|John Gilks, thanks to Susan Madden, OBHS|
He left Dunedin for the Great War on the 26th of April, 1917 as part of the 25th Reinforcements for the NZEF. He spent some time as a drill instructor at Sling Camp, the New Zealand depot on Salisbury Plain. On October 17, 1917, his application for front line service was granted with drafting to the First Battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment.
On January 20th, 1918, the Otagos returned to the front line. Improvements to trenches they took over - especially drainage - could not be done due to the wet weather. German raids took place on the evening of the 21st and, according to the Official History of the Regiment:
"At 1.30 on the following morning the enemy was encountered in considerably greater strength. A total of approximately 100, in four parties, attempted a raid on the left of the line held by 8th Company of the 2nd Battalion, under cover of a preliminary bombardment. Only one of the four parties succeeded in getting through the wire, and none of them reached out trenches, the attack being beaten off by Lewis gun, rifle fire and bombs, aided by the artillery and machine gun barrages which came down promptly in response to a call from the line. In this action the combined bombing efforts of Sergt. Travis and Sergt. A. Maclean, the latter of whom remained at his post though severely wounded, assisted very materially in effecting the repulse of the raiders. There were eight enemy dead in front of our wire, and our casualties numbered one killed and three wounded."
It is very possible that the "one killed" was twenty year old John Gilks, died of wounds "somewhere in France."
|Northern Cemetery, Dunedin|
FOR THE EMPIRE'S CAUSE.
GILKS.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Sergeant John Gilks, who died of wounds, "Somewhere in France," on January 21 1918.
No one you loved was by your side,
To hear your last faint sighs;
Or whisper just one loving word
Before you closed your eyes.
But the saddest part is yet to come,
When our heroes all return;
Mothers will be looking for their darling boys,
But our Boy will ne'er return.
—Inserted by his sorrowing parents, sister, and brother.
GILKS.—In loving memory of our dear cousin, Sergeant John Gilks, who died of wounds, "Somewhere in France," on the 21st January, 1918.
We looked for his safe return,
And longed to clasp his hand,
But God has postponed tho meeting—
Twill be in a better land.
—Inserted by his loving grandma, E. Gilks. cousins Laura and Henry Simpson (Maungatua).
GILKS. —In loving memory of our dear cousin, Sergeant Jack Gilks, who died of wounds, "Somewhere in France," January 21, 1918.
As long as life and memory last,
We will always think of thee.
—Inserted by his cousins, Leslie, Stanley. Winnie, and Edna Hey.
Memorials continued to be placed in Dunedin newspapers up to 1929. In 1928:
GILKS.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Sergeant John Gilks, who died from wounds in Belgium on January 21, 1918.
A light is from our household gone,
A voice we loved is stilled,
A place is vacant at our hearth
Which never can be filled.
—Inserted by his loving mother, father, sister, and brother.
and in 1929:
FOR THE EMPIRE’S CAUSE.
GILKS —In loving memory of our dear son and brother. Sergeant John Gilks,who died from wounds In Belgium on January 21, 1918.
There is someone who misses you sadly.
And finds the years long since you went;
There is someone who thinks of you daily.
But tries to be brave and content.
—lnserted by his loving mother, father, sister, and brother,