Gordon Hedley Carlton came from the north-west of England, via Yorkshire to Chelmsford as a boy. He narrowly escaped drowning in 1902. He worked as a boot repairer, joined the army and was killed in action near Ypres in August 1917. His home was in Hall Street.
Gordon was born in Morecambe, Lancashire on 2nd May 1894, the son of the stationary steam engine driver Thomas Carlton and Elizabeth Carlton (formerly Harker), a widow with three children. His father had been born in 1854 in Appleby, Westmorland; his mother c1854 in Richmond, Yorkshire. The couple had married in the Darlington district in 1878,
In 1891 the family had been living at 32 Victoria Road in Dewsbury, Yorkshire where Gordon’s father was a gas mains layer.
He was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, Lancaster, Lancashire on 25th May 1894, at which point his father was an engine-man of 16 Beech Street Marsh.
Gordon’s siblings, all Dewsbury-born, included John William Carlton (born in 1879), Mary Ann Carlton (born in 1882), Thomas Carlton (born in 1887), Jane Carlton (born in 1888), and George Harker Carlton (born in 1891).
Gordon’s mother died in the Lancaster district in 1895 and his father married Hatfield Peverel-born Annie Horsnell at St. Mary’s Church n Lancaster 27th August 1898. At the time his father was 41 years old, living at 5 West Road, and working as a gas fitter, His bride was 34.
The couple had three children: Frank Carlton (born in 1899 in Lancaster), Katie Carlton (born in 1901 in Springfield) and Frederick Thomas Carlton (born in 1905 in Chelmsford and baptised at Springfield Holy Trinity Church on 19th March that year).
Gordon appears to have spent his initial years in Lancashire, before coming to the Chelmsford area with his family around 1900, presumably through his second wife’s connections with that part of Essex.. The 1901 census found six year-old Gordon, his parents and four siblings at 3 Provident Square, Springfield. His father was a worker at the gas works nearby.
CARLTON, GORDON HEDLEY,
Private, 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (formerly of the Essex Regiment)
Four years later the 1911 census recorded 17 year-old Gordon living with his parents and four siblings at 28 Rochford Road in Chelmsford. Gordon was a boot repairer; his father a stationary engine driver at Chelmsford Corporation Water Works; and his sister May Ann an employee at Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph works,
Gordon enlisted at Warley where he became Private 32351 in the 13th Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles. Gordon was killed in action on 12th August 1917 while serving as Rifleman 41296 in the 10th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles. He was aged 23.
On 31st August 1917 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Rifleman Gordon H. Carlton, 4th son of Mr T. Carlton, 8 Hall Street, Chelmsford, has been killed in action in France. Deceased had been at the Front several months, and, according to his comrades was doing very well indeed, and had been transferred into the M.G.C. He was 23 years of age. His brother, Petty-officer Geo. H. Carlton, was recently presented with the D.S.M. by his Majesty the King.”
Gordon has no known grave and commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St John’s Church, Moulsham. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed Gordon’s father and step-mother at 8 Hall Street, Chelmsford - a property within the Corporation Water Works. Gordon’s father died in 1925. His mother died 25 years later.
28th August 1902 Gordon had a narrow escape from drowning in the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, an incident that made the news in one of Chelmsford’s newspapers.
In December 1906 Gordon was once agin in the paper when his father tried unsuccessfully to persuade Chelmsford’s magistrates to send him to the Essex Industrial School. Despite that it seems that Gordon was sent to the school - as the following August Gordon’s father went before the magistrates and was ordered to pay one shilling and sixpence per week towards the maintenance of his son at the school.