Herbert (Bert) Gayler – Olympian

Gayler, Herbert Henry, resident Willesden, enlisted in the 25th County of London Cyclist Battalion at Fulham (740705). He died of wounds in Waziristan, N.W.F. India, 23 Jun 1917.

He was born in Chiselhurst, Kent in 1882, the son of Henry Gayler, a coachman and Annie (nee Palmer). In the 1901 census Herbert is listed as a Barrister’s Clerk, and in 1911 as a Clerk Stenographer.



The Funeral of HH Gayler at Kandiwam, Waziristan N.W.F. India

Gayler was a prominent and office-bearing member of the Polytechnic Cycling Club (PCC), which was part of the Regent Street Polytechnic Institution (which went on to become the Polytechnic of Central London and is now the University of Westminster). There are mentions of his racing achievements in almost every monthly issue of the Polytechnic Magazine between 1991 and 1914, the year when he enlisted in the 25th County of London Cyclist Bn. Gayler was also an Olympian, one of four PCC members who formed part of the twelve member team that represented England in the 1912 Olympics. A Gayler Memorial Cup was instituted after his death, for a race which took place every year between 1919 and 1969.

The esteem within which Gayler was held among his peers at the Polytechnic is evident from the obituaries and letters of regret in the PCC Gazette as well as the Polytechnic Magazine that followed news of his demise. [Polytechnic Magazine, July 1917]

The University archive has a collection of old newsletters and cycling club gazettes which mention Gayler or have letters from him sent while he was a soldier. They kept an active service register during the war, and published a Roll of Honour of soldiers killed.

Naheed Bilgrami – MA student at the University of Westminster.
University of Westminster Archives – PCC 11/2/2

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BBC Countryfile Remembrance Sunday Special

I had previously blogged about the Ride to the Somme. On the 13th the BBC Countryfile program was dedicated to Remembrance day featuring the Ride to the Somme. Bicycle battalions were mentioned but the main focus was the Army Cycle Corps. It was an interesting program and I would recommend watching it.

The episode is available to watch for UK residents via the BBC iplayer app on Apple or Android devices, smart TV’s, or via the internet at :-

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New book – Dreams and Realities

Based on a True Story

DREAMS AND REALITIES by Jonathan L. Trapman

Jonathan Trapman presents an epic journey within this heptalogy (series of 7) and dynastic tale taking its starting point from a true story his forebear initiated, some 230 years ago. An action changing the course of history.

Through the lens of seven individual journeys, truths, realities and all kinds of deception are revealed. The hero in each confronts the very tenet upon which humanity’s journey is mapped out upon.

Moving through time, space and beyond what we believe we know, clues as to what lies behind our existence and its purpose are discovered. The key, the quest of many, awaits a master locksmith on the road to freedom.

See the real life of Capt. Albert Henry William TRAPMANN / TRAPMAN  former Capt. / Adjutant with the 26th Middlesex and then the 25th London (Cyclists) Battalion.

Purchase the book


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25th London Bn. on the BBC

This week the 25th County of London Cyclist Battalion featured on the BBC program “Inside the factory : Bicycles” (Series 2, no.4). At the 24 minute mark several photos from the 25th London Bn. website were used, including two in which my grandfather appeared, not surprisingly as they were from his photo album. The 25th Londons are also acknowledged in the end credits. This is one of the featured photographs, my grandfather the 5th from the right.


The show is still available to view for UK residents on the BBC iPlayer website at :-
It is also available to view on the BBC iPlayer apps for ipad & android (tablet & phone).

Apart from the short section on the use of bicycles in the military, the show as a whole is interesting  and worth watching.



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Military Bicycles in the Great War

A new book has been published about Military Bicycles in the Great War. The author has included information gleaned from the 25th London Cyclist website, as well as the 1932 Londons book..

Military Bicycles in the Great War

When World War I began, the bicycle was still fairly new—the big-wheeled pennyfarthing had only recently given way to the vastly more nimble and speedy safety bicycle, and while bicycles and bicycling were no longer the fad they had been in the 1890s, they were nonetheless still an indicator of up-to-date modern life. It’s thus no surprise that bicycles were quickly pressed into service at the outbreak of hostilities. At a moment when armies across Europe were still practicing cavalry charges with horses, and it was far from clear what role motorized transportation would play in the war, bicyclists were called upon to play a variety of roles by armies on both sides, including as messengers, scouts, and guides.

Bad Teeth No Bar, which takes its name from an advertisement asking cyclists to volunteer, is a beautifully illustrated appreciation of the role played by bicycles in the Great War. Full of color photographs of vintage bikes and their riders, illustrating accounts of their long-forgotten exploits, it illuminates a little-remembered aspect of the war and celebrates a set of unsung heroes. Perfect for vintage bicycle enthusiasts and military history buffs alike, Bad Teeth No Bar is a remarkable centennial celebration.

The book is available from booksellers including –
University of Chicago Press (US)
Booktopia (Australia)

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Ride to the Somme


Ride to the Somme will commemorate the cycling soldiers that fought and fell during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 as they ride 250 miles over 3 days. The Ride will commence on Wednesday 31st August and will culminate at The Thiepval Memorial. When cyclists enlist for the ride they will be asked to select a battalion that they wish to represent.

It will be a fund raising ride for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, is the UK’s oldest national tri-service charity. At the outbreak of World War One, the Government called on it to take care of the families of the Armed Forces going to the Front. Ride to the Somme is a fundraising event with money raised helping servicemen and women, veterans and their families in need following present day conflicts.

It is their intention to lay a wreaths at Pozieres and Thiepval. Serving and former soldiers of the 25th London Cyclists fought in France, by either being either attached to or by being formally transferred to other battalions.

25th London Cyclists I have recorded at Pozieres are –
Cecil Ernest HUMPHREYS
Harold Arthur PACKER
Thomas Augustus PARIS
Charles William RUSSELL
Percy Charles SOMERSET (buried at Lewisham from wounds at Pozieres)

25th London Cyclists I have recorded at Thiepval are –

For more information – http://www.ridetothesomme.org.uk/

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The Battalion’s 1916 Christmas Card

Recently a new item surfaced on Ebay, the battalion’s 1916 Christmas card, which no doubt will be added to Russell’s collection. I thought initially the artist would be Edgard Phillips who penned a number of drawings whilst in India. However it appears that both drawings are signed “AGC”. I scanned the “C” soldiers and there were three with those initials :-
CONGDON, Archibald G.;   CONSTANTINE, A. George;   COURT, Alfred G.



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