Edmund Gay

Captain Edmund Gay

Edmund GayEdmund GayEdmund was the only son of the late Edward Gay, of Oxford. He was born in 1883, came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1891 and left in 1897. We remember Edmund as a tall, thin, pale, bright-smiling boy, not very fond of school work, but a tremendous slogger at cricket. His five fours, a three, and a two, made in a few minutes v. Cothill, are historic. He was also a very fine neat field. He acted Malcolm in Macbeth in 1897 and gained the School Divinity prize. He went to Mr. Hawkins’s House, Winchester, in September 1897, and thence to New College. He won the Lightweights at the Novices’ Boxing Competition at the O.U.B. & F.C. 1901.

From Oxford he went to Ceylon in 1903 to plant tea and returned home in 1908, as his health would not stand the climate, subsequently taking up farming in Norfolk. He was present at our Old Boys’ dinner in 1911, and took six wickets and made a large score for Old Day-boys v. Old Boarders. He was married at SS. Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, to Margaret Esson, the sister of two old boys.

In August 1914 he got a commission in the 5th Norfolk Regiment, and was promoted to Lieutenant and then to Captain in 1915. It was in Gallipoli that he met his end on the 12th August 1915.

Sir Ian Hamilton’s dispatch contains an account of the Anafarta fight for Teke Tepe:

‘In the course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd Brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing. The 1/5th Norfolks were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the Brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the Battalion. The fighting grew hotter and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel with 10 officers and 25o men kept pushing on, driving the enemy before him. . . Nothing more was ever seen or heard of them. They charged into the forest, and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back.’

Captain Edmund Gay was one of this ‘Lost Legion’. For a long time hopes were entertained that he might have survived, but discoveries since the Armistice seem to leave no doubt that the 1/5th Norfolks perished to a man in their gallant enterprise. A later official account states that what were almost certainly the remains of the officers and men of the 5th Norfolks were found scattered over an area of about a square mile, at an average distance of 800 yards in rear of the Turkish front line, and were lying most thick round the ruins of a small farm; 180 bodies were found, 122 of which were identified by shoulder-titles as belonging to the 5th Norfolks. The bodies of three officers of the Norfolks were found, but it was impossible to identify them. Private information supplies the fact that Edmund was last seen getting over a fence or wall into the farm with a sergeant and another man. The man who last saw him was wounded, and lay out all night beside the body of another 1/5th Norfolk soldier, and managed to crawl into our lines next day.

It is a tragic but noble story of a dear Old Dragon who carried his country’s arms right into the heart of the foe.

Edmund is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey.

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