Researched & written by Lyn Rozier and Janice Steele
Gavin Ralston Mure Caldwell was born in Kent in 1897, but by 1901 his family had moved to Windlesham in Surrey. The family moved again to Bristol, where Gavin attended Bristol Grammar School and Clifton College. In 1914, he joined the Officer Training Corps and was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on 21 October 1914. He transferred to the Coldstream Guards in August 1916, and was sent to France in December of that year.
A war diary dated October 1918 shows Second Lieutenant Gavin Caldwell, 2nd Coldstream Guards, was wounded at the Battle of Cambrai, and died from his wounds on 9 October 1918 on reaching the dressing station.
The 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards’ Intelligence Summary for 8-9 October 1918 (TNA WO/95/1215) reads:
‘8th Trenches near RIBECOURT. The Battalion paraded at 10.00 a.m. and proceeded to trenches running North-West of MON PLAISIR FARM, near MASBIERES. 9th Trenches near MASBIERES. The Battalion paraded at 1.00 a.m. and marched to trenches West of SERANVILLIERS. The Battalion attacked at 4.30 a.m. and finally consolidated near CASTENIERES. Casualties:- Lieut G.R.M. CALDWELL – KILLED 3 O.R’s Killed, 4 O.R’s Wounded and 2 O.R’s Wounded (Remained at duty).’
Gavin Caldwell’s family had moved to Fetcham and his father W.H.McK. Caldwell was rector at Fetcham and officiated at St Mary’s Parish Church from November 1916 until April 1925. Gavin’s mother had a pair of candlesticks made to commemorate the loss of her son.
These candlesticks came to light again in 2008 when a lady who did not live locally came across them when clearing out a family home. Her brother had long been interested in militaria and had purchased them some 40 years earlier. They were inscribed in memory of a Lt Gavin R.M. Caldwell of the Coldstream Guards from his mother. The family carried out some research and realised that he was the son of Reverend Caldwell, a former rector of St Mary’s Church, and was remembered on Fetcham war memorial. She decided she would like to give them to the church on the understanding that they would be used at Remembrance Day services. She travelled down from Hertfordshire with her husband for Remembrance Day to see the candlesticks used.