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Arthur Frank Gribbell

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Died: 13 March 1916
 
Arthur Gribbell was the first of the two officers named on our Memorial to die whilst in the service of his country during the Great War. He died at Guy’s Hospital, London on 13th March 1916 and was brought back to the Parish of Ringmer for burial on 16th March. The pall bearers were part of a supernumerary company from the 2/5th (Territorial) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. His two sisters Isabel and Gertrude were present at the funeral. At the end of his 40 year life he left the princely sum of £98.12s.7d to his sisters.
Arthur was the only son of the former Vicar of Ringmer, the Reverend Frank Barrow Gribbell and his French wife Eliza (née Morrell). He was born on 16th October 1873 and on the following 3rd May christened Arthur George Francis Gribbell; both events occurring in British Colombia. After his death in 1916 his body was brought to Ringmer and he was interred on Thursday, 16th March. From Census data it is evident that the Rev. Frank and Eliza were in Canada for several years for, as well as Arthur, their two daughters were all shown as being born in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Colombia. Frank was the Vicar of St. Mary’s from 1891 to 1915 and is also buried in what was, at the time, his own churchyard. The entire family are buried in a row together near the south-west corner of the Church tower.

Arthur Gribbella

Captain Gribbell served originally in the Boer War with the South African unit, Cape Mounted Rifles. He was present at the Defence of Wepener and saw action at Wittebergen. For his part in that war he received the Queen’s South Africa [QSA] and King’s South Africa Medals. His QSA carries four clasps to represent the areas and actions in which he was involved. Whether or not his experiences in South Africa promoted a desire for adventure is not known but Arthur subsequently settled in Argentina. It was from that distant land that he responded to his country's call for volunteers to defend his country.

 

He rejoined the Colours and received his Commission as a Temporary Lieutenant on 29th November 1914. Promotion quickly followed and took effect from February 1915. As Captain Gribbell, he was appointed to command "A" Battery, 94th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery which, at that time, was still in England. Owing to ill-health the Captain relinquished his command in August 1915. He was initially hospitalised in Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot followed by a spell in the Lady Dudley's Hospital, Brighton before being taken to Guy's Hospital in London on 1st January 1916. His former battery, now commanded by Captain Henry Lowry-Corry, sailed for France without him on 8th September.

He rejoined the Colours and received his Commission as a Temporary Lieutenant on 29th November 1914. Promotion quickly followed and took effect from February 1915. As Captain Gribbell, he was appointed to command "A" Battery, 94th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery which, at that time, was still in England. Owing to ill-health the Captain relinquished his command in August 1915. He was initially hospitalised in Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot followed by a spell in the Lady Dudley's Hospital, Brighton before being taken to Guy's Hospital in London on 1st January 1916. His former battery, now commanded by Captain Henry Lowry-Corry, sailed for France without him on 8th September.
The entry on the civilian cross marking his grave states: [died] ‘from wounds received in the Great War.’ This poses a quandary as the evidence from the War Office Medal Rolls indicates he did not enter a theatre of war on duty overseas in the First World War. The record in Officers Died in the Great War shows he ‘died’, a term usually reserved for death from disease or injuries caused other than as a result of enemy action. There are however other possible explanations for this dilemma. The official records may be in error. He may have been injured whilst training in this country and died as a result. He could have been in action as part of the garrison forces retained in Britain to defend against possible invasion. On several occasions German ships bombarded coastal towns and were engaged by our artillery. Several servicemen were killed and injured in these exchanges of fire. Sections of the Royal Artillery were deployed on anti-aircraft work. No doubt some of their personnel lost their lives due to odd enemy bomb hits and their own shell fragments falling back to earth. It is however just as possible that he died of natural causes, even if these were exacerbated by military service.
Whatever the exact cause of Arthur Frank Gribbell's death, the fact remains that he served his country at a time of crisis and paid for his patriotism with his life.

Arthur Gribbell

Arthur Gribbell's grave in Ringmer Churchyard

 
 
Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993