Many have commented on this little watercolour that has hung in the main corridor of the Winsford Cottage Hospital for as long as any can remember.
It was painted in December 1915 by John Gilmour, a convalescent soldier. The paintings title “My Little Grey Home in the West” shows a fondness he must have had for the hospital during his stay.
We have managed to discover much about him.
The First World War
John was born in Bow, East London on 26 February 1882. He grew up to be a printer working for the Daily Mirror. When he was 23 he married his sweetheart, Flora, and they continued to live in Bow, raising two children. The First World War broke out on 1 August 1914 and only ten days later John, then aged 32, enlisted in the 17th Battalion, The London Regiment. After training his regiment was shipped to France and his company was sent on detachment to join the Worcester Regiment to get experience of being in the front line. Within hours of his arrival in the front line on 9 April 1915, he suffered severe injuries to his leg from a shell explosion. He was shipped back to England on 26 April and transported by train to hospital in Exeter, Devon. When he was finally on the road to recovery he was sent to convalesce at the Winsford Cottage Hospital. He painted the picture a few weeks before he was discharged on 21 December 1915.
He returned to his wife and children in Bow in time for Christmas 1915 but it is clear that he never recovered fully from his wounds. He was formally discharged from the army on 30 November 1916 and died only ten years later aged 44.