Private/Major Harold Gilliat(M.C.)
Born. Leeds, 24th January, 1888.
Died. Leeds, 1961, Age 73.
Harold Gilliat, son of Arthur & Gertrude Gilliat of Allerton Lodge, Moor Allerton, Leeds, was educated at Rugby school and later Leeds university were he studied maths, physics, chemistry, general engineering and dyeing.
On completing his education in 1908 worked in the family chemical business of E.G.Jepson, Crown Point Road Leeds.
After the outbreak of war, age 26, he enlisted as a Private in the "Pals" on the 9th of September 1914. Five months later, on the 4th of February 1915, he was offered and accepted a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (The Leeds Rifles ). His promotion to Lieutenant came on 1st of June 1916 with the temporary rank of Captain "whilst specially employed". This extra rank was given when he was permanently attached to D company, Special Section, Royal Engineers. These "Special Sections" were responsible for gas warfare and tunnelling in the trenches, so his attachment and rapid promotion was obviously due to his academic and highly technical background. He remained with the Royal Engineers throughout the war, most of his time spent in the front line trenches.
A chance meeting with a French Army Doctor, a Captain Bonnamour, and a casual invitation to visit his Paris home, is how Harold Gilliat met is future wife Jeanne, the sister of Captain Bonnamour. She was 17 years old and nursing in a French Army hospital. They met, fell in love and were later married in Paris in 1919.
Harold left the Army in 1919 as a Major and returned with his new bride to Leeds where he continued to work in the family business until his retirement.
He became a well respected Justice of the peace on the Leeds bench, vice consul for the Netherlands, and a life long member of the Leeds Club and Alwoodley Golf Club.
During the Second World War, Jeanne now having seen her home country invaded for the second time, voluntarily acted as a translator for the French troops and the wounded who were hospitalised in and around Leeds. She later became the civil representative for General De Gaulle, and for this work was awarded the French LEGION OF HONOUR.
We are indebted to H. Gilliat's Daughter who has donated a vast amount of letters, documents and photographs in her Father's memory.