Gerhard Arnulf Klouman, Private 15/1215 1st Leeds Pals
Gerhard Arnulf Klouman is not a name you expect to find on the roll of the British Army, particularly during a war against Germany. But Gerhard was actually Norwegian, born in Christiana in 1898, the fourth child of Fredrik and Marie Klouman. Despite the other three children having been born in England, in Wallasey, the whole family retained their Norwegian citizenship.
The only record I have found is the 1901 Census, which records the eldest child as Helen, born 1890, followed by Herming (possibly meant to be Henning) born a year later, and Frederick two years after that. Despite these three all being born in Wallasey there is no sign of anything in the 1891 Census. As Gerhard was born in Norway the mother, at least, must have gone back, but then returned to England in time for 1901. By 1911 they have disappeared again.
When war was declared in 1914 Gerhard was apparently 16, officially too young. But his name appears on the list of applicants to join the Pals on 4th September 1914, when his address is given as 10 Robb Street, Birstall. He appears again on the full roll, where he has been posted to B Company, 7th Platoon. There is then no further record of him until his death. He would have followed the usual route for the Pals, training at Colsterdale, where he actually joined them, then Ripon and Fovant, before sailing to Egypt and the Suez Canal, where he landed on 22nd December 1915. This is shown on his Medal Index Card, as is the award of the 1914-15 Star for service overseas before the end of 1915.
On 1st July 1916 Gerhard, now probably 18, and officially old enough to be in the Pals, if not actually over there, was one of the men who rose from their trenches to face the German machine guns, and one of the men who fell. His body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. In addition to the Star he was also awarded subsequently the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. So Gerhard was a foreigner who spent most of his short life in this country, and eventually gave his life for it.
Ancestry – Medal Index Card, Census
Researcher: Peter Taylor
- All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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