Soldier’s name still missing - 50 years after his death

As people remembered the fallen on Remembrance Day, a campaign to get a Warwick soldier’s name on the town’s war memorial has reignited.

For the past three and a half years, David Bradshaw and his friends have been campaigning for the name of Graham Gillingham to be added to the memorial in Church Street.

Fifty years ago, the former Royal Marine was killed at the age of 20, during what would today be referred to as a “friendly fire” incident in South East Asia.

The late Mr Gillingham - or Gilly - as he was known to pals Fred Stopps and Cled O’Connell - still has family living in Warwick.

They had hoped that Mr Bradshaw’s continual approaches to the town clerk, town councillors, district council leader and more recently local MP Chris White, would have resulted in Mr Gillingham’s name being added to the bronze plaques attached to the memorial.

Mr Bradshaw said: “Gilly was a couple of years younger than me but I remember him from when we were at All Saints School in Emscote together. He was born in George Road, Warwick, and was a very popular boy who everyone liked.

“I also knew his mother Joan, who has now died, and his aunt, Brenda Fulford, who is 92 and still lives in Warwick. She would love to see her nephew’s name recorded on the town’s memorial.

“I was even assured that the Royal British Legion might be willing to fund an additional plaque if a proper application was put forward.

After primary school, Graham Gillingham won a scholarship to Leamington College with fellow Warwick boy Fred Stopps. Together the pair enlisted in the Royal Marines and in 1962 they saw active service at the start of Britain’s involvement in the war in Borneo.

Graham was temporarily transferred to Brunei on the north east coast of Borneo and it was there, on Christmas Eve, 1962, that he was accidentally shot when the gun of another Marine went off in a busy market place.

The Sultan of Brunei paid for his body to be cremated and his ashes sent back to his mother, who by that time had moved to Radford Semele.

Town clerk Derek Maudlin says he apologises for the delay in adding Mr Gillingham’s name, but he felt it would be wrong to add single names, almost as an “afterthought” to the memorial.

He said: “I am still investigating how new names can be added in a dignified and proper manner.”

But Mr Bradshaw, Mr Stopps and Mr O’Connell say time is running out for all those who remember “Gilly.”

Following Sunday’s service, Mr Bradshaw went back to the Warwick branch of the Royal British Legion and spoke in person to secretary Keith Talbot, who said he will happy to work with the town council to ensure Mr Gillingham’s name is added to the memorial in time for Remembrance Sunday next year.