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Clifford Staves Gomersall

Clifford GomersallDriver Clifford S. Gomersall, T/73407, No. 2, Casualty Clearing Station, Royal Army Service Corps.

Clifford S. Gomersall was born in 1917, the son of William Gomersall and Ada Green, who married at South Ossett Christ Church on the 1st May 1897. In 1911, Ada was living at 4 Ward’s Yard, Dale Street, Ossett with her five surviving Ossett born children from six who had been born in the marriage, but her husband William Gomersall’s name appears on the household record, showing he had "no occupation", and his name was subsequently crossed out.

Instead, in 1911, William Gomersall, aged 41 years, was at the Home for the Blind, 'Hayesleigh', Montague Road, Old Trafford, Manchester, where he was an "inmate" who became "totally blind at 35 years." It is not known whether William was still in the Home for the Blind at the time that Clifford was born in 1917, but Clifford Gomersall’s middle name was Staves.

William Gomersall died in Wakefield in early 1934 and his widow, Ada subsequently married Walter Staves, of Ossett, in late 1936. In 1939, Ada and Walter, who was working as a passenger guard for the L.N.E.R. railway, were living in Bradford with Ada’s daughter, Elizabeth, from her first marriage.

In the summer of 1939, Clifford married Annie E. Smith in the Bradford area. The couple appear not to have had any children. Ada Staves formerly Gomersall (nee Green) died on the 16th December 1941, aged 66 years, at 17 Clyde Terrace, Wakefield Road, Bradford. She was buried at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 19th December 1941.

The "Ossett Observer" carried a short obituary for Driver Clifford Gomersall:1

"Ossett Soldier Reported Killed - Missing At Dunkirk - About a year ago the wife of Driver Clifford Gomersall, R.A.M.C., of 17, Clyde Terrace, Bradford, received an intimation that he was missing and all efforts to trace him have failed. He is now reported to have been killed in action in Dunkirk on June 1st or 2nd 1940.

Driver Gomersall, who was 24 years of age, was a native of Ossett, and was educated at Southdale Council School. He obtained employment with Poulters, the Bradford wholesale firm, and joined up about three months before war was declared. He went to France with the British Expeditionary Force, and was stationed at Lille. He was in the retreat to Dunkirk and was seen by one of his mates getting on to a boat, but has not been heard of since. He was married in August 1939, and there were no children. He was of commanding presence, standing 6 feet 2 inches, and was very popular with his comrades.

He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Staves, formerly of Westwood Road, Queens Drive, Ossett, and before that at 2, The Green. He was known locally as a swimmer. His only brother, William, is stationed in Egypt."

Clifford Gomersall died on the 2nd June 1940, aged 24 years, during the Dunkirk evacuation, and remembered on Column 136 of the Dunkirk Memorial. The Dunkirk Memorial stands at the entrance to the British War Graves Section of Dunkirk Town Cemetery, which lies at the south-eastern corner of the town of Dunkirk, immediately south of the canal and on the road to Veurne (Furnes) in Belgium.

During the Second World War, Dunkirk was the scene of the historic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France in May 1940. The Dunkirk Memorial stands a the entrance to the Commonwealth War Graves section of Dunkirk Town Cemetery. It commemorates more than 4,500 casualties of the British Expeditionary Force who died in the campaign of 1939-40 or who died in captivity who were captured during this campaign and who have no known grave.2

Dunkirk Evacuation 1940

Above: The Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 with British troops climbing on to small boats from England.

References:

1. "Ossett Observer", Saturday, 14th February 1942.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site