Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Private William Simon Gillanders - Darfield Memorial

Private Gillanders was born in Darfield on 8 June 1881 the son of Hector and Mary Gillanders both originally from Scotland they were one of Darfield's early settlers. Both parents were deceased at the time of Gillander's enlistment on the 9 February 1917.

Private Gillanders embarked aboard the Ulimaroa from Wellington to Plymouth, England on 26 July 1917.  He never made it to the front as he was tragically killed accidently shortly after his arrival in the England.  Private Gillanders was one of ten New Zealand soldiers killed as a result of a tragic railway accident at Bere Ferrers in Devon.

After the arrival of New Zealand troops in Plymouth from the 'Ulimaroa' and the 'Norman' the men boarded  a train headed for Camp Sling.  The men were tired and hungry and were told they would get provisions when the train stop at Exeter, where two men from each carriage would disembark to collect the provisions.  However the train made an unexpected stop at Bere Ferrers due to a stop signal.  Some of the men assumed they had stop in Exeter and disembarked the train as the the Waterloo to Plymouth express made its approach into Berres Ferrers station.  Despite the drivers attempt to halt the train it was unable to stop in time before colliding with the disembarking men. 

A more detailed account of the accident (definitely worth a read) has been written by Bruce Hunt the link is below:
Bere Ferrers Station circa. 1918
Evening Post, 1 October 1917

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