Posts Tagged ‘George Kenneth Thompson Fisher’

Full Name: G. K. T. Fisher
Born: 4 August 1879
Date of Death: 3 September 1917
Age at death: 38
Service, Regiment, Corps, etc: Norfolk Regiment
Unit, Ship, etc: 4th Battalion
Enlisted: 1914
Rank: Captain
Decorations: Mentioned in Dispatches – London Gazette – 28th January 1916, page 1199 and Military Cross awarded 15 March 1916
War (and theatre): WW1 (Egypt and Palestine)
Manner of Death: Killed in action
Family Details: Husband of Janet Fisher, 23 Launceston Place, London
Residence: Burgh House, Norfolk; Ashdown Park, Forest Row, East Sussex
Home Department: Board of Trade – Labour Department (London and South East Division)
Civilian Rank: Labour Exchange Clerk
Cemetery or Memorial: Gaza War Cemetery (Plot XXIV. Row A. Grave 12); Harrow School Roll of Honour;  Hartford, Colemans Hatch and Holy Trinity Forest Row War Memorials located in Ashdown Forest area of East Sussex; Fleggburgh St Margaret and Billockby War Memorial, Norfolk; Ministry of Labour War Memorial (located at Caxton House, Tothill Street, London) and the Board of Trade War Memorial (now located at 3 Whitehall Place, London)



Captain G K T Fisher (Photo taken from Findagrave website added by laurinlaurin espie)

George Kenneth Thompson Fisher was born on 4 August 1879 in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, England. He came from a prestigious family being the eldest son of the Rt Rev George Carnac Fisher (1844 – 9 April 1921), who held the positions of Bishop of Southampton (1896 – 1898), Bishop of Ipswich (1899 – 1906) and Bishop of Islington and was also previously Hon. Canon of Norwich and his wife Mary Penelope Gwendoline Thompson (the daughter of Thomas Charles Thompson, a former MP for Durham City whose country estate was at Ashdown Park in Sussex).

In the 1881 census he is recorded living at The Vicarage, Salthouse Road, Barrow, where his father was the local vicar. In 1891 he was recorded as staying at The Granville, Ramsgate, Kent. At this time, this was a hotel designed by Edward Welby Pugin (the son of the architect Augustus Pugin). The hotel was famous for its 25 different types of baths.  In 1901 he is living at Burgh House, Burgh St Margaret (also known as Fleggburgh), Norfolk. Then in the 1911 census he was residing at 108 Ebury Street, London, SW1.

His wife was Janet Katherine Mary Anson (a sister of Sir Denis Anson, 4th Baronet, who is remembered for sadly drowning in The Thames in 1914 aged 26 due to high spirits and high jinx with friends). Captain Fisher and Janet were married on 23 August 1914 at St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London by special licence of his father. They had two sons – Sir Anthony George Fisher (1915 – 1988), an entrepreneur and founder of several thinktanks such as the Atlas Foundation and Basil Mark Fisher (8 October 1914 – 15 August 1940).  Captain Fisher presumably met his wife in social circles in the Forest Row/Ashdown Park area of Sussex, since his father was previously a Vicar at Forest Row in 1874.


Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, Forest Row, East Sussex

Captain Fisher inherited Ashdown Park in 1908. This was originally the home of his wife’s father (Thomas Charles Thompson MP) who acquired the estate in 1867 located at Forest Row in East Sussex.  Thomas Thompson subsequently had the main mansion house rebuilt. This updated building survives to this day – an impressive neo-Gothic Victorian design The estate (which also incorporates a chapel and side wings built by the Order of the Sister of Notre Dame in the 1920s) is now the Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, a four star, luxurious country club. There is a memorial book at Ashdown Park which records the signature of Captain Fisher’s widow, Janet, whose address is given as Burgh House, Fleggburgh, but formerly as Ashdown Park.

Captain Fisher was a former pupil at Cheam School and then subsequently Harrow School from 1893 to 1897. He was a university graduate of New College, Oxford where he studied Art under three famous Royal Academy artists – George Adolphus Storey (1834-1919), Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) and Sir Arnesby Brown (1866-1955). After graduating, he travelled to the Middle East and the Balkans before taking up a position in the Board of Trade’s Labour Department as a Labour Exchange Clerk.

Prior to the war, in 1909 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. In 1912 he also became one of the Sheriffs for the county of Durham. before taking up a position in the Board of Trade’s Labour Department as a Labour Exchange Clerk.

At the start of WW1, he was commissioned as an officer in his existing Regiment and Battalion, which was a natural choice given his connection to Norfolk. He sailed on 29 July 1915 with the Battalion from Liverpool to Gallipoli and was involved in the landing at Suvla Bay (8 to 15 August 1915). The military action as Suvla was intended as a means to break the deadlock at Gallipoli but it ended up being totally mismanaged and the leadership of the British commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford is considered an example of incompetence and indecision.

He was awarded the Military Cross (as published in the London Gazette dated 15th March 1916) and Mentioned in Dispatches in the London Gazette published on 9 September 1916:

“For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led the first line in the attack with great
dash, and, though wounded, stuck to his duty and continued to do fine work until midnight, when he was ordered back with a message. He was then sent to hospital.”

As result he was ultimately invalided home back to the UK due to dysentery. This was a common illness seen in the military in WW1 caused by either dirty contaminated water or due to flies contaminating food and by inadequate hygiene. If left untreated, soldiers were faced with the risk of secondary infections such as liver abcesses and chronic pain and possibly death.

Fortunately Captain Fisher recovered to take up a staff appointment and then a role in the Ministry of Munitions, before rejoining his Regiment and sailing back to Egypt on 18 March 1917.

He died in Gaza on 3 September 1917 as result of his wounds. As detailed in the Battalion War Diary, the circumstances of his death were that he was out on patrol on the night of 2 September. He was ahead of the rest of the patrol and was fatally wounded by a bomb thrown by a Turkish sniper. Despite being taken back to the lines by the patrol, who died shorty afterwards within an hour of being injured. He is buried in the Gaza War Cemetery, which is located four miles south of Gaza.

Those who knew him wrote many fine tributes to him, as follows:

  • His Colonel wrote – “Ever since I took over the command of the Battalion he had been one of my chief supporters. . . . I can’t tell you what a help he was to me. I cannot replace him either as an Officer or companion.”
  • The Chaplain wrote – “We could ill afford to lose such a fine character. He was a great favourite and beloved by all who knew him. He was always the same, cheerful and good-humoured. I may say that I have lost a true friend.”
  • Sir George Barnes, K.C.B., Member of the Indian Council, wrote – “He will be a real loss to the Board of Trade, for, starting at the very bottom, he had steadily won his way upwards by his industry and by his force of character… All the advancement he got he won for himself, and it is no easy thing to win advancement from the bottom in Government employ.”

Captain Fisher is remembered in eight separate locations. He is buried in the Gaza War Cemetery (Plot XXIV. Row A. Grave 12). In the UK, he is remembered on local War Memorials located at Hartfield and Coleman’s Hatch, and Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row, all located in the Ashdown Forest area of East Sussex (and close to Ashdown Park) and also on the Fleggburgh St Margaret and Billockby War Memorial (located in the village near to his Norfolk home of Burgh House, not far from Great Yarmouth). The memorial in Fleggburgh, which is in the form of a memorial cross was unveiled by Captain Fisher’s wife on 10 December 1922. He is also named on the Harrow School Roll of Honour as well as two Civil Service War Memorials – the Ministry of Labour War Memorial and the Board of Trade War Memorial.

The vast majority of the information above is taken directly from the biography of George’s life recorded by Harrow School as published on their WW1 memorial website (which is also referenced as a source by other places associated with Captain Fisher’s life in Norfolk and in East Sussex). The details of Captain Fisher’s connection with Ashdown Park are detailed by the previous research of the Ashdown Forest Research Group who have previously conducted research into the lives of all the men, including Captain Fisher, commemorated on the Forest Row War Memorial located in East Sussex.

As the Greatwarliveslost website explains so eloquently “the uniformity of the many thousands of headstones in cemeteries has something impersonal about it.  All of these identical grave markers in a way make it hard to fully realize that each headstone and memorial represents a unique person, with his or her own personality, history, social and familial background, every story representing a different tragedy.” Behind each name is a personal and family tragedy which is shared by men from all backgrounds and from all corners of the UK and wider corners of the globe – whether from working class backgrounds or from the more privileged upbringing of Captain Fisher.

What is also incredibly poignant is that despite being described as “the war to end all wars”, little more than twenty years later, sadly one of Captain Fisher’s own sons – Basil Mark Fisher –  died during World War Two. Basil Fisher, like his father, was also a civil servant, working for the Board of Customs and Excise. During WW2 he served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and served as Flying Officer (Pilot) 72382 in 111 Squadron based at Croydon. On 15 August 1940 his plane was shot down in flames. Despite baling out he crashed at Greenwoods Farm, Sidlesham. He was only 23. Basil is buried at St John’s Church Cemetery, Eton (near where he went to school). His older brother, Anthony George Fisher, also served in WW2 but survived.

In the words of Captain Fisher’s gravestone inscription “I make all things new” (Revelation XXI Verse 5). With each new day we learn from the mistakes and enmities of the past and trust that new generations will not have their lives cut short like those of Captain Fisher or his son Basil Mark Fisher. That is why we continue to remember men from all backgrounds and nationalities.





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