Gerard Croft Hoare - 2nd Lieutenant, Rifle Brigade

 

Gerard Croft Hoare was was born at Meadham, Churchgate Street in 1899.

His parents were Captain Geoffrey de Mounterrey Gerard Hoare and Joyce Hoare (nee Croft) and had only moved from Fanhams Hall in Ware the year before.

He was very bright and went straight in to the prep-school St. Peters Court in Broadstairs before moving on to the 14th century Winchester College. Here, he was to become a well liked and known figure, becoming the Head of his House and a commoner Prefect.

In 1917 he left to join an Officer Cadet Battalion and was gazetted the following December to the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade, which took him to the front in April 1918. While Gerard was moving across France, his family home was becoming a hospital along with the adjoining house.

He had only been in Craonne (France) for one month when the Germans launched a fierce attack, bombarding them with over 4,000 artillery shells. The british where reluctant to let this area go after it had been captured only the previous year with such a heavy loss of lives. 

After the shells came a poison gas drop, which was then followed by an infantry assault of 17 German Sturmtruppen divisions.
They smashed through the Allied forces like they weren't there, travelling 25 miles in just six hours.

Though the Germans had captured over 50,000 prisoners, they started to suffer with lack of supplies, heavy casualties and fatigue.

In June 1918 after many counter attacks, the Germans were halted and stopped on the Marne.
While trying to cross the Aisne river the previous month, under seriously heavy fire, Gerard was injured during a retreat. He was pulled to safety and managed to get out without being killed or taken prisoner like so many were.
During this battle the French had over 98,000 casualties and the British around 29,000 and it is believed the German losses were even higher. It wasn't until the Americans arrived for the first time during WWI that things started to look up.
Meanwhile at Meadham, Gerard's mother and Mrs. F.H Jones were now responsible for running the hospital and had helped many returning injured soldiers.
Gerard was now in hospital in Bournemouth with a complete recovery on the horizon.
Towards the end of August 1918, Joyce received a letter from Gerard saying that he was going to play tennis with the nurses soon if he went on getting better. Sadly, the very next day, a telegram came through saying that Gerard had died from his injuries. Septicemia had set in and with no antibiotics his body just could not fight it.
2nd Lieutenant Gerard Hoare died at the young age of 19 o
n the 1st of August 1918, several weeks before his mother had received his last letter and telegram.
Gerard is buried at St. Mary Church in Churchgate Street alongside his mother Joyce. 

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