Jack Montfort Stanley Gardner.

. MR JACK MONTFORT STANLEY GARDNER was the son of the Rector of Huntingdon. He was at the time at St Johns College, Cambridge, where he had some military training in the University Officers Training Corps.

From Peterborough Standard 17/10/1914 under a heading "The Hunts. Cyclist Battalion." orders for Sunday (< 17/10/1914)  gave the following change of company responsibility for the officers, it was also stated that these changes were by no means permanent.   Lieutenant  J. M. Gardner to be posted To D Company.

7/8/14 - Good - Bye - Territorials leave Huntingdon.  Since the beginning of the week the headquarters of the Hunts Cyclist Territorials at Huntingdon has been seen of the greatest activity, and many recruits were accepted. The whole of the two Huntingdon companies were paraded on Tuesday evening, and again on Wednesday previous to the church parade. Further equipment, including trenching tools - a sort of combination of small pick and spade - was issued, and the whole of the men and their equipment were carefully inspected. Early this (Thursday) morning they were paraded and Marched to the Huntingdon Great North Region Station, ready for conveyance to their appointed station. Soon after 8.00 the railway station was surrounded by a large crowd. The Earl of Sandwich, in uniform, arrived by motor, and Mrs. Howard Coote and party were present in their car and Mrs. Barkley had also driven to the station. At 8:30 the train arrived, partly filled by the St. Neots contingent, under Lt. K. Hunnybun. The engine drew out and coupled on to the luggage vans standing in the dock and these were backed onto the front of the train. Meanwhile the two Huntingdon companies had arrived singing loudly and had been welcomed by cheering from the crowd. Safely in the trying the greater part of the "terriers" removed their coats, while at least two heads were hanging out of each open window and other faces were pressed against the glass. The shunting of the luggage was not yet complete and the interval was spent in the singing of "are we downhearted?" And popular songs learnt at Skegness during the recent camp and the shouting of "good - byes" to relatives and friends, who were either lining the railings of the up platform, or standing on the down platform at the carriage doors. At 8:40, when the train began to move, handkerchiefs were waved from the windows and both soldiers and crowd re doubled their cheers, which were continued until last of the train had passed under the bridge. The officers in charge were Captains M. Barkley, and A. R. Lowe, and Lieuts. J. M. S. Gardner, while Captain Cook joined the battalion later.

7-1-1916                       "SAVED FROM THE PERSIA"

"In the list of saved from the torpedoed P & O liner Persia appears the name of Second Lieutenant J. M. Gardner.  There is little doubt that this is Mr. J. M. S. Gardner, son of the Rev. W.R. Gardner  late rector of Huntingdon.  Mr. Gardner, who was a Captain in the Hunts. Cyclist,  stationed at Filey. recently transferred to the Indian Army.  Writing to one of the Churchwardens of St. Mary's Huntingdon a few days ago the Rev. W. R Gardner mentioned that his son was about to start for India, and was expecting to spend his Christmas in the neighbourhood of Malta."


7-1-1916 = Hunts County News.          "Lieut. GARDNER SAFE"

"It was with a painful shock that his friends in Huntingdon learned that Lieut. J. M. S. Gardner was one of the passengers on the Persia, which was torpedoed off Crete and sunk with the loss of some 400 lives.  Fortunately, when the list of survivors was published on Monday, it was discovered with relief that he had been saved.  Lieut. Gardner is the third son of the Rev. W.R. Gardner, until recently vicar of St. Mary's and rector of All Saints', Huntingdon.  He went to Durham school, where he obtained an exhibition, and was until last year at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he had some military training in the University Officers' Training Corps.  He is a great athlete and possesses many trophies gained in sport.  At his last school sports, at Durham, in 1913, he took six first prizes, and he holds the record for the highest number of points ever obtained at the school sports. He is a great Rugby footballer, having played for Richmond.  When the Hunts. Cyclist battalion was inaugurated he became one of the first Lieutenants, and was subsequently promoted to the rank of captain.  Just recently he reverted to a Lieutenant to join the regular army, and he was on his way to his regiment in India when the Persia was sunk."


“The Rev. W.R. Gardner, late rector of Huntingdon, sends us an extract from a letter he has received from his son, Lieut. J. M. S. Gardner, of the India Army, describing his experiences when the Persia was torpedoed.  Lieut. Garner was on his way to India to take up his new appointment in the Indian Army, to which he was nominated by the University of Cambridge. Prior to that he was with the Hunts. Cyclists, in which he attained the rank of Captain, and he was an extremely popular officer.  Lieut. Gardner was always great at diving, an expert swimmer and probably he owes his life to these attainments.

Writing from Alexandria he says:- “ I had a most wonderful sleep and am feeling much fitter, now. I suppose I must try now to describe what happened on ship.  I last wrote on the ship.  We all came down in driblets to lunch.  I got down about 1.5 on the 30th, and ordered an anchovy paste.  It was brought, and I was just in the middle of it, when there was a resounding thud and a lurch to the port side, the side on which my table was.  Everyone knew exactly what it was, and everyone rushed to their cabins for life-belts, there was no disturbance, just every one making room for the ladies to get out first.  I got mine and came up on the deck another way.  When I reached the deck the ship had taken a huge list to port.  I went up to the starboard side to see if the boats could be got down, after disposing of my life belt, I got up, saw it was useless, but got a life-belt on, which someone from the top deck hurled at me.  After that the boat heaved over more, and I slipped down to the port, and took a running dive.

“ Thank God, I can dive.  I came up as soon as I could and just in time to seize a rope which fastened on to a boat which somehow had been launched with success.  Two men were in it and pulling for all they were worth to get clear of the wreck.  The two huge funnels came gradually rolling over, and I thought that they had got me for certain. Slower and slower straight on top of me they bore down, but through some unknown reason there was a lurch and the funnels came within three feet of me!  The water must have rushed into the furnace, and while I looked at the wreck, a column a column of hot black smoke came up and blackened, and, for a while, practically suffocated me.  However, by that time I had got hold of the side of the boat and gripped like a vice.  After a quarter of an hour someone heave me into the boat which was overcrowded, and I bailed for half an hour, until I was violently ill and sea sick.  Then I nursed and bathed a poor girl who was badly cut head.  She swooned I remembered and went delirious, but she’s all right now – a Danish girl I believe.”

“Then we pulled away from the wreck picking up all women we saw with the boat over full and an awful low moan rose as we steered towards three other boat and made an even distribution of survivors.  I went into another boat and we tied together and feared the awful night which followed – tossed about in soaking clothes, a bitter wind and crowded boats, within our boat, three – fourths not English.  As dusk came, a boat came in sight, but there was a bang, and the devils torpedoed her.  Gun fire followed as black night crept on.  The whole time no one had seen a sign of the submarine.  Daylight came with the four boats tied together.  A boat passed, but did not come.  I believe she was being chased.  We were 300 miles away from the nearest land.  All day we were tossed about with a biscuit for 48 persons for goodness knows how long.”

“I fell asleep for the first time and was woken up by shouts of ‘a boat, a ship, thank God!’ It was about 7.30 p.m. then on the 31st British seamen, I should think they were – fine, truly fine men.  They gave us their cabins, their clothes, and their very food, and brought us to spend a New year’s Day at this place.  We got to Alexandria, and all we were met by was an ass of a man asking whether we had any tobacco or shells to declare! "

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. . Martyn Smith