Old Coathamians of World War One

Gerald Arthur PAXTON

Lieutenant, 17 Squadron, Royal Air Force,
Formerly of the Royal Sussex Regiment.

Born 21 March 1894,
Died 10 August 1918, aged 24 years.

Buried in Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston,
Greece, Grave A.134.

Lieutenant Paxton had transferred at some stage from the infantry to become an aviator. His is one of 682 Commonwealth graves in this cemetery. It is currently not known how he met his death.

The Royal Air Force came into being on 1 April 1918, formed from an amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. With the Ottoman Empire allied with Germany, No. 17 Squadron was based in Macedonia, and at the time of Lieutenant Paxton’s death was engaged in reconnaissance and artillery spotting on the Bulgarian border.

Gerald Arthur Paxton was born in Eaglescliffe, County Durham, the son of Alfred Reed Paxton and Ada J. Paxton. His mother is named as his guardian in the school Register, as his father, who had ‘managed a cycle depot’ in Thornaby, had died young in the mid-1890s. Gerald had an older sister, Elizabeth, and the family lived at 3, Lobster Road, Redcar. Gerald had attended Coatham Council School before winning a Foundation Scholarship to attend Coatham Grammar School. He started school in September 1905 but only stayed for three terms, leaving when he was 12. However, the school magazine of May 1911 notes him playing football for the Old Boys’ team (he was its top scorer) and he was the secretary of the team, living then at 75, Queen Street, Coatham. He became a bank clerk at the National Provincial Bank, and his sister taught at a local council school. His mother had moved to Claude Avenue, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough at the time of Gerald’s death.