Talbot, Gilbert Seymour Wyndham

Gilbert Talbot was the second child and only son of the Right Reverend Neville Stuart Talbot DD, MC, sometime Bishop of Pretoria; his mother was Cecil Mary Talbot, the daughter of William Seymour Eastwood, of West Stoke House, Chichester. The couple married in 1918, but Talbot’s mother died in giving birth to him. He was the nephew of Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot (H1904-10), Rifle Brigade, in whose memory “Toc H” was founded by Neville Talbot in the First World War and after whom Neville’s son was named.

Talbot lived in South Africa before coming to Winchester, and during his time in the school was Secretary of Archaeological Society, Prefect of Choir and a CSM in the JTC.   He got his 2nd XI colours at cricket and captained 2nd XI soccer team.  Cross country running and track events were his forte, running second in Junior Steeplechase in 1937, winning Senior steeplechase in 1939 in the record time of 36 minutes 37 seconds.   The following term he won both the Mile and the Half Mile.    A keen historian, he was awarded an Exhibition at Trinity College, Oxford but went straight into the army, joining the Rifle Brigade, the regiment in which his father had served in the Boer War, and in which his uncle Gilbert had served.

He was gazetted to the 1st Battalion, the Rifle Brigade (1RB), in 1941, and went out to the Mediterranean in September. Wounded in March 1942, and again at El Alamein in November, he went, on recovery, to Cairo, where he served as an ADC to General Sir Maitland Wilson. Talbot rejoined his battalion in August 1943, and was with them in Italy until they were recalled to England. He went with them to Normandy on June 1944 as a Captain, in command of HQ Company.

Talbot was killed by shell-fire on the night of June 20th, near Balleroy:   “June 20th 1944: Weather improved but still cloudy.    2200 ‘B’ Echelon shelled. Major Dorrian-Smith, Captain Talbot and Lieutenant Connor killed, two ORs killed and nine wounded. One half-track and two 3-tonners destroyed.”

An account in the regimental magazine also describes what happened:   “It was during the time at Pont Mulot that ‘B’ Echelon, away back near Balleroy, was heavily shelled at night. ‘A’ Company was there re-forming and re-equipping, and Francis Dorrien-Smith had just taken over command. Unhappily, Francis and James Caesar were killed by one of the first shells, and shortly afterwards Gilbert Talbot, commanding HQ Company, was also killed. It was a desperately tragic affair, and the Battalion suffered a loss of exceptionally able and experienced officers, whom it will be indeed difficult to replace.”

Killed at the age of twenty-two, Talbot lies in grave 9.2 of Bayeux Eastern Cemetery. His housemaster wrote of him that “Gilbert Talbot had shown himself a first-class soldier, and the tributes paid to his ability, tirelessness, and the unremitting devotion to the interests of his men will have come as no surprise to those who knew him as a boy”.  (The Times)

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Talbot
  • Forenames or initials: Gilbert Seymour Wyndham
  • House: A
  • Years in School: 1935-1940
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: OC HQ Company, 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade
  • Date of Birth: 31st August 1921
  • Date of Death: 20th June 1944
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner B1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Bayeux Eastern Cemetery: Grave 9.2