Company Sergeant Major Sharrad Holland Gilbert (1868-1961)

Sharrad Holland Gilbert saw action in the Boer War and First World War, he became a Company Sergeant Major and a decorated war hero.

Company Sergeant Major Sharrad Holland Gilbert

10th November 1868 Sharrad Holland Gilbert was born in a small room over his father's chemist shop in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire.

1881 Sharrad left school at the age of 13, he would start a 7 year apprenticeship as a Hosier at a company called Crowe Truslove, and he would end up as an office clerk.

1886 He joined the First Volunteer Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.

1890s Sharrad became a member of the local Conservative Association, he would edit the group’s newsletters. His name appeared on a Boer War memorial tablet that was owned by the Hinckley Urban District Council, the memorial was hung in the Council offices along Station Road in Hinckley.

1899 The Boar War started, Sharrad applied to serve with the Leicestershire Regiment which was his current service company for the last 15 years, his application was rejected. Not being deterred, he would apply to join an unknown branch of the service and was accepted into the ranks of the Imperial Yeomanry 65th Squadron, 17th Battalion Leicestershire as a Trooper, he was issued with the service number of 11991. Sharrad would be in South Africa for 15 months fighting the Boers at Rhodesia, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, before being captured at Aberdeen in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) by the Boers. He managed to escape with other prisoners by over-powering the Guards.

1901 Sharrads service was terminated when the Imperial Yeomanry were recalled back to England. During the return journey he wrote an account of his time in the Imperial Yeomanry, these accounts would be compiled into a book called ‘Rhodesia and after’ and would later be published by Simpson Marshall.

He joined the 1st Volunteer Battalion as a Sergeant soon as he returned to Hinckley, his service number was 240682. He would remain in the Battalion for the next 7 years, until in 1908 when the unit was disbanded and the new Territorial Army was formed. Sharrad would be able to continue his service within the newly formed Territorial Army with the same service number at the rank of Colour Sergeant.

1914 Sharrad was sent to France and saw action in the Great War.

1916 He gained the rank of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, he would help to suppress the Easter Rising in Ireland.

1918 He transferred in to the Labour Corps (Service number 615194) and served in the occupation of the Rhineland.

1921 After serving 35 years in the Army and rising through the ranks to Company Sergeant Major, Sharrad would leave the service and would spend the remainder of his years at his home, De Montfort House along Britannia Road in Burbage. He became a recluse and during his old years he would become not only deaf, but blind as well.

Company Sergeant Major Sharrad was awarded seven service and campaign medals:

The medals of Company Sergeant Major Sharrad Holland Gilbert
The medals of Company Sergeant Major Sharrad Holland Gilbert

1940 Sharrad became a widower when his wife died, they did not have any children. From this point on he would live on his own for the remainder of his life.

11th March 1961 Sharrad fell in to his fire at home and suffered fatal burns, he would be discovered after a considerable amount of time by his neighbour. At the time of his death, he was 93 years old which made him the oldest resident of Burbage.

Sharrad was buried in St. Catherine’s churchyard, Burbage in an unmarked grave.

2004 The book ‘Rhodesia and after’ was republished which gives an account of Sharrad’s service in the Imperial Yeomanry during the Boer War.

2014 Sharrad’s seven medals were due to go under the hammer at London auctioneers Spink & Son, with a guide price of between £700-£900. The sale was halted when the Leicestershire Regimental Museum became the new owners.

2016 A campaign was started by the Burbage Heritage Group, to raise £4,500 for a cairn to be made and installed at this forgotten war hero’s burial location. The cairn headstone would be in the style of many British Military graves in South Africa.