V. Gareth Gundrey

The life of the film director V Gareth Gundrey is emblematic of British survivors of the Great War.

Born in 1893 in Taunton, Somerset, he reached the rank of captain in the Third Welch Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross and Bar. The citation, held at the Imperial War Museum, records that the commendation was made for taking an enemy headquarters. Having fought in, and survived, the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, he was wounded on 8th November 1918, three days before the armistice. His leg was amputated in a field hospital.

After recovering, he found work in the film industry, first editing, then scriptwriting (8 films) and producing (11 films) and eventually directing (5 films) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He worked with the notable producer Michael Balcon and the director James Whale, whose work included Frankenstein. Gundrey’s last film, made in 1932, was the first talkie version of Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, which, unfortunately, has largely been lost.

Of chief interest to this work, in 1930, Gundrey revisited his wartime experience of a decade earlier by screenwriting the film version of RC Sherriff’s  Journey’s End.

Gundrey lived at Bishop’s Mansions, Fulham, west London; then in a semi-detached house at 12 Sunbury Avenue, East Sheen. After his film career, he ran a bookshop in south-west London. He had two children, Elizabeth and Walter, both of whom became journalists. According to Elizabeth, probably as a result of his wartime experiences, he suffered from rages and long silences. She remembers Christmas as being a difficult time for Gundrey to endure. He died, aged 72, on 22 July, 1965 in Chertsey, Surrey.