Gayler, Private Herbert Henry (1881-1917), cyclist and Olympian

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Gayler, Private Herbert Henry (1881-1917), cyclist and Olympian

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  • Bert Gayler

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1881-23 Jun 1917

History

Cyclist, Service No. 1887, No. 8 Platoon, 2/25th London Regt. No. 2 Coy., 1/25th London Regt. B. Coy., 1/25th London Regt. 5th Platoon.

He succeeded in joining the 25th London Regiment at the end of November 1914, having been rejected several times on account of his eyes. Early in 1916 he went with his Battalion to India and died from wounds inflicted during a fight with insurgents on the NW frontier in the Waziristan campaign. Obituaries feature in the various Poly publications of the time, with comments such as: "He was a real brick, willing to do a good turn for everyone."
At the end of the war, it was proposed by the Poly Cycling Club to establish a Memorial Trophy in Gayler's name:

"It will of course be impossible to ever replace Bert Gayler in the hearts of those who had the luck to work with him and share his companionship, but it would seem very desirable that stpes should now be taken to show our appreciation of his good work by endeavouring to perpetuate his memory for all time by means of a Memorial Trophy bearing his name.... Is not the time ripe for an "Open 12" on the North Road, and would it not be well to associate Bert Gayler's name with a classic "open" on the road he loved so much?"

By July 1919 the Gayler Memorial Fund had raised £60-4-6 and the conditions of the Trophy had been finalised:
The Trophy shall be named 'The Gayler Memorial Trophy' and it shall be a perpetual Trophy in memory of all the Club members who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914-1918. It was to be awarded annually, to the rider who covers the greatest distance in a twelve-hour unpaced road ride on a single machine. The competition was open to all amateur members of the PCC and other cyling clubs. The first winner, on 23 August 1919, was M G Selbach.

Bert Gayler joined the Polytechnic Cycling Club in 1909, becoming Hon General Secretary in 1913. In 1909 Gayler completed the "50" in 2h30m1s; in 1914 he completed the "50" in 2h19m30s with an average speed of 21.5 miles per hour. His last "50" was an army event, promoted by his Battalion in which he made the fastest time, being attired in full army uniform and marching boots. His time was 2h49m54s. Gayler's record for the Poly was the "12" at 223 1/4 miles (unbroken until 1928). He also held the world record in 1917 for an out and home "12". Gayler's last season was in 1914, in which he completed the "25" in 1h7m53s. He was also the first man to win the NCU Gold Proficiency badge for breaking 5h4m for 100 miles.

Competed in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic games.

Buried at Kandiwam, Waziristan N.W.F. India. H H Gayler's name is included on a brass tablet was erected in the church at Jullundur, India, in memory of the men killed at Waziristan.

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Polytechnic Cycling Gazette, July 1917, August 1917, June 1918, December 1918 and July 1919
Polytechnic Magazine June 1917

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