Gilbert McLoughlin was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 19th August 1896, one of eight children to Charles and Isabella McLoughlin. Being a fishing port, it is likely that Charles was involved in the industry, and it is no surprise that Gilbert and his siblings followed suit.
When war came to Europe, his skills at sea led to him being brought into the Royal Naval Reserve, and indeed Gilbert joined up on 20th March 1916. His service records show that he stood 5ft 2.5ins (1.59m) tall, had brown eyes and a sallow complexion, and had tattoos on his left arm.
Trimmer McLoughlin was based at HMS Pekin, a shore establishment in Grimsby, from which he would have served on ships patrolling the Lincolnshire coast. He remained posted in his home town until the end of 1916, at which point he moved down the coast to HMS Ganges, the naval base in Ipswich.
Gilbert made a further move in July 1917, when he was posted to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly crowded that summer, and he was billeted in temporary accommodation set up in the barracks’ Drill Hall.
On the night of 3rd September, Chatham came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Trimmer McLoughlin was among those to be killed that night. He was just 20 years of age.
Gilbert McLoughlin was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.
Gilbert’s older brother Joseph McLoughlin was also a victim of the First World War. As the conflict began, he continued his work as a trawlerman, although the role of his ship – the Kilmarnock – now also included elements of mine location.
On the afternoon of the 22nd September 1914, the Kilmarnock left Grimsby on a routine trip. She was around thirty miles offshore when the captain spotted floating mines ahead.
The skipper put out a buoy to mark the position, and intended returning to port to report the matter to the Admiralty authorities, but seeing some naval vessels in the distance he made towards them instead with the object of reporting.
Whilst doing so an explosion occurred amidships, and the vessel was blown into two parts, which sank immediately.
The skipper was blown to pieces on the bridge and the chief engineer badly injured.
The naval vessels, attracted by the explosion, hurried to the spot, picked up the wounded engineer, mate, and one member of the crew.Boston Guardian: Saturday 26th September 1914
Joseph was one of the six crewmen to be killed in the incident. He was just 19 years of age.