Title - Cecil Douglas Gay

The Family | The Early Years | The Somme | Third Ypres | To Merville | Post-War

With the end of the war, life gradually returned to normal for the Gay family. Ernest had been awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgium) in February 1918 and three months later was posted to England as an officer instructor in flying/aerial combat. After his demobilization the following January, he joined his elder brother Will in running the family's farming business. Bert served with the R.G.A. on the Western Front until the end of the war and resumed his career as a chartered accountant with a London firm after he too was demobilized in January 1919. Frank was by then well-established as a surveyor. Emily had remained at Eastbrook End to help her mother, a responsibility taken over by Ethel when Emily married Lewis Eynon shortly after the war. Ethel had spent her own war years working at Windsor Castle gardens. Constance and Grace continued to teach, eventually working at the same school in Norwich.

Cecil returned to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1919 taking the Engineering Science Special parts 1 and 2 rather than the Mechanical Engineering tripos.

In 1924 he joined Alfred Herbert Ltd. and shortly afterwards founded with Axel Wickman the Coventry machine tool company of A. C. Wickman. Cecil was to remain with Wickmans until his retirement in 1945 to take up farming. His obituary published in a local newspaper referred to his having "played a major role in the development of the machine tool industry." During the Second World War he worked closely with the Ministry of Supply with responsibility for meeting the country's machine tool needs.

Cecil married Charlotte, the daughter of Arthur Rose, in 1930. The scale of Cecil's success in business can be gauged by his ability in 1938 to purchase "one of England's most beautiful small stately homes" for his family, which by now included a son and daughter.

Nailcote Hall, 12k Nailcote Hall was a 17th century country house which had been owned by the Lant family for over 300 years, and was bought by Cecil after the death of Miss Katherine Lant in 19381.

After his retirement from Wickmans, Cecil served for many years on the board of governors of Studley Agricultural College and as a magistrate at Coventry and Solihull. In 1962 he sold Nailcote Hall to Wickmans, but continued to live in the nearby village of Berkswell throughout the remainder of his life. In late life - as a widower - he married Rosa Nancy Plumb.

Cecil died in 1980, aged 85. His ashes were scattered in Salcombe Estuary close by the Gay family's old holiday home of "Rockside".


  1. Nailcote Hall is now a hotel, restaurant and country club. [back]


For their help in providing information and photographs for this account, I should like to thank David and Barbara Gay, Sue Proudfoot, Pamela Griffiths, John Mortimer (Old Caterhamians' Association) and Jonathan Smith (Trinity College Library, Cambridge).


"Memoirs of Cecil Douglas Gay", unpublished.
Ministry of Defence P/82925 (Capt. Cecil Douglas Gay).
TNA AIR76/178 (Lt. Ernest Alfred Gay).
TNA WO339/78408 (Lt. Herbert Henry Gay).
TNA WO339/62039 and AIR76/178 (2/Lt. Frederick Hollington Gay).
"The History of the East Lancashire Regiment in the Great War 1914-1919" edited by Major General Sir N. Nicholson (Littlebury Bros., Liverpool, 1936).
TNA WO95/2366 (War Diary, 11th Bn. East Lancs. Regt.).
TNA WO95/1498 and WO95/3061 (War Diary, 1st Bn. East Lancs. Regt.).
TNA WO95/1499 (War Diary, 1st Somerset Light Infantry).
TNA WO95/1814 (War Diary, 9th Bn. The Sherwood Foresters).
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register.
"Kelly's Handbook to the Titled Landed and Official Classes", various editions between 1947 and 1960.
"Kelly's Handbook", 1964 and 1967 editions.

© Andrew C Jackson 1999

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