Major Ernest Gardiner
is just possible that the Gardiner family was connected to the Venetian explorer
John Cabot, for a John Gardiner sailed with him to
in the late 15th century. Another John Gardiner was Warden of the
Merchant Venturers in 1626. In the 19th century the family
established a business - Gardiner & Sons - which manufactured trench
mortars, bombs and aeroplane parts during the Great War.
was born on 16th March 1880 in
. He was the son of Thomas Chapple Gardiner and Sarah Bishop Gardiner, of "Waratah",
, and husband of Kathleen Eleanor. He joined Clifton Rugby Club in 1900-01.
XV 1907-08. Back
Row (L-R): C.W. Baker, G.F. Matthews, E. Gardiner, R. Fedden, H.G.W. Prideaux, P.T. Rowe, F.J. Hannam. Middle Row: A.J. Gardner, F.T. Boucher, E.F. Eberle, E.J.G. Higham, E. Briggs, C.M. Welsby. On Ground: A.L. Weir, R.
Witchell, A. Gardiner, L.W.D. Wathen
father owned several ironmongery businesses in
called Gardiner & Sons Ltd. In 1972 the company merged with Haskins
Furniture to become Gardiner Haskins Homecentre, one of the largest stores in
. Ernest was an assistant in his father’s firm.
Gardiner family around the
turn of the century. (L-R)
Back Row: Ernest, Enid, Hubert, Edward Lucas. Seated: Agnes, Thomas Chapple,
, Ethel, Alfred
all, six family members represented the club. His
tossed a coin, with Ernest, to
decide who would stay home and help run the family business or go to war; as
happened so often at the time, a local woman, believing that he should have gone
to war, sent Alfred a white feather. Alfred later joined Harlequins and died in
joined the South Midland Royal Engineers (SMRE), 1st Field Company.
was killed at St Eloi, near
, during skirmishes between the first and second major battles in the area. He
has no known grave.
account of Ernest Gardiner
’s death was included in a letter
home from Clifton RFC team-mate JH (Harry) Savory. It says You will have heard by now of our misfortunes during that scrap at the
beginning of the week. (Richards and I were of course in for the first night as
we finished up the last spell.) The following morning the men bought back the
news of Gardiner’s death. I think it was from a bomb. We can still hardly
realize it and it is much too sad for me to try to write about just now. We all
feel rather mournful but of course have to keep ourselves and the men as
cheerful as possible under the circumstances. Cyril Hosegood wrote his people
the following day and by now I think they must have heard about it. Please on no
account let this letter be the means of their getting the news. Then you will
have heard too that Owen has left here. He got hit across the nose, thank God it
is not serious.
Gardiner is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial along with fellow
player A.E.J. Collins.
Gardiner is included in the World War 1 Memorial chapter of For College, Club
& Country – A History of Clifton Rugby Football Club, printed by MX
Publishing in 2009. ISBN