No. 57742, 121st Field Company, Royal Engineers, 36th (Ulster) Division
Died of wounds on Friday 22 June 1917 (aged 26)
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France (Grave IV. A. 12)
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Driver Alexander Gibson (No. 57742) was born in Newtownards.
Some of his service papers have survived and in these it is noted that he was married to Sarah Gibson (nee Laverty).
Marriage records show that Alexander Gibson and Sarah Laverty were married on 18 October 1914 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral Belfast. Alexander Gibson (aged 23) was a labourer and a son of James Gibson, a tenter. Sarah Laverty (aged 23) was a daughter of Samuel Laverty, a labourer.
Records indicate that the Gibson family lived at 44 Bentham Street, Belfast; at 25 Harrison Street, Belfast and at 16 Baywood Street, Belfast.
Alexander and Sarah Gibson (nee Laverty) had one child:
Harold (born 19 August 1915 at 44 Bentham Street, Belfast)
In 1911 a Gibson family lived at 18 Baywood Street, Belfast – Alexander, a dock-labourer aged 50, his wife Agnes aged 50 and his daughters Elizabeth aged 17 and Agnes aged 7. It was recorded that Alexander and Agnes had been married for 29 years and that only two of their 11 children were still living.
Alexander Gibson enlisted on 16 December 1914 in Belfast. It was noted on his attestation papers that he was a boilerman’s helper and he was 5 feet 8¼ inches tall.
During the Great War Alexander Gibson served as a Driver with the 121st Field Company Royal Engineers in the 36th (Ulster) Division and on 22 June 1917 he died of wounds sustained on 12 April 1917. He suffered shell wounds in his left thigh and right shoulder and then septicaemia. Driver Alexander Gibson (No. 57742) died in the 3rd Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne and it was noted in his papers that his wife Sarah was refused permission to visit him.
In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour website, it is recorded that Driver Alexander Gibson was 25 when he died and that he was buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
UNTIL THE DAY BREAKS
AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY
At the time of Alexander’s death his wife Sarah was living at 16 Baywood Street, Belfast. Sarah acknowledged receipt of all his personal effects: correspondence, a curl of hair, photographs, a religious book in a case, laces, a toothbrush, shrapnel pieces, a shaving brush, a boat ticket and a razor in a case.
Sarah also received her husband’s medals: the 1914/1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Driver Alexander Gibson is commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 212).
It is recorded in Alexander Gibson’s marriage certificate that he was 23 and a son of James Gibson, a tenter. If he was 23 on 18 October 1914 then his date of birth must lie between 19 October 1890 and 18 October 1891.
Alexander Gibson was born on 31 May 1891 in East Street, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Agnes Jane Gibson (nee McKibbin, sometimes McKibben) who were married on 27 June 1878 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark). James Gibson from Conlig was a son of James Gibson, a mason. Agnes Jane McKibbin from Conlig was a daughter of Andrew McKibben, a labourer.
In different documents James Gibson is described as a weaver, a cotton weaver, a labourer and a tenter.
James and Agnes Jane Gibson (nee McKibben) lived in Conlig, in Newtownards and in Belfast and they had at least nine children:
Hugh (born 26 August 1878 in Conlig; married Jane McGreevy 19 November 1901 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast)
David John (born 10 January 1880 in Conlig)
Agnes Jane (born 15 November 1881 in Conlig)
James (born 30 September 1883 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 30 June 1886 in Windmill Row, Newtownards)
William (born 11 August 1888 in East Street, Newtownards)
Alexander (born 31 May 1891 in East Street, Newtownards)
Andrew (born 14 November 1893 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Robert (born 24 May 1896 at 17 Holmes Street, Belfast)
In 1901 the Gibson family was living in Teutonic Street, Belfast.