Topic: Gillanders, William Simon

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War killed in an accident.

Gillanders, W. S.Bere Ferrers Railway Station accident: Ten privates, serving in the 1NZEF (28th Reinforcements) were killed in Bere Ferrers Railway Station while getting out of the Troop Train on September 24 1917. They had just landed at Plymouth and were on their way to join their comrades on Salisbury Plain for preliminary training.
The accident happened when a trainful of NZ troops who had just arrived in the country left Friary Station, Plymouth at 3pm. At 3.50 the train approached Bere Ferrers. The soldiers were raw, sick, tired and above all hungry, having eaten breakfast at 6am. They had been told that food would be provided on the journey. The arrangement was that when the train made its first stop at Exeter, two men from each carriage would carry provisions from the brake-van together with cups of tea and buns provided by the Mayoress' Comforts Fund. When the train made an unscheduled stop at Bere Ferrers, men in the rear section of the train decided that this must be Exeter, and breaking the rule of two from each carriage, jumped down. Some of them spilled onto the down-line track, just as the Waterloo -to- Plymouth Express rounded the sharp curve on its entry into Bere Ferrers. Although the fireman shouted a warning, and the train driver applied the brakes, the train pulled up about 400m beyond the station. Nine soldiers died instantly and another died the following morning in Tavistock Hospital. The inquest revealed that the men had got out of the train in the wrong side simply because they had assumed the door of entry was the correct door to exit by. Information was supplied by Mrs Kyle (England).


CWGC Cemetery locale history:  During the First World War, Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse contained between them the Royal Dockyard, Royal Naval Barracks (known as H.M.S. Vivid), the Royal Marine Barracks of the Plymouth Division, and naval and military hospitals. For the duration of the war, Devonport was made headquarters of the Auxiliary Patrol Area. Plymouth was a naval station second only to Portsmouth during the Second World War. Devonport was also an important military station and there was a R.A.F station at Mount Batten, opposite Plymouth. PLYMOUTH (EFFORD) CEMETERY contains 338 scattered burials of the First World War. The 109 Second World War burials, including 5 unidentified, are also scattered apart from a small group in Section C, in a plot set aside for service burials that was actually little used. There are also two non-war service burials within the cemetery and 12 war graves of other nationalities, most of them Greek merchant seamen. PLYMOUTH CITY CREMATORIUM is situated in Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery and 61 servicemen and women of the Second World War whose remains were cremated there are commemorated on a screen wall set into a recess in the hedge behind the Cross of Sacrifice.


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Gillanders, William Simon

First Names:William Simon
Last Name:Gillanders
Date of Birth:1881
Date of Death:24 September 1917
Place of Death:Bere Ferrers, Plymouth, UK
Memorial or Cemetery:Headstone, Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery
Age at death:36
User Name:Selwyn Library
Other names known by:William Jenson on BDM record
Occupation before enlisting:Sheepfarmer
Marital Status:Married, ? wife M A Gillanders, 1 Rugby St, Christchurch.
Regiment or Service:New Zealand Rifle Brigade/ New Zealand Infantry
Country:New Zealand
Parents or Next of Kin:Hector and May Gillanders
Service Number:55050
Rank last held:Rifleman
Embarkation:26 July 1917
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Cause of Death:Acidental death on active service