Guy Gibney was working as a Farmer in Harvey WA, when he enlisted for service in the Great War 1914 – 1918 ,on 24th July 1915.  He completed an Application for Enlistment form  in Bunbury WA and was posted to the 32nd Battalion in mid-September 1915. Just prior to Christmas 1915, he disembarked at Alexandria Egypt , to undergo additional training, before being posted to the Western Front.

Tragically , he was eventually confirmed as being Killed in Action on 20th July 1916, near Fromelles Fleurbaix, France. ( It is certain that Guy GIBNEY is one of the 32nd Battalion soldiers whose remains were discovered in the Mass Grave within Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, in recent years ). Both GIBNEY and Mervyn ROSS – S/N 1040, of the 32nd Battalion went missing on the same day, with their names adjacently inscribed on the V.C Corner Australian Memorial at Fromelles. There remains are amongst those discovered in the Mass Grave , awaiting positive DNA Identification. Many of the other 32nd Battalion Casualties from action on the same day have been DNA Identified, and granted a  Grave/Headstone in the New Pheasant Wood Cemetery at Fromelles. One of their South West mates, Pte, Adolf Thompson KNABLE S/N 1603, from Wellington Mills , ( also lost on the 20 July, 1916 ), has recently been honoured with a New Grave at Pheasant Wood, after positive DNA Identification.

At enlistment, Guy was allocated Service No. 1078, which had also been unfortunately duplicated and issued to another soldier as well. Although there had been a re-allocation of Serial No. 1083 to Guy, his Service File documents were never completely amended, causing many problems over ensuing years.

The Army had confirmed issue of re-allocated  No. 1083, however further key documents were issued, quoting No. 1078, including the Death Certificate.

Guy had nominated his Sister, Iris Tara Gibney as his next of Kin ( his father was  already deceased ), and there were a number of  items of correspondence  between herself and the Army, following her Brother’s death. Iris would rightfully have been disenchanted, and stressed by the contents and lack of timeliness of the Army’s responses ,at the time.  Extracts from Correspondence follow:-

( 1 )-  Letter dated 31st August 1916 from Iris Gibney to Army-  ” I have received your information today concerning my brother and hope the missing man is not him, as his number is not 1078, but 1083. There was trouble about his No. sometime in March, and I wrote immediately to the District Paymaster, telling him it was wrong. I have written to my brother every mail since he sailed and addressed the letters No. 1083 and he has received them safely. I have also received his Pay under that number.  Hoping for the best news, and will you kindly let me know as soon as possible “.

( 2 )-Letter dated 28th December 1916 from Iris  Gibney at “Winchcombe ” Harvey WA to Army Base Records Melbourne :- ” Re. belongings of my brother No. 1083 or 1078 Pte. G.S.D. GIBNEY, C Company 32nd Battalion, reported Missing July 20th 1916. Will you kindly forward any of his personal belongings, to me, who am his next of kin “.

( 3 )- Letter dated 22nd May 1917  from Iris Gibney to Army Base Records Melbourne:- ” Now that I have heard officially of the death of my brother No. 1083 Pte. G.S.D. GIBNEY C Company 32nd Battalion reported Missing July 20, would it be possible for you to forward me a copy of his will, which he told me he had made, in the back of his Pay Book while in Egypt “.

( 4 )- Letter dated 8th June 1917 from Army to Iris Gibney:- ” I have to acknowledge receipt of your communication 0f 22nd Ultimo, and in reply have to state that there is no notification of a Will to date. If Pte. G.S.D. GIBNEY has prepared the Will-form provided in his Pay Book, or if such a document be discovered amongst his personal belongings, the Authorities at the Front will despatch same to this Office for transmission to the Legatee “.

( 5 )- Letter dated October 1917 from Iris Gibney to the Army:- ” Will you kindly let me know as soon as possible, whether there is any hope of my receiving any of my brother’s No. 1083 Pte. G.S.D. GIBNEY, C Company 32nd Battalion, reported Missing July 20th 1916, now Killed in Action the same date, personal belongings, as it is over a year ago, and I have not received a single thing “.

( 6 )- Letter dated 3rd January 1921 from Iris Gibney to the Army:- ” Re. your communication of December 28th 1920 re. War Medal. My mother as far as I know is still alive, but my brother and myself were deserted by her as babies and we have never heard from her, I do not know her address even. My father is dead, and I have no other brothers or sisters, so I consider myself justly next of kin, and shall be glad to receive the Medal as same “.

( 7 )- Standard Form from Army dated 5th September 1921 to Iris Gibney-  Stating that the Army have been unable to trace the last resting place of the late No. 1083 Pte. G.S.D. GIBNEY , 32nd Battalion, requesting copies of letters that may assist them in locating the exact location of his death, or when he may last have been seen alive:- Iris replied on October 21st 1921- ” Please find enclosed letters with information which I hope will be of use. I regret I have been unable to answer sooner owing to sickness. Trusting you will be successful “.

(  8 )-  Standard Form as per No.(  7 )- from Army dated November 2nd 1921 to Iris Gibney ”  Brother killed 20/07/1916 Vicinity of Fromelles Fleurbaix “.

 

AUTHOR  NOTE:-

We are still left to ponder whether Iris ever received any of Guy’s Personal Belongings, or if his Will was eventually discovered.