Poppy Herbert John GEE (1877–1918) Poppy

Herbert John Gee
Photograph of Herbert John Gee, taken in Egypt. Reproduced
by kind permission of John Meyers, Founder and Curator of
the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, Australia

Herbert John Gee was born in Oxford on 2 June 1877, the son of William Henry Gee (born in Egrove in Kennington, Berkshire in 1844) and Elizabeth Sophia Plummer Allnutt (born in St Giles-in-the-Fields, London in 1844).

At the time of their marriage at Ss Philip & James's Church, Oxford on 16 July 1870 Herbert's father was a bookseller in Oxford's High Street, and his mother lived at Percy Villa, The Parks. They had seven children:

  • William Henry Gee (born in Oxford on 17 April 1871 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 14 May 1871)
  • Charles Frank Allnutt Gee (born in Oxford on 25 April 1873 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 25 May 1873)
  • Lizzie Gee (born in Oxford on 27 May 1874, privately baptised on 6 June 1874)
  • Alice Mary Allnutt Gee (born in Oxford on 17 January 1876 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 13 February 1876)
  • Herbert John Gee (born in Oxford on 2 June 1877 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 27 June 1877)
  • Ernest Richard Gee (born in Oxford on 15 April 1878 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 13 May 1878)
  • Frederick Scaife Gee (born in Oxford in 1879 and baptised at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 12 June 1879).

At the time of the 1871 census, just before the birth of their eldest child, Herbert's parents plus their house servant were living at Beef Lane in St Aldate’s. His father, a bookseller, employed a porter and one apprentice, and directories show that he then sold secondhand books at 28 High Street, Oxford. By May of that year when their first son was baptised, that was also given as their address, and they lived over the shop until the end of 1879, when they moved to 4 The Terrace (now 53 Park Town).

Herbert’s father William Henry Gee continued to run his shop at 28 High Street, which now sold new as well as secondhand books; but its days were numbered, as it was in the row that had to be demolished in the mid-1880s to make way for the extension of Brasenose College into the High. By 1889 Herbert’s father had moved his shop across the road to 127 High Street, and the following year the family moved from Park Town to their first address in Southmoor Road, No. 35. Herbert entered the City of Oxford High School for Boys in George Street in January 1891; his older brother Frederick and younger brother William also attended the school.

At the time of the 1891 census Herbert (13) was at home with his mother and five of his siblings at 35 Southmoor Road. His father was staying at a hotel in Somerset with his son William junior (19).

Herbert left the Boys' High School after only eighteen months in 1892, and was apprenticed to W. F. Lucas & Co. in 1893.

His father William Henry Gee’s bookshop at 127 High Street closed down in about 1894.

In 1898 Herbert joined the 15th The King's Hussars, and was probably abroad on census night in 1901. His family was still at 35 Southmoor Road, and his father now described himself as a political agent (for the Conservative party).

Herbert retired from the army as a sergeant in 1910, and became a commercial traveller.

By the time of the 1911 census Herbert's parents had moved to 3 Southmoor Road in St Margaret’s parish, a large house with eleven rooms, and had one servant. Herbert's father was at home on census night with three of his seven children, namely Lizzie (36), Alice (35), and Frederick (31), who was a butler; and an architect (24-year-old John Allnutt Howell, who was probably a relation) was boarding with them. Herbert's mother was paying a visit to her son Ernest Richard Gee, an assistant bookseller, and his wife Bertha at their home in New Malden, Surrey. Herbert himself, who was now 33, was a commercial traveller selling typewriter accessories and was living at 50 Fairmount Road, Brixton Hill, London with his married brother Charles, who worked in a bookshop.

About a month after the census, on 4 May 1911, Herbert John Gee emigrated to Australia: passenger lists show an H. Gee (an adult single male, occupation “Traveller”) sailing that day with the White Star Line on the Medic from Liverpool to Sydney. He took up farming at East Barron Atherton, Queensland.

Gee and his ship
Herbert John Gee at Pinkenba, Brisbane prior to boarding
HMAT A30  Borda (reproduced by kind permission of John Meyers)

Poppy In the First World War Herbert John Gee (37) enlisted on 29 December 1914 in the 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), “B” Squadron.

He was appointed Second Lieutenant on 1 April 1915, and embarked from Brisbane for the Middle East with his squadron on board HMAT A30 Borda on 16 June 1915.

He was in Egypt from July 1915 and then Gallipoli from August 1915, where he was wounded on 3 September. His photograph appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated on 22 September 1915. He was wounded again on 3 November 1915.

From December 1915 he was involved in operations in Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine.

He was mentioned twice in despatches, and won the Military Cross on 28 December 1917 and Bar in April 1917.

Herbert's mother Mrs Elizabeth Sophia Plummer Gee died in Oxford near the beginning of 1917 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery on 12 February.

By 1918 Herbert John Gee was a Captain and fighting in Palestine. He and his men entered the railway station buildings in Semakh (a small town on the southern shore of Lake Tiberias) armed with bayonets, and destroyed or captured the whole German force (which as well as being armed with machine-guns and grenades was much larger than the Australian one).

He was killed in this action at the age of 40 on 25 September 1918 and is buried in the Haifa War Cemetery (B.62).

Semakh station
Semakh Station in Palestine, where Herbert Gee died (reproduced by kind permission of John Meyers)

Gee's medals
Medals awarded to Herbert Gee (reproduced by kind permission of John Meyers)
Left to right: (1) Military Cross; (2) 1914–15 Star; (3) British War Medal; (4) Victory Medal
The oak leaf on the Victory Medal indicates that the recipient was mentioned in Despatches

Herbert Gee on Boys' High School war memorial

Gee is remembered is remembered on a plaque in the Old Boys’ High School, George Street (left); on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford; and on the memorial in Brisbane, Australia.

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Herbert’s father
  • William Henry Gee remained at 3 Southmoor Road until around the end of the war. He died at 45 Chalfont Road at the age of 82 on 28 January 1927 and was buried with his wife at Wolvercote Cemetery on 31 January. His effects came to £264 7s. 5d., and his unmarried daughters Lizzie Gee and Alice Mary Allnutt Gee, who lived there with him, were his executors.
Herbert’s siblings
  • William Henry Gee junior (born 1871) was matriculated at the University of Oxford by Merton College in 1889. He was staying with his father at a hotel in Somerset in 1891, described as a student. He was awarded his M.A. in 1898. In 1901 he was a schoolmaster at Penfillan House School, Folkestone. He emigrated to Canada in 1914, but came back to Europe to fight with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He became a prisoner of war, and survived.
  • Charles Frank Allnutt Gee (born 1873) married Emily Rose Dunn in the Lambeth district in 1905. At the time of the 1911 census Charles (37) was a bookshop assistant, living at 50 Fairmount Road, Brixton Hill with his wife Emily (35), his mother-in-law, and his brother Herbert. He enlisted in the Royal Navy on 14 August 1918, and served on HMS Victory until 26 February 1919. Charles died in Oxford at the age of 71 in 1944 and was buried at Wolvercote with his parents on 31 July. .
  • Lizzie Gee (born 1874) was living with her father at 3 Southmoor Road in 1915 and working from home as the local secretary of the Benevolent & Orphan Fund of the National Union of Teachers. She had moved to 45 Chalfont Road with her father and sister by 1927, and died there at the age of 82 on 28 September 1956.
  • Alice Mary Allnutt Gee (born 1876) lived with her sister Lizzie at 45 Chalfont Road, and died there at the age of 78 on 24 January 1954.
  • Ernest Richard Gee (born 1878) was aged 22 in 1901 and lodging at 5 Page Street, Westminster, working as an assistant to a maker of chronometers. He married Bertha Ellen Hook in 1908. In 1911 he was living with Bertha at Wearn, King's Avenue, New Maldon, Surrey, and working as a bookseller's assistant. They emigrated to New York on 30 August 1914. He opened his own shop in New York, dealing in rare sports books.
  • Frederick Scaife Gee (born 1879) was matriculated as a non-collegiate student at the University of Oxford in 1903 and served in the Officers Training Corps. He was awarded his M.A. in 1910. On 13 July 1914 at Summertown Church he married Dorothy Annis: he was still living at 3 Southmoor Road and was described as the butler of Wadham College, and she lived at The Bungalow, Lucerne Road (photograph of wedding in Oxford Journal Illustrated of 19 August 1914). They do not appear to have had any children. They had moved to 38 Chalfont Road by 1915. On 1 May 1917 he commenced war service, and was a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps in East Africa from 1918 to 1919. He had his wife were still at 38 Chalfont Road in 1936, but had moved to 34 Frenchay Road by 1947. Frederick was still at that address when he died in the Radcliffe Infirmary on 4 September 1949.

See also

Please email if you would like to add any material to this page

Book about the men on this war memorial still on sale: 47 Men of North Oxford

Back to St Margaret’s War Memorial home page