GTG – after the war with the Bihar Light Horse

It seems GTG remained on the staff at the School of Instruction for Young Officers at Sabathu and Ambala until 1919.

 GTG’s service record is unclear when he ceased his role as instructor at the school but it seems from the photo album that he returned to civilian life quite soon after the war. He was married on 30 December 1918 at St.Thomas’s Cathedral, Bombay to Annie Vera Chapman (known as ‘Vera’). Vera served in the war as a V.A.D. nurse at Bevan Hospital, Sandgate, Kent so how they met each other is unclear.

There is a photo in GTG’s album of Vera with her brother Lawrence Vaughan Chapman  who was a Lieutenant in the 2nd Rifle Brigade and was killed in Flanders on 25 September 1915.

From 1919 GTG worked at the Russelpur indigo plantation and factory in North Bihar (I believe it is now called Rasulpur). And a year later, on 15th December 1919, GTG and Vera’s first child, Vaughan Reginald Gill (known as Reggie after his uncle RHG), was born.

The photo album shows a long leave in England in 1921 where their second son David Lawrence George Gill (Dave) was born on 2nd August 1921, and then back to Russelpur. I assume GTG remained in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (I.A.R.O.) until 1922 when his service record states that  he was “Permitted to relinquish commission and granted rank of Captain – 1st May, 1922”. However it seems he was back in the I.A.R.O. in 1923 because the next entry in the service record states “Appointed Captain in I.A.R.O. – 10th April 1923”. I wonder why?

By this time it seems that GTG and family had moved to the Japaha sugar factory in Muzaffarpur District, Bihar, which GTG describes was “HQ district of same name in province of Bihar and Orissa, known as Tirhut, also called the garden of India”.

It was at Japaha that GTG and Vera’s third child Rosemary Theodora Mitchell Gill (Rosie) was born on 11th January 1924. There was a serious earthquake in Bihar in 1934, the devastating effects of which GTG captured by photograph in great detail.

1934 Bihar Earthquake (click photos to enlarge):

The last entry in GTG’s service record states “Resigned commission in A.I.R.O. – 1st January, 1930”. There are then a number of photos of GTG from 1930 onwards in the Bihar Light Horse (BLH) based at Muzaffarpur.

It seems GTG was given the rank of sergeant in the BLH. The BLH was part of the Auxiliary Force (India) and was a volunteer, part-time unit. I understand that it was quite popular to join such a ‘territorial’ unit, which were social hubs for British society in India, and due to the popularity it was common for former officers to join as other ranks. From the photos it certainly seems very sociable.

Some members of the Bihar Light Horse, Muzaffarpur
L to R: Bill Barkley, Streaky Campbell (I.P.),  McCarthy, Lt. Col. A.L. Danby O.C
On R – back: Ronnie, Frazer; front L to R: Sgt. G.T.Gill, N.V. Hayne, Morgan

It seems that Ferrers Munns, who was a good friend of GTG, wrote a short booklet entitled  “In Memory of the Bihar Light Horse” to commemorate the unveiling of a plaque to the BLH at Sandhurst in 1958. It is from this booklet that the various information on the BLH on the internet is taken.

Ferrers & Margaret Munns, Japaha 1933

With war in Europe looming, GTG returned to the UK in 1939, living at Sunbury-on-Thames. I believe that during WWII he served as an officer in the Home Guard but unfortunately his photo album stops in the late 1930s.  All three of GTG’s children Reggie, Dave and Rosie served in WWII. Reggie joined the Fleet Air Arm and trained as a pilot at NAS Brunswick in the USA. David joined the RAF and trained as a pilot in South Africa and Rosemary joined the W.R.N.S., stationed in London, Brighton and Edinburgh. And Vera served in the WVS in Sunbury – so the whole family was in uniform.

Tragically, Reggie died in a mid-air collision whilst on a training flight in a F4U-1 Corsair over Lake Sebago, Maine on 16 May 1944. It seems the two planes were discovered a few years ago submerged in the lake and there were plans to try to salvage the planes, but this was blocked in 2004 by legal action the State of Maine and the MOD.