Lance Serjeant John Edwin Gane

1st Bn. The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

Shown as J Gain on the Town Memorial World War II

Lance Serjeant

Service Number 6102240
Died 22/04/1945
Aged 31
1st Bn.
The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)
Son of Harold and Evelyn Gane; husband of Vera Gane.
Cemetery/memorial reference: II, E, 2.

For some time the name John Gain in the Leatherhead RBL WW2 Roll of Honour/J Gain on the Leatherhead Town War Memorial had eluded the quest to identify and tell the story of all those named on the Leatherhead War Memorial. No one with that name with a connection to Leatherhead could be found. Then during research on WW2 in Leatherhead in the on-line British Newspaper Archive (facilitated by Lorraine Spindler, former curator of Leatherhead Museum) the following report was noted:

Surrey Advertiser - Saturday 12 May 1945
Mrs. Gane, of Byron Place, Leatherhead, has been informed that her husband, L/Sgt. John Edwin Gane of The Buffs, was drowned whilst crossing a river in Italy on April 22nd. He had served with H.M. Forces for five years, and with the Army in Italy for the past 2 1/2 years. Before the war he was employed at Messrs. Sainsbury’s, Leatherhead. In a letter to Mrs. Gane, his commanding officer told her that her husband was senior section commander In his platoon. The men had the greatest respect for his courage and decision, and they had lost a trusted and loyal comrade. On the day he lost his life, his company were close on the heels of the retreating Germans. They were given the dangerous task of racing ahead of the enemy to seize a bridge vital to the speed of the advance, before the Germans could blow it up. The men were to cross the river on a small raft, three at a time. The first three men got over, but when Sgt. Gane and his companions were half over, the raft broke. Two of them were rescued. Mrs. Gane has a little son, aged four.

A search on the CWGC database for John Edwin Gane was successful and research on the ancestry website provided confirmation that he had lived in Leatherhead (see below).

Johns enlistment was recorded in the Queen´s Royal West Surrey 1940 Enlistment Register, Book 25
6102240 26.7.40 GANE John Edwin
Transferred LAA 1 Dec 1941 Re Trans QRR 21.8.44
Trans Buffs 16/12/44

His background
John's birth was registered at Kingston District, Surrey in the Jul-Aug-Sep Quarter of 1913.

His father was Harold Orlando Gane MM. From the fragments of Harold's military record which survived bombing in WW2, when he enlisted on 29 June 1916 Harold gave his age as 29, place of birth as Freemantle, Hampshire and occupation as Schoolmaster.

The Military Medal was a very significant award and it must have been a source of pride for young John, though many old soldiers did not speak of their experiences except to those who had been there. The award of the MM was published in the London Gazette 30259 29 August 1917, Harold's unit given as  211 Bty Royal Field Artillery, RGA.  It was presented by to him by Major JC May DSO commanding Kingston Depot East Surrey Regt 2/1/19.

Harold married Evelyn, née King, at the Congregational Church, Southampton on 18 April 1911. They had two children: John Edwin Gane, born 25 June 1913, Claygate, Surrey and Laurance William Gane, born 29 June 1916, Southampton (d 1994). When he had attested for military service, Harold gave his address as Verwood,Church Walk, Thames Ditton, Surrey.

In the 1934 and 1935 Electoral Registers John was living at 10 Magazine Place, Leatherhead. Albert Thomas Pinion and Louisa Pinion were registered at the same address. Magazine Place and Byron Place (see below) are adjacent roads off Church Road, Leatherhead. 

In the 1938 and 1939 Electoral Registers he was living at 29A The Market, Wrythe Lane, Carshalton. Dorothy Helen Moore was registered at the same address.

The marriage of John Edwin Gane to Vera Baggs was registered in the Surrey Mid-Eastern District in July 1939.

His Probate Record states:
GANE, John Edwin of Hayes Cottage, 2 Byron Place Leatherhead died 22 April 1945 on war service, to Vera Gane widow

In the 1937 and 1938 Electoral Registers his wife to be, Vera, née Baggs, was living at 2 Byron Place, Leatherhead. Charles Stanley Baggs and Elizabeth Caroline Baggs were registered at the same address. In the 1939 Electoral Register they had been joined by Ivy Violet Baggs.

In the May 1945 May Electoral Register the newly widowed Vera Gane was still at 2 Byron Place, Leatherhead, at which Charles S Baggs, Elizabeth C Baggs and Daisy M Chester were also registered. By 1947 Daisy was gone.

In the 1950 and 1951 Electoral Registers Vera and the Baggs had moved to 6 Hartswood Avenue, Reigate.

In the 1961 and 1962 Electoral Registers Vera (Vera J Gane) had moved to 62 Brook Road, Reigate, where Albert E Gane and Elsie M Gane were also registered, as was Kenneth W Gane. Could be this be John Gane's 'little son, aged four' referred to in the Surrey Advertiser report?

Vera's death, aged 89, was recorded in 2005 and her birth date was given as 8 Dec 1915.
Registration Date:    Feb 2005: Registration district: Worthing, West Sussex
Register Number:    1B46C District and Subdistrict:    786/1B Entry Number:    88

John is remembered on the Leatherhead Town Memorial (as J Gain) and the Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour (as John Gain).

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, and of any recollections of him

last updated 25 May 20