On this day in 1914, Lieutenant Gerald Sclater Ingram fell in action. At this early stage of the conflict, it was still felt by many people back in Britain that the war would be over by Christmas. Already though, Britain's regular army was sustaining heavy losses and Gerald Ingram bears the unhappy distinction of being Chailey's first fatal casualty. This is his story.
He was born on 24th July 1890 at South Kensington, London; the only son of William R Ingram (born c 1857) and Beatrice Eleanor Ingram, the daughter of Major Edmund Crofts, Royal Welch Fusiliers. William Ingram appears on the 1881 census as a 24 year old stockbroker although he is noted elsewhere as a sculptor. He was also the grandson of James Ingram of Ades, Chailey and the nephew of John Ingham Blencowe (who had married one of James Ingram’s seven daughters: Mabel F Ingram).
Gerald appears on the 1891 census as an eight month old baby living at 25 Wilton Place, Knightsbridge. His relationship to the head of the household is noted as “Son” but the only other people present there when the census was taken were servants: a cook, parlourmaid, nurse and housemaid. Ten years later, the 1901 census notes that he is a pupil at Pemberton Lodge, Southbourne, Hampshire. Later, Gerald would continue his education at Winchester College (1904 to 1909) and Christ Church College, Oxford (1910).
On 16th July 1912, in The London Gazette, his name appeared in an unattached list for the Territorial Force which noted that he was to be Second Lieutenant. In the Gazette edition of 6th February 1914, under The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment”, the following information appears:
Second Lieutenant Gerald Sclater Ingram, from the Unattached List Territorial Force (University Candidate), to be Second Lieutenant. Dated 3rd September 1912, but not to carry pay or allowances prior to 7th February 1914.
When war was declared, Gerald went to France with A Company, the 2nd Queen’s. He was promoted lieutenant in September 1914 and was killed in action at Zonnebeke on 21st October that year, the same day that Lieutenant E W Bethell from C Company was also killed.
On 4th November, The Times published a notification of his death as follows:
LIEUTENANT GERALD SCLATER INGRAM, 2nd Queen’s Regiment, who was killed near Ypres on October 21 was the only child of Mrs William Ingram of 77 Eccleston Square, SW. He was born in July, 1890, and was educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford. He was gazetted to a second lieutenancy in his regiment in February last, and was promoted last month.
Gerald has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. Although his name is inscribed on Chailey’s war memorial his connection with the village appears to be by association (through the Ingram and Blencowe families) and he does not feature at all in Chailey’s Parish Magazine. At the time of his death, his widowed mother was living at 77 Eccleston Square, London SW.