Battalion 3rd Battalion
Regiment Yorkshire Regiment
Died: 16th August 1917
Buried Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium
Sir Robert Benyon Neville Gunter was born on the 4th August 1871, the 5th child and eldest son of Sir Robert and Dame Jane Margaret Gunter at Micklethwaite, Collingham. Sir Robert (senior) was the first baronet and had been MP for Knaresborough (1884-5) and Barkstone Ash (1885-).
Sir Neville was educated at Farnborough School and then joined the army - a natural career for someone whose father and uncle had both served in the Crimean war. He joined the Yorkshire Regiment (his father's regiment) and served as a Lieutenant from 1891 to 1895 and a captain from 1895 to 1903. For five years he was aide-de-camp to Col Sir James Legard of the East Yorkshire Volunteer Infantry Brigade.
From the 23rd March 1900 to the 16th Jan 1903, Sir Neville served in the Boer War in South Africa. During that time he was a Railway Staff Officer and was then seconded for service with the Remount Depot in South Africa and became a staff office to the Assistant Inspector of Remounts. In 1902, he was mentioned in despatches for his services in South Africa and was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal (with clasps for Cape Colony and Orange Free State) and the King's South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.
In 1902, he married Clara Lydia Pritchard-Barrett (the widow of John Pritchard Barrett) in South Africa and in 1904 their son, Ronald Vernon Gunter was born. A year later, in 1905, Sir Robert (senior) died and Sir Neville became the second baronet.
Despite his continuing army career, Sir Neville had very strong ties with Collingham and was a JP in Wetherby and a local benefactor. In 1907 he paid for the repair of the church tower of St. Oswald's church in Collingham and for a new peal of bells for the church tower.
His army career continued with his appointment, in 1912, to command the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and a year later he was promoted from Major and Honorary Lieutenant Colonel to Lieutenant Colonel. At the start of the First World War he was mobilised but his tenure of command expired and his retirement beckoned in August 1916 but he was granted permission to retail his rank. His sense of service prompted him to write to the War Office to volunteer for continued service and he joined the Army Special List of Officers and he wrote to the War Office to accept a post following his retirement.
Sir Neville's step-son, John Oscar Pritchard-Barrett, was also a serving officer being a Lieutenant in the same regiment (3rd Yorkshire regiment) before his transfer to the 2nd Battalion. John was killed on the 15th June 1915 and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
On the 17th May 1917 Sir Neville arrived in Boulogne and became a PB Officer in the VIII Corps. and a month later he transferred to the 5th Army area. On the 4th July 1917, while he was out riding, a shell burst near his horse and Sir Neville was shocked and was admitted to number 10 Casualty Clearing Station and then to 45 Field Ambulance. Lieut Acton Davis of the Royal Army Medical Corp reported: "Lieut Col Sir Neville Gunter was brought into No 10 C.C.S. on 4/7/17 and was admitted to the Officers Ward under my care. A shell had burst near him that evening and he was slightly dizzy and shaky while in the Officers Club at Poperinghe and so was brought to this station. At the end of 12 hours he was perfectly normal but in view of his age was kept in hospital for a weekend and was perfectly fit for duty when discharged." However another report suggests that he may not have been discharged to duty until the 11th July 1917.
The report of this injury perhaps have led to some of the confusion surrounding his death on the 16th August 1917. The Wetherby News of the 31st August 1917 reported that "he was thrown from his horse by the bursting of a shell on or about the 8th August. He was removed to hospital suffering from concussion, from which he later appeared to be recovering nicely. On the evening of the 15th he retired to bed, bidding his batman “good night”, but on the latter going to call him next morning he found Sir Nevill in an unconscious condition. He at once called the hospital doctor, but death took place about five minutes later, and was attributed to a clot of blood on the brain." He had been attended by Lieut J.E. Evans of the M.O.R.C. USA attached to the 45th Field Ambulance who stated: "I was called on August 16th 1917 to attend Lt.Col. Sir R.B.Gunter, Bart, at the Officers' Club, Poperinghe. There I found him in an unconscious condition, very cyanotic and breathing stentorously. In my opinion he was suffering from an apopletic attack. I left him to get a car, in which to evacuate him. He expired on my re-entering the door. I at once notified the Town Major of Poperinghe who took charge of the remains. I am almost certain there was no post mortem examination held."
Sir Neville held a great estate in London and his widow at once tried to find the details of his death so she could gain probate to take over the estate. However within 5 months, she had also died and the baronetcy passed to the young Ronald Vernon Gunter.
Sir Robert Benyon Neville Gunter is buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 13308
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
First World War Officer's Service Records WO339/64498 The National Archives.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and Burial Reports
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