Gerald Lucien Grimsdell

Rank Captain
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 27/08/1918
Age 29
Regiment/Service South Lancashire Regiment 8th Battalion
Cemetery Islington Cemetery and Crematorium, East Finchley


Gerald was born in Finchley on 9th April 1889 to Henry William (1848-1921), and Lucy Marian, nee Bryer (b.1851). He was baptised on 5th May in Addlestone, Surrey. He had five brothers; Henry (b.1876), Ernest (b.1878), Reginald (1880-1916), Walter (1883-1978) and Roland (b.1885).

From 1903 to 1906 Gerald studied engineering at King’s College, London, where he was a member of the Officers' Training Corps for 1.5 years. At the time of the 1911 Census, he was staying as a visitor at Ashwater, Beaworthy, Devon. His occupation is listed as ‘engineering student’. The 1912 Electoral Register records his residence as Park House, Holly Park, Crouch Hill, London, the family home. Before the war, he worked as an electrical engineer.

Gerald applied for a commission on 18th August 1914, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant on 19th September 1914. He travelled with his regiment for service in France and Flanders in September 1915. It was during July 1916, at the Battle of The Somme, that he was awarded the Military Cross, possibly in action to the south of Thiepval: "for conspicuous gallantry during operations. He organised and led a bombing attack against a strong enemy position, took it, and held it against two counter-attacks while the position was being consolidated."

On 28th August 1916, and following his promotion to Captain, Gerald was wounded in action while in the Leipzig salient, near Thiepval. He was hit by shell fragments in a trench, sustaining wounds to his abdomen and right arm (‘fingers much impaired’). On 31st August he embarked for England from Boulogne and arrived at Southampton on 1st September. He was in the London Hospital until 1st November and granted sick leave from then until 17th March 1917. At the end of his leave, he proceeded to his depot for treatment and Light Duty. In a letter dated 8th April 1917, he wrote from Cowlarns Camp, Barrow-in-Furness, to the Adjutant 3rd Battalion South Lancs. Regiment, saying, ‘I was sent to England and admitted to the London Hospital. The nerve in my right arm has been deadened, the result of my wound, thereby rendering my arm practically useless’. A Medical Board considered his case on 25th April 1917 and concluded that, ‘there is wasting of muscles of the forearm and the hand is wasted and cold. Not fit of general service, home service or light duty at home’.

A further Medical Board took place on 25th September 1917 and its report stated, ‘right wasting of the right hand, especially of the adductors of the thumb – had 12 months electric therapeutic and massage treatment. There has been very little improvement during the last two months. He has been under treatment at this command depot for five months. It is not possible to say how his recovery will proceed but in any case it will be very protracted’. It lists that the injury was ‘severe in the first instance’ and ‘the effects are still very severe’. Gerald relinquished his commission on 15th November 1917, ‘on account of ill health caused by wounds received in action’, and was awarded a pension of £50 a year.

On 18th December 1917 Gerald married Maud Lucy Margaret Dixie (b.1896) at Christ Church, Paddington. His address was listed as 39 Lancaster Gate, London, and hers was 45 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth. On 19th February 1918, he wrote to the War Office saying that he wanted an increase in his pension of £50: ‘I think this amount is totally inadequate for the loss of use of my right hand, seeing that my earning power in my profession as an engineer is decreased out of all proportion and also my chances of obtaining better posts is enormously decreased”. The War Office response in a letter of 4th March 1918 stated that when the Medical Board examined him on 5th December 1917, it did not regard his disability as equivalent to the loss of a limb.

Struggling for his health through a long period of recovery, Gerald succumbed to complications associated with his wounds on 28th July 1918. He died at his home, 1 Waverley Grove, Finchley, of croupous pneumonia, and was buried locally in Islington Cemetery. His estate was valued at £2,248 15s, which he left to his widow.

His older brother Reginald was killed in action on the Western Front on 25th September 1916, and is also remembered on the St Paul’s memorial. 

It is clear that the Grimsdell’s were a ‘Finchley family’. At the time of Gerald’s death, his father was living at Mount View, Dollis Avenue. His brother, Ernest, resided at Grassmere, Windermere Avenue, when his 2 month old son, and Gerald’s nephew, Richard Lucien, was baptised in St Luke’s Finchley on 23rd November 1913.