WILLIAM VENTRY GAYER

Bill Gayer (1882-1917) was born on 24 April 1882 at Prahran. He was the youngest son of Edward Ventry Gayer and Mary Hester Hawdon (nee Chambers). He was the brother of Oswald Noel Ventry (GGS 1895-97). Bill was admitted to GGS on 16 February 1895 and remained at the School until 1898. In 1904 he went overseas, and it was probably in this period he worked with his brother in South Africa. he returned to Australia and married Jessie Stuart Ramsden of Brung Brungle, Wannon on 2 June 1909 at Brung Brungle. He had one son, Edward Ventry "Pat" Gayer, born 11 March 1910 at Skeat Bank, Hamilton.

Bill enlisted as 9307 Gunner W.V. Gayer in the 4th Field Artillery Brigade in September 1915 with 'Tim" Ware and Keith Urquhart, amongst others. They embarked for Egypt onboard HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 18 November 1915, the same ship as Stanley Briggs, William Haines, Tim Ware and Keith Howe (all reunion attendees) arriving at Heliopolis just before Christmas just before Christmas, and then went on to France in March 1916. They were in the 10th and 11th Batteries at different times, having lost Keith Urquhart to the 8th Light Horse while still in Egypt, and along the way picking up Keith Howe. They were at Armentieres, then Bullecourt, Messines, and Passchendaele in the Ypres sector.

He was promoted Bombardier shortly before he was awarded the Military Medal, the citation for which reads, in part, 
'for conspicuous gallantry... on the 9th October 1917 when in charge of a party conveying ammunition to his battery near Zonnebeke his party came under heavy shell fire. Bombardier Gayer's horse was killed under him, the next driver and his two horses were also killed, and though badly shaken, Bombardier Gayer took another horse and continued his work, and by his courage, persevereance and example succeeeded in delivering ammunition to his guns at a very critical period."

He died of wounds on 1st November 1917, at the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, having been wounded earlier that day. He was buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetary, Belgium. 

Bill's widow Jessie later married Mr William Frank Cockburn Mercer, of Springwood near Hamilton in Western Victoria and they had two sons, John and Peter, who attended GGS, as did their step-brother, EV 'Pat' Gayer.

Geelong Grammarians A Biographical Register Volume One 1855-1913, p.525
Geelong Grammarians at the Great War, p.23-24

Gayer W.V.