Private, 59204, Bertie Gilbert Boulter,
59204, 8th Bn., West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own)
who died on 10 June 1918
Bertie Gilbert Boulter, known as Gilbert, was born during the summer of 1899. He was the only surviving child of Harry and Ada (nee Bowles) Boulter. Harry Boulter was a hosiery worker making lace socks. He and Ada had married in 1895 and a daughter Doris Elsie was born the following year but sadly died aged five weeks. Gilbert also had a younger brother Wilfred Harry who died in 1906 at three years old. In 1911 Gilbert and his parents were living at Forest View, Desford Road, Kirby Muxloe but later moved to Sunnydene Villas, Spencer Street, Oadby. Gilbert was educated at Oadby Council Senior School and then received a scholarship to study at The Newarke School, Leicester, which he attended from 1913 to 1915. Gilbert was a member of the Adult School. The Adult School movement was begun in the late 18th century by non-conformist Christians, among them the Quaker Rowntree family, to teach illiterate adults to read using the Bible. The ethos was to bring biblical teaching and faith into their everyday lives, to enrich them as human beings, to help them to progress economically and to flourish socially. In Oadby many young men were involved in their various social activities.
Gilbert and his mother Ada Boulter
Gilbert’s service record unfortunately no longer exists so we do not know the date of his enlistment but we can probably assume that it was shortly after his 18th birthday in the summer of 1917. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment also known as the Prince of Wales’ Own.
On the 30 January 1918 the 1/8th (Leeds Rifles) battalion became part of the 185 Brigade, of the 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division, absorbing the 2/8th Battalion and renamed the 8th Battalion on 1 February 1918.
At the beginning of June 1918 The 8th West Yorkshire Regiment found itself in front of Essarts (on the Somme) completing defences, digging new trenches and improving the fire position. It was relatively quiet on the frontline. However, every night, the 8th West Yorks undertook aggressive patrolling to dominate no-mans-land. These were dangerous activities and a number of men and officers were wounded. There was sporadic enemy shell and trench mortar fire of the frontline – usually not lasting more than 20 minutes. However, at 8am on 10 June a dozen medium trench mortars landed on the front line trenches. Gilbert Boulter together with five West Yorks were killed. They are buried together at Bienvillers Military Cemetery. Of the six men killed in action – three were teenagers. Gilbert was the youngest at just 18 years old.
Gilbert was awarded the British War Medal and British Victory Medal
Gilbert Boulter was Buried with Honour at Bienvilliers Military Cemetery, France, grave reference XXD1. He is also Remembered with Honour on Oadby Baptist Church Memorial Plaque, Oadby War Memorial, Oadby Council Senior School Memorial in Launde Primary School and the Newarke School Memorial, Clarence House, 46 Humberstone Gate, Leicester.
Gilbert’s headstone in Bienvilliers Military Cemetery
Gilbert’s Memorial Plaque given to his parents
Gilbert is listed on the memorial plaque of the Newarke School
Other Family Members
After the war Harry and Ada Boulter created a memorial headstone in Oadby Cemetery in honour of their three children. The Oadby Urban District Council minutes of 1919 reveal that Mrs Boulter’s request to have this stone erected was contested for some time by the Graveyard Committee.
Memorial stone for the 3 Boulter children in Oadby Cemetery