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Remembered Today:

Notable Persons who served as a Gunner in WW1




I came across a series of postings by Pete Hill posted way back in June 2009 outlining Notable Persons who served in WW1. A fascinating piece of research and I became interested in those who served as Gunners. 


Having enjoyed the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, read Dennis Wheatley's books, and admired the illustrations of Winnie the Pooh drawn by Ernest Sheppard, it was pleasing to find they all served as Gunners. I have admired the exploits of George Mallory and his attempts on Everest, and find he was also a Gunner. An interest in the Titanic, visiting London, Belfast and New York, resulted in seeing an iconic photo of a young  newspaper seller in London reporting the sinking of the Titanic. The boy  was Ned Parffett who would go on to win the Military Medal and loose his life serving with the Royal Field Artillery.


Many thanks for additional contributions from  Guest  rflory , SapperBooAlan24


So which notable persons served as Gunners during the First World War ?


Notable Persons who served as a Gunner in WW1

Here are those identified to date:  15 April 2021



Allan Brooke DSO - [WW2 CIGS / Military advisor to Churchill]

Edmund Herring DSO MC - [WW2 General]

Andrew McNaughton DSO - [WW2 General]

Keith Park MC* DFC - [WW2 General]

Cambpell Christie MC - [WW2 General & Agatha Christie's Brother in Law]

Colin Gubbins MC - [WW2 General and founder of SOE]



Gwilym Lloyd George - [WW1 Prime Minister Lloyd George son]

Norman Manley MM - [First Prime minister of Jamaica]



George Mallory - [Everest Explorer]



Ernest Sheppard MC - [Illustrator of Winnie the Pooh]

Dennis Wheatley - [Author]

Ralph Vaughan Williams - [Composer]

Wyndham Lewis - [Artist]

Colin Gill - [Artist]

Gilbert Ledward - [Sculptor]

Leon Underwood - [Sculptor / Artist]

Bud Flanagan - [Entertainer] served as Robert Weintrop

Henry Hall - [Band Leader]

Robert Nichols - [Writer]

Edward Thomas - [Poet]



Maurice Bowra - [Academic / Literary Critic]

Lionel Robbins - [Economist]



Lawrence Bragg MC - [Physicist]



Ned Parfett - [Newsboy announcing sinking of Titanic]

Tom Barry - [Guerrilla leader during Irish Civil War]

Basil Catterns - [Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929 - 1934]




  • Allan Brooke DSO* 

Chief of Imperial General Staff 1941-46 and the top military advisor to Churchill.

During WW1, Brooke served on the Western Front as a Colonel in the Royal Field Artillery and awarded the  a DSO and a Bar
Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke - Wikipedia




  • Edmund Herring DSO MC

Commander of the 6th Australian Division during the campaigns against the Italians and Germans in North Africa and Greece 1940-41 and he later commanded Australian Forces  during the  Battle for Kokoda, New Guinea Campaign.
During WW1, Herring served with the Royal Field Artillery in Mesopotamia and awarded the Military Cross

Edmund Herring - Wikipedia




  • Andrew McNaughton DSO

Commander of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Involved with the planning and staging of the Dieppe Raid in 1942, he received much of the criticism and blame for its disastrous outcome.
During WW1, McNaughton served with the Canadian Artillery and would ultimately command the Canadian Corps Artillery. He was awarded a DSO

Andrew McNaughton - Wikipedia


See the source image


  • Keith Park MC* DFC

Air Vice-Marshall Sir Keith Park (New Zealand) - Commander of RAF Fighter Command's No 11 Group, the most heavily engaged Group during the Battle of Britain July-October 1940 and later commanded the air defences on Malta.

During WW1, Park commanded a New Zealand Artillery Battery in Gallipoli and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he served with distinction. He was awarded the Military Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross

Keith Park - Wikipedia




  • Campbell Christie MC

Thanks to rflory

Campbell Christie was the brother in law of author Agatha Christie. A career soldier commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1913, he would rise to the rank of Major General commanding Anti-Aircraft Defences, Malta during WW2. After retirement he and his wife, Dorothy, wrote plays for the London stage including Grand National Night and Carrington, VC


During WW1, he deployed to France in February 1915 with 10 Siege Battery RGA , served in Salonika with 5 Mountain Battery RGA, attained the rank of acting Major and was awarded the Military Cross.




  • Colin Gubbins

Thanks to GuestGust

Major General Colin Gubbins was an exponent of irregular warfare who founded the Home Defence Auxiliaries and was Director of SOE during World War Two. He developed his interest in guerrilla warfare ass a result of serving as an intelligence officer during the Anglo-Irish War. He commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery as a Regular Officer in September 1914.


During WW1, he served with 126 Battery RFA, was wounded, awarded the MC and attained the rank of acting Major. He would also serve in the North Russia Campaign in 1919 as an ADC.

Colin Gubbins - Wikipedia





  • Gwilym Lloyd George

Welsh politician and cabinet minister. The younger son of David Lloyd George, he served as Home Secretary from 1954 to 1957.

Served in House of Lords 1957 to 1967 as 1st Viscount Tenby
During WW1, Lloyd-George transferred from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers to serve in the Royal Garrison Artillery on the Western Front

Gwilym Lloyd George - Wikipedia




  • Norman Manley MM

First Prime Minister of the newly independent Jamaica from  1959-62 

During WW1, Manley served with the Royal Field Artillery on the Western front and awarded the Military Medal

Norman Manley - Wikipedia





  • George Mallory

Mountaineer who made three attempts to climb Mount Everest in the early 1920s.During the 1924 Expedition , Mallory and his climbing partner Sandy Irvine disappeared on the northeast ridge of Everest.  It is not known for certain if the pair reached the summit of Everest.  

During WW1, Mallory commissioned into the Royal Garrison  Artillery and served on the Western Front.

George Mallory's brother Trafford Leigh Mallory became C in C of Fighter Command during World War Two. 
George Mallory - Wikipedia





  • Ernest Sheppard MC

Artist and Book Illustrator, best-known for his illustrations for the original editions of Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows.
During WW1, Shepard commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery serving on the Western Front and awarded the Military Cross

E. H. Shepard - Wikipedia




  • Dennis Wheatley

Popular author of adventure, thriller and occult/horror novels, who wrote over 75 books between 1933 and 1980. 
During WW1, Wheatley commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery, served on the Western Front and was invalided out of the Army

Dennis Wheatley - Wikipedia




  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

Composer of symphonies, opera & chamber music, choral pieces & hymns from the early 1900s through to the 1950s.

During WW1, Williams enlisted as a soldier in the RAMC, transferring to the Royal Garrison Artillery on commissioning, and served on the Western Front

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Wikipedia




  • Wyndham Lewis

Painter, Novelist, Critic & Writer
During WW1, Lewis was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery serving on the Western Front

Wyndham Lewis - Wikipedia




  • Colin Gill

Colin Unwin Gill was an English artist who painted murals and portraits and is notable for the work he produced as a war artist.

During WW1, Colin Gill commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery serving in 17th Heavy Battery. His artistic talents would be used when he was seconded to the Royal Engineers as a  camouflage officer.  In March 1918 he was invalided with gas poisoning in March 1918. He was released from his duties at the Camouflage School and returned to France on 7 November 1918 to do sketches, and other work, for his BWMC commission. 

 Colin Gill - Wikipedia




  • Leon Underwood

Leon Underwood was a British sculptor, print maker and painter.

During WW1, he enlisted as a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards before commissioning into 2nd London Brigade RFA in June 1915.  In May 1916 he was seconded to Special Works Park Royal Engineers to create battlefield observation posts disguised as trees

Leon Underwood - Wikipedia




  • Gilbert Ledward

Gilbert Ledward was a sculptor who would contributed to many post war memorials.

During WW1, he commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1916 serving in Italy and being Mentioned In Despatches. In April 1918 he was seconded to the Ministry of Information as a war artist.

Gilbert Ledward - Wikipedia




  • Bud Flanagan (served as Robert Weintrop)

Thanks to Guest Guest

Bud Flanagan was a popular British music hall entertainer and comedian. His real name was Reuben Weintrop, and at 14 he had left home to travel the world. At the beginning of the First World War he was in the USA and returned home to enlist in the Royal Field Artillery under the name Robert Weintrop. During the war he met Chesney Allen with whom he would form a double act post war. Weintrop adopted the name Flanagan reputedly  the name of a disliked Sergeant-Major he served with.

During WW1, he served on the Western Front as a Driver in a Divisional Ammunition Column arriving in Theatre May 1916 serving till the end of the war.

Bud Flanagan - Wikipedia




  • Henry Hall

Thanks to Guest

Henry Hall was an English band leader over a period of 40 years regularly performing on BBC Radio.

During WW1, he was called up to serve with the Royal Field Artillery in December 1916. After basic training at Woolwich and Brighton, he transferred the Royal Garrison Artillery. He served at Number 1Cadet Training School RGA playing in concert parties.

Henry Hall (bandleader) - Wikipedia




  • Robert Nichols

Robert Nichols was an English writer, known as a war poet of the First World War, and a playwright.

During WW1, he commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in October 1914. Nichols served on the Western Front seeing participating in the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme. He was invalided home August 1916 and awarded a Sliver War Badge

Robert Nichols (poet) - Wikipedia



  • Edward Thomas

Philip Edward Thomas was a British poet, essayist, and novelist.

During WW1, he enlisted into the Artist Rifles July 1915 aged 37, rising to the rank of corporal. He commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in November 1916. He joined 244 Siege Battery in 1917 and was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras, 9th April. Edward Thomas was standing next to the Beaurains Observation Post when a shell exploded nearby killing him.

Edward Thomas is buried in Agny Military Cemetery, south of Arras.  The inscription on his headstone simple reads POET. He is commemorated in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Edward Thomas (poet) - Wikipedia







  • Maurice Bowra

Thanks to Guest

Maurice Bowra was an English classical scholar, literary critic and academic, being a warden at Oxford University 1938 to 1970.

During WW1, he was commissioned from an Officer Cadet Unit into the Royal Field Artillery July 1017 serving on the Western Front

Maurice Bowra - Wikipedia




  • Lionel Robbins

Thanks to Guest

Lionel Robbins was a British economist  prominent as an academic at the London School of Economics and served in the War Office during WW2 attending the Bretton Woods Conference. His published work includes  The Economic Causes of War.  During the early 60's he was chair of a commission on higher education.
During WW1, he joined the Officer Training Corps commissioning into the Royal Field Artillery in August 1916. He deployed to France in 1917 serving till Spring 1918 when he sent home after being wounded.

Lionel Robbins - Wikipedia





  • Lawrence Bragg

 Thanks to SapperBoo

Lawrence Bragg was a Nobel Prize winning scientist, the youngest ever aged 22 ,being recognised as a joint winner with his father in 1915.
During WW1, Bragg developed sound ranging methods for locating enemy guns. Commissioned into the Leicester Royal Horse Artillery  in July 1915, he was quickly employed developing sound ranging, and would transfer to the Royal Engineers on special employment. He rose to the rank of acting major being awarded the OBE and MC for his work.

Lawrence Bragg - Wikipedia






  • Ned Parfett MM

Newsboy & subject of a very famous, iconic photograph holding the headline banner announcing the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 
During WW1, Parfett enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery serving on the Western Front and awarded the Military Medal. Ned Parfett was killed by an enemy shell on 29th October 1918 and is buried in the British War Cemetery at Verchain - Maugre in France.

Edward John “Ned” Parfett (1896-1918) - Find A Grave Memorial


Great War Forum:  Famous Titanic Photo: newsvendor Ned Parfett kia 1918 - Soldiers and their units - Great War Forum



Service Number: 128981
Regiment & Unit/Ship

Royal Field Artillery

126th Bty. 29th Bde.

Date of Death

Died 29 October 1918

Age 22 years old

Buried or commemorated at


D. 9.



                                                                                                                                                                Source: @domwalsh

  • Tom Barry

Thanks to Guest


Tom Barry was a was a prominent guerrilla leader in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Irish War of Independence (Anglo-Irish War 1919 to 1921)

During WW1, he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery in June 1915 and sent to Athlone for basic training. He was posted to the Middle East in January 191g serving in Mesopotamia (including Kut relief force), Palestine and Egypt. He returned to Ireland in 1919 when he was discharged from the British Army.

Tom Barry (Irish republican) - Wikipedia




  • Basil Cattens

Thanks to Alan24

Basil Catterns was Chief Cashier of the Bank of England from  1929 to  1934  and his signature appeared on all bank notes issued during that period.

During WW Basil Catterns served as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and was severely wounded in the legs in 1917. He was placed on the retired list in July 1919 as a result of his wounds and returned to his pre-war career at the Bank Of England

Basil G. Catterns - Wikipedia







Recommended Comments

Interesting, particularly Ned Parfett, seen the Titanic photo but never knew the history thereafter. 

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If we may add a few more -if only to translate the gunner's  motto "Ubique" to mean "Odds and Sods from All Over"   I have avoided some of the more obvious service ones.




   Tom Barry-  Irish guerilla leader of the Civil War




     Maurice Bowra- literary crit. man at Oxford-  I leave the quote attributed to him to show that he was-perhaps- not an obvious military careerist.  It looks like he and Wyndham Lewis had the same same supplier of fag butts.




     Bud Flanagan





     Major-General Sir Colin Gubbins- fully tooled up and,on this occasion, probably not trying not to set an example to the SOE he led about how to be inconspicuous in enemy territory




     Henry Hall-  the popular radio bandleader.




     Lionel Robbins, Lord Robbins-the economist and the brains behind the Robbins Report which so transformed higher education from the 1960s- I met him several times while a student at LSE- he was a large man but always carried himself with a military bearing.



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Major General Campbell Manning Christie, MC, RA


During the Great War was a Lieutenant, 5th Mountain Battery, RGA

Military Cross - London Gazette 1 Jan 19

From 12 Dec 42 to 23 May 44 was a Major General and General Officer Commanding, Anti-Aircraft Defenses, Malta

After retirement he and his wife, Dorothy, wrote plays for the London stage including Grand National Night and Carrington, VC


low res Christie.jpg

Edited by rflory
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Many thanks for the additional contributions.


A quick look at Wikipedia reveals a number of interesting stories. Tom Barry joining the IRA after service in the British Army.  Bud Flanagan returning from the US to enlist. Henry Hall being able to use his musical talents during WW1. Lionel Robbins wounded by a sniper.


One wonders if Bowra's quote is a facetious remark or autobiographical.


Gubbin's medal group is interesting, highlighting his extensive military careers. The other awards dotted around his uniform makes him look like a North Korean general.



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Glad to help- I think it's the tip of the iceberg.  Bowra-definitely autobiographical.  

   It was noticeable in my lifetime re gunners of the Second World War- folk such as Spike Milligan, Robin Day Frankie Howerd and Geoffrey Howe.  Being an admin. personnel officer at a higher level of the Royal Artillery in both world wars must have been a hoot. 

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12 minutes ago, rflory said:

Major General Campbell Manning Christie, MC, RA




Having recently read about the part Malta played during WW2 in  the Mediterranean Campaign and in the invasion of Sicily, one can appreciate Christies contribution.


Many thanks for highlighting him.



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Ian: Forgot to mention that Maj. Gen. Christie was also the brother-in-law of Agatha Christie.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr


Small point, but at the time of his RA service, Gwilym Lloyd George didn't have a hyphenated surname.

That came later in life.

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42 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Small point, but at the time of his RA service, Gwilym Lloyd George didn't have a hyphenated surname.

That came later in life.


Dai Bach y Sowldiwr


Many thanks. Checked the London Gazette entries and indeed Gwilym is not hyphenated. 


Blog updated.





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Sir William Lawrence Bragg, CH, OBE, MC, FRS


"Bragg was commissioned early in World War I in the Royal Horse Artillery as a second lieutenant of the Leicestershire battery. In 1915 he was seconded to the Royal Engineers to develop a method to localise enemy artillery from the boom of their firing.  On 2 September 1915 his brother was killed during the Gallipoli Campaign. Shortly afterwards, he and his father were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was 25 years old and remains the youngest science laureate."

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Posted (edited)



Thanks for highlighting Lawrence Bragg.


The ability to find the enemy guns in order to prevent casualties to ones owns troops and prevent the them trying to shape the battle is one of the key functions of artillery through counter battery fires.  It was late in my service that I fully appreciated the contribution of sound ranging, so learning about Lawrence Bragg is very interesting. 





Edited by ianjonesncl
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Colin Gill - [Artist]

Gilbert Ledward - [Sculptor]

Leon Underwood - [Sculptor / Artist]

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Posted (edited)

Basil Gage Catterns

Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929-1934

His signature appeared on the bank notes between the dates above.

Served as a 2Lt. with the RFA and was severely wounded in the legs in 1917.


His successor also served in the great war, winning the MC and Bar, but not Artillery. 

Edited by Alan24
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40 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

Basil Gage Catterns Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929-1934 His signature appeared on the bank notes between the dates above.



A very interesting one - a name that would have been seen by millions.


Thanks for highlighting him.




See the source image

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57 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

Basil Gage Catterns

Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929-1934

His signature appeared on the bank notes between the dates above.

Here's his picture from the book English Paper Money.




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Pen Pictures added


Cambpell Christie MC - [WW2 General & Agatha Christie's Brother in Law]

Colin Gubbins MC - [WW2 General and founder of SOE]


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Pen Picture added


Maurice Bowra - [Academic / Literary Critic]



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Pen Picture added


Bud Flanagan - [Entertainer] served as Robert Weintrop
Henry Hall - [Band Leader]



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Pen Picture added


Lionel Robbins - [Economist]

Lawrence Bragg MC - [Physicist]

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Looking at the account of George Mallory's service as given by Wade Davis in his book 'Into the Silence,' I see that at one stage Mallory was serving together with another of your notable persons. Mallory returned to the front in late September 1918 and was assigned to 515th Siege Battery, under Major Gwilym Lloyd George.


best regards


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It looks like the came together on the formation of 515th Siege Battery. With the British Army advancing and rail guns left behind I would think there would have been ample opportunity for both officers to talk about their thoughts and aspirations once the war ended.





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any opportunity 

1 hour ago, ianjonesncl said:

to talk about their thoughts and aspirations once the war ended.

was curtailed when the major was called to Paris 03 November 1918 to join his father's staff.

George wrote to his wife "Lucky dog, I wish my father were P.M."




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Pen Picture added:


Tom Barry - [Guerrilla leader during Irish Civil War]

Basil Catterns - [Chief Cashier Bank of England 1929 - 1934]

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Two more added who are commemorated in Poets Corner Westminster Abbey

Poets' Corner - Wikipedia


Robert Nichols - [Writer]

Edward Thomas - [Poet]


Edward Nichols was killed 9th April 1917 on the first day of the Battle of Arras.

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