cribb, born 1859.  In 1891 Henry was living with his maternal Grandmother, Sarah Cribb, born 1825; his sister was living with her maternal uncle, John Cribb, born 1862. Their father Harry disappeared from the records after 1881.

In 1897 Henry married Ada Maria Combes and in the 1901 census they had a daughter Florence, then aged two, and Henry was entered as a ‘Seaman – Merchant Service’; the young family was living with Ada’s widowed father, Benjamin Combes, born 1837 in Southampton On 5th October 1903 Henry obtained his Second Mate’s Certificate, number 037878.  By 1911 there was another daughter, Hilda May (aged 9) and the family was living at Ryford Villas, Woodcote Road, Portswood.  Ada died in Southampton in September 1940.

HMS Egmont

HMS Egmont

Service History

Henry was a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserves Brigade No 1, with HMS Egmont in Malta, a base for the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean.  HMS Egmont was in fact a ‘Stone Frigate’ the nickname for a naval establishment on land; Egmont was renamed in 1933 as HMS St Angelo.  While with Egmont, Henry ‘rendered very valuable services’.  He was hit by a shell and died on 7 April 1918, aged 42.

The men of HMS Egmont

The men of HMS Egmont

He is the only First World War casualty buried at the Porto Empedocle Communal Cemetery in Sicily, looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves.  The ‘Graves Registrations Report Form’ states:  ‘Exhumed from the Family Vault of Signor Bonanno Vincenzo, and reburied in the Second Section (confirmed on North, South, and East with Communal Plots, and on the West with a path that has in front the grave owned by Salvatore Giallorate).’ 



Probate was granted on Henry’s estate to Arthur John Snell, schoolmaster, on 18 September 1918; his estate totalled £362 (approximately £18,750 in 2015).

Henry was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, the General Service, and Victory Medals.

Henry Gillam is memorialised on the Southampton Cenotaph and the World War One tablet inside St Mary’s Church, South Stoneham, Southampton.


Researcher: 30th June 2015
Published: Bridgett Vane
Updated: Insert dates here

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