Names E to F

Ellis, J

CSM 246017 J Ellis was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 9 July 1919. No other medal index card identified.

Ellis, James Henry

Private 45832 James Henry Ellis died of wounds 7 October 1916, and is buried at the Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs.

Born Bardney Lincs, he enlisted in Sheffield on 12 September 1914 aged 20 yrs 16 days. He was 5ft 6in tall, 147lbs, 38½in chest, fresh complexion, hazel eyes, auburn hair with a scar on right forearm, C of E. He was allotted to the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment (different papers give 7th, 10th and 11th Battalions) with the regimental number 19814. His father was John Ellis and his mother Mrs Annie Ellis of Lowthorpe, Southney, nr Lincoln.

At his enlistment he was recorded as a labourer, but it would appear he was a signal fitter with a railway company. His attestation form shows signs that he originally tried to enlist with the Northumberland Fusiliers and may therefore have been an employee of the North Eastern Railway Company. He may however have been an employee of the Great Central Railway, given his Lincolnshire origins.

Ellis had the usual problems with overstaying pass during training. While serving with 10 Y&L on 1 October 1915 he was wounded in the chest and sent back to England to recover. When fit he was sent to 7 Y&L, which he joined on 31 January 1916. He was back in hospital at Boulogne with neurasthenia (a nervous condition that may indicate shell shock) on 27 March 1916 and was sent to No 1 Convalescent Camp at Étaples. While there he was given 14 days FP No 1 for an improper reply to an NCO.

On 2 June 1916 he was attached as reinforcements to 11 DLI, but was back in hospital via 61 FA with myalgia on 7 July 1916. On 11 September 1916 he was formally transferred to 11 DLI with his new number 45832. On 7 October 1916 he died of wounds – another wound to the chest, while serving with A Company. At the time the battalion were working on improving trenches in the new front line beyond Guillemont in ‘Tatler Trench’,

After the war his remains were exhumed and moved to the Guards Cemetery at Lesboeufs, ‘for proper burial’. [ Letter dated 20 January 1920]

Ellison, John Thomas

CSM 11914 John Thomas Ellison was a postman from Hetton-le-Hole and a former militia Sergeant with 4 DLI for 18 ½ years, when he enlisted at Newcastle on Tyne on 11 August 1914. He was aged 39 yrs 8 months, 5 ft 4in, 132 lbs, with a 36 ½ in chest, and a Wesleyan Methodist. He had fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

Ellison had married Agnes Lynch at Prince Consort Road Primitive Methodist Chapel Gateshead on 16 May 1910 and they then had one son, John Thomas, born 18 October 1915. They lived at 216 Rectory Road, Gateshead.

He was initially allocated as a Private to 10 DLI and immediately promoted to Colour Sergeant. On 6 December 1915 he became Acting Quarter Master Sergeant, at which rank he continued to serve in 10 DLI. He was transferred to 11th DLI as Company Sergeant Major on 6 April 1918, a few days after the battalion was pulled out of the line, shattered by the effects of the March Retreat. He became Acting Quarter Master Sergeant from 8 May 1919 and was demobilised 16 July 1919 (which suggests that he stayed with the remnants of the battalion until it was disbanded in June 1919). Ellison was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, LG 17 June 1918 – probably for his service with 10 DLI. At the time of his demobilisation he lived at 253 Eastbourne Avenue, Gateshead.

Having survived the war, and with such long service, Ellison was awarded a pension on his retirement in 1 October 1944 of £74 3s 9d, increasing to £81 1s 7d from 1 December 1946. He died aged 75 on 7 October 1950 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital of cerebral haemorrhage caused by hypertension. He was then living at 14 Spencer Terrace, Gateshead and it was his son R. Ellison, with whom he lived, who registered the death. [This indicates that he had further children after 1915].

Ellwood, Dan Edmunson

TNA Reference: WO 339/69379

Dan Edmunson Ellwood was born in 1887, St Hilda’s, Hartlepool. He originally attested 5 October 1914 at West Hartlepool, where he worked as a commercial traveller in the timber trade, the son of Richard Ellwood of 29 Milton Road, West Hartlepool.

He was first posted Private 18/736 to 18 DLI. On 23 January 1915 he was promoted Acting Lance Corporal, on 13 February 1915 Acting Corporal, on 15 May 1915 Acting Lance Sergeant and on 10 July 1915 Acting Sergeant. At that point he was transferred to Depot duties in Egypt, arriving 22 December 1915. He was transferred to France 5 March 1916, arriving 11 March.

On 22 December 1916 he was sent back to England to train for a commission. He was then aged 29 years and 7 months, single and stood 5ft 11½in tall, with a 40″ chest, dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. He seems to have been a big and imposing figure. No wonder he had progressed rapidly through the ranks.

He attended Officer Cadet Battalion at Gailes Camp, Ayrshire, 7 February 1917 and was commissioned 29 May 1917 with 4 DLI (Reserve). He was posted to 11 DLI, but initially attached to 123 Field Company Royal Engineers on 28 August 1917. He joined the battalion on 9 September 1917 and was on leave 18 December 1917 to 1 January 1918.

He was wounded and taken prisoner at Mézières on 29 March 1918, confirmed as a PoW on 19 July 1918 and repatriated via Leith on 18 December 1918. He was interviewed as to the nature of capture, the account preserved in his service papers.

Ellwood was not immediately demobilised but continued to serve in a home capacity, and was promoted to full Lieutenant on 30 November 1918. A Medical Board convened on 24 May 1919 stated that, through his own neglect, he had exposed himself to infection of syphilis at Sunderland 1 February 1919. The precise symptoms were a thickening of the right internal saphenous vein and a sore on his penis. He was admitted to Brighton Grove Military Hospital, Newcastle on Tyne on 21 February for treatment, having been declared unfit A, B & C for 3 months. On 26 April 1919 he was declared sufficiently fit for some level of duty. A further hospital board held at Poundbury, Dorchester, confirmed that he still had problems with his right leg but was able to march. He was ‘disembodied’ 1 November 1919 at Ripon and on 1 April 1920 relinquished his commission with the right to retain his rank. On 8 September 1927 he made an application to the Officers’ Legion and for a Protection Certificate to prove his war service.

Elsy, George Henry

Private 31767 George Henry Elsy died at home of influenza, 14 March 1919, and is buried at St Stephens Churchyard, South Shields.

Living at 36 Edith St, South Shields, Elsy was 35 years old and a horseman at the time of enlistment on 27 November 1915. He was 5ft 7in, 38½ in chest, 147lbs, C of E, and married to Henrietta Elsy, with six children (Eugenie, George Henry, William, Jane Ann, Norman and Thomas).

He was mobilised on 12 June 1916 at South Shields. While training, attached to 3 DLI, he was admonished 6 August 1916 for overstaying his pass and lost a day’s pay. He was sent overseas on 11 October 1916 to serve with 11 DLI. He was still serving with the battalion as of 12 July 1918 (memo in his papers to this effect). On 27 November 1918 his war pay was increased by 3d a day. He was allowed home on leave from 8-22 December 1918. He returned home for demobilisation via Le Havre on 24 January 1919, classed Group 33 Long Service.

Having thus survived the war he died 14 March 1919 at home aged 38 years, described as coachman, ex-Private DLI, of influenza and pneumonia. A form in his papers signed 13 January 1919 (the day before demobilisation) states that he did not claim to be suffering from a disability due to military service and that he was classed medically A1. He was issued with a protection certificate to apply for unemployment benefit if necessary.

There is no sign of any papers to suggest his death resulted in an army pension, though his grave is cared for by the CWGC.

Endean, William John

William John Endean was born St Austell, Cornwall on 1 April 1888. His father was a retired mine manager at Porthpean Road, St Austell. He was educated at Grafton School, Auckland, New Zealand and privately.

He worked as a clerk accountant in mining in South Africa and originally enlisted there 1915. He enlisted with the 3rd South African Infantry on 21 August 1915 at Potefelstroom, rising to the rank of Lance Corporal. He was 5ft 5 ins tall, weighed 140lbs with a good chest expansion from 34 to 37 inches. Of fresh complexion he had grey eyes and dark hair and professed Church of England. He was able to ride at the time he applied for his commission.

In October 1916 he was sent to No 2 Officer Cadet Battalion, Pembroke College, Cambridge and was made a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in 21 March 1917 in the DLI. He was sent to 14 Battalion from 12 April 1917 and, when that battalion was wound up, he was transferred to 11 DLI on 8 February 1918. He had by then already been made Acting Captain while commanding a company with effect from 3 December 1917.

He was wounded on Sunday 31 March 1918 during a series of consolidating attacks to hold the line against German pushes around Thennes. The wound is described as being made ‘by a piece of shell which entered the right buttock and passed through emerging near the tip of the coccyx’. After recovering, he served with the Army of Occupation in 52 DLI, but continued to have problems and was finally repatriated to South Africe on 13 July 1919 with a ‘disability due to gun shot wound to both buttocks received 31 March 1918’. By then described as an accountant and married his address was given as c/o Rand Mines Ltd, Box 1056, Johannesburg, South Africa.

He was awarded the Military Cross on 16 September 1918, having won the medal for his exemplary service during the March Retreat.

Evans, Thomas Guy

Private 77640 Thomas Guy Evans died of wounds aged 19 on 30 March 1918 and is buried at Fouquescourt British Cemetery.

Evans was a conscript. He enlisted 15 September 1916 aged 17 yrs and 353 days, at which time he worked in the shoe trade, living at 48 Noble Street, Leicester. His parents were Henry Guy and Rosetta Evans. His older brother HG Evans was also serving and he had two sisters.

He was mobilised on 17 February 1917 to Leicestershire Regiment Depot. From 14 June 1917 he was attached to 2nd Training Reserve battalion at Rugeley. He was transferred to 3 DLI from 27 February 1918 and sent overseas. After a short spell with an entrenching unit he was assigned to 11 DLI on 16 March 1918 (by which time he had already been fined 3 days pay for some offence). He finally arrived at the unit on 20 March 1918, the day before the Germans launched Operation Michael.

Evans was reported missing as of 26 March 1918. The War Office received confirmation 29 August 1918 from the German lists that Evans had been taken prisoner with a gun shot wound to the abdomen and had died in hospital at Beaufort on 30 March 1918.

On 26 March 1918 the remnants of 11 DLI were assembled at Roye and marched to the rear at Le Quesnel. It is therefore likely that, although reported missing on 26 March, Evans had been taken prisoner during the previous day. On 25 March, the various separated Companies had already suffered severe losses and were being driven back from the area around Nesle towards Roye.

Fallas, John Geoffrey

Private 81923 John Geoffrey Fallas, aged 19, died of wounds on 19 September 1918 and is buried at Sucrerie Cemetery, Ablain-St-Nazaire.

Fallas enlisted in Barnsley in May 1917 aged 18 and was mobilised to Pontefract July 1917. He was 5ft 10in, 37in chest, a grocer’s assistant, and his next of kin was his mother Elizabeth Ann Fallas of 24 Windermere Road, Barnsley. He was sent to 3rd Training Reserve Battalion on 21 August 1917, first to Rugeley then to Catterick.

He went out to France on 31 March 1918 and was assigned to 11 DLI, B Company to help rebuild the battalion after the losses during the March Retreat. He went down with German measles 25-29 April 1918 and returned to his unit on 1 July. He died of wounds on 19 September 1918, when the battalion was based at Carency. This was a mainly quiet area of the front in the area near Lens and Avion, but there were the occasional exchanges of gas and artillery. Most of the time the battalion were used on trench work, repairing and improving defences. September saw preparations commence for what became known as the Big Push.

The following personal items were returned to his mother: disc, letters, photos, pipe, wallet, 2 religious books, cards, registration card, cigarette case, handkerchief, rosary, pencil, paper, cuttings, savings book.

Farn, Mark

Private 15002 Mark Farn, aged 28, from Shotton Colliery, was reported missing in action, 23 March 1918, and is commemorated Pozières Memorial. The battalion were defending positions on the bank of a canal between Offoy and Canizy in the early days of the German Spring Offensive.

Farn enlisted West Hartlepool 31 August 1914, coal miner aged 25 yrs 90 days, married, 5ft 7in, 140lbs, 37½in chest, C of E: tattoo marks – ‘MF’ on right forearm, scar on right wrist, tattooed dot on both hands below thumbs, fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.

He was assigned to 11 DLI and his records show the following incidents, apart from a clean conduct sheet:-

4/3/1916        adm 61 FA, transferred to 20 Div RS with tonsilitis on the 8th and back to unit on the 14th

6/4/1916        adm 62 FA with recurrence of tonsilitis, to 20 Div RS on 10th and back to duty on the 14th

11-21/1/1917 Leave to England, extended to 25 January 1917

12/5/1917      adm 62 FA with diarrhoea, to duty next day

19/9/1917      wounded slightly, remained on duty

21/1/1918      leave to 4 February 1918

23/3/1918      reported missing [No 7 Platoon, B Company]

1/6/1918        struck off presumed dead, Rosières

Farn’s family comprised his wife, Anne Elizabeth Farn (married 11 July 1908 Shotton Parish Church), children Benjamin (b 1909), Charles (b 1912) and Florence (born 28 October 1918). Because of the late birth of the youngest child, Mrs Farn wrote  9/7/1918 to the War Offfice for advice on how to claim additional allowance when the child was born, given that her husband was presumed dead, and was asked to send a birth certificate. Her previous allotment of 24s 6d was made up as a pension to 25s 5d. The family lived at 6 Primitive Chapel Row, Shotton Colliery.

There was a strange event well after the war. Farn’s identity disc was returned 16 September 1922, having been received at Infantry Records, York from Infantry Records, Hamilton, 11 November 1921. The disc had been returned there 12 August 1919 and had been mistaken for the disc of a Highland Light Infantry man, apparently with a covering card from the Palestine General Hospital. The event generated a demand for a full enquiry in which the Palestine GH denied having sent any disc and having any record of the name. They suggested that the item had become mixed up in papers at Hamilton. There was no firm conclusion to the enquiry, at least not recorded in these papers. It illustrates the burden of bureaucracy handling the thousands of papers for each individual soldier.

Farrell, John [served as John Brady]

Private 21547, aged 22, from Broxburn, Renfrew, died of wounds, 13 March 1916, buried Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdinghe. B Company.

Fenton, Thomas

Private 17000 Thomas Fenton aged 41, was reported missing in action, 24 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

Fenton was born Chilton Moor, Houghton le Spring, and enlisted Houghton le Spring, 14 September 1914. He was then aged 35 yrs 3 months, a miner, 5ft 10in tall, 160 lbs, 39″ chest, fresh complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair, C of E. His wife was Mary Jane (née Lowery), and they had been married 23 March 1901 at Houghton le Spring. Their children were Margaret (1902), George (1907), John (1910), Margery (1914) and they lived at 53 Long Row, Colliery Row, Fencehouses. Thomas was the son of George and Thomasina Fenton of 16 Long Row, Colliery Row, Fencehouses.

Fenton was allocated to 14 DLI and went overseas with them. They trained at Aylesbury (24 September 1914 to 3 October 1914), Halton Park (to 27 November 1914), High Wycombe (to 19 April 1915) and then Witley Camp East. While at Witley Camp he was given 10 days confined to barracks for falling out of parade without permission and reporting sick without cause. When overseas he was given 14 days FP No1 on 6 May 1916. He reported sick with pyrexia (general fever) on 28 August 1916 but was back on duty by 2 September. He was made acting Lance Corporal (unpaid) on 24 March 1917 in charge of the Water Cart. He relinquished this rank when he was posted to 11 DLI on 6 February 1918 as part of the military re-organisation.

He was reported missing on 29 March 1918 and struck off the roll from 31 May 1918, presumed dead. On 29 March the remnants of the battalion were engaged in an attempt to seize back the village of Mézières after French forces were over-run by the advancing Germans. The attempt was brave but ultimately unsuccessful and several men lost their lives, were wounded or taken prisoner.

The widow, who had been in receipt of separation allowance of 28s 0d per week, received a pension of 29s 7d per week for herself and the three children still at home.

Ferguson, John

Private 81764 John Ferguson, from Backworth, Northumberland, died aged 18 from the effects of gas on 9 July 1918 and is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Tréport. He was the son of Robert and Jane Elizabeth Ferguson of West Allotment, Backworth, Newcastle.

According to the battalion war diary, 11 DLI were based at Carency in the Lens-Avion Sector of the front during July 1918. Mutual gas attacks were relatively frequent in this part of the line and there was a major attack on 3 July 1918 in which nineteen men were caught. Ferguson will almost certainly have been one of these and was shipped to the coastal hospital at le Tréport for treatement, where he died six days later.

Ferry, Stephen Oliver

Private 22591 Stephen Oliver Ferry, from Sunderland, was killed in action aged 32 on 16 March 1916, and is buried at Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdinghe. He was the son of the late Robert and Eleanor Ferry of Sunderland.

During March 1916 the battalion was based in a chateau at Elverdinghe behind the lines at Ypres. Their main tasks during the period consisted of various works on improving trenches and communications. The billets came under frequent heavy fire from German artillery, so much so that they had to replace the tents and huts with dugouts to provide better protection. Whether in the billets, at work or travelling between the two, the battalion came under constant artillery attention and this will have been how Ferry was killed.

In 1911, Stephen Oliver Ferry lived at 25 Murray Street, Stanley, Co Durham, aged 27 and worked as a slater. He had been married to his wife Margaret Ann (also 27) since early 1904 and they had two children, Robert (5) and Lilian (2). There were probably other children born after 1911, but these are difficult to distinguish as the surname is quite common in the Lanchester area.

Fieldhouse, John William

Private 75623 John William Fieldhouse, aged 19, from Bradford, enlisted Halifax, was reported missing in action, 24 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. He was the son of the late George William Fieldhouse and Rose Fieldhouse (stepmother) of 31 North brook Street, Bradford.

While the CWGC give his date of death as 24 March, he is recorded in Solders Died as 28 March 1918. Either way, Fieldhouse lost his life during the German Offensive of March 1918, the period of heaviest loss for 11 DLI. Given his young age, he was probably a conscript and will have joined the battalion in the few months before his death.

Findlater, Arthur Ernest

Private 81045 Arthur Ernest Findlater, aged 19, died from gas 21 July 1918, and is buried at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Tréport.

Findlater enlisted 10 May 1917 in Walsall aged 17 years and 11 months. He was a carpenter’s apprentice living at 28 William Street Walsall. He was 5ft 4 in, 32½in chest, 110 lbs, Wesleyan. His father was John Findlater and he left a will to his mother Lily Findlater written 31 March 1918 when he arrived in France. At the end of the war he had two brothers also serving in the forces, one older, one younger.

He was called up on 14 June 1917. He trained with 258th Infantry Battalion from 13 October 1917, but they sent for his trade card on 14 November 1917. When he went to France on 31 March 1918 he was sent to 11 DLI where his carpentry skills would be appreciated, joining them as they were pulled out of the line after being badly mauled during the March Retreat.

According to his service records he was one of several men hit by gas shells on 11 or 14 July 1918 and was transferred via Casualty Clearing Station to 63 FA and the Canadian General Hospital No 2 for treatment. He died there on 21 July 1918. He was one of several 11 DLI men killed by gas in this sector during the summer of 1918.

Fletcher, Noel William Scott

TNA reference: WO 339/57644

Second Lieutenant Noel William Scott Fletcher, aged 19, died of wounds 7 March 1917, and is buried at the Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs.

Fletcher was born 5 January 1898 at 35 Cardigan Street, Ipswich. He was the son of Rev William Edward Fletcher and Emily Marcella Fletcher, née Lovatt. His father was a clerk in holy orders.

From 5 August 1908 to June 1913 he attended King’s College Choir School. He then moved to Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancs in 1913 where he was in Chamberlain House. At the latter school he was a private in the OTC. His home address then was St Matthew’s Rectory, Ipswich.

On 11 January 1915, while still a schoolboy, he applied to join the army and went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, on 21 April 1915. He was then aged 17, 5ft 7in tall, weighed 130lbs and had a chest expansion of 32 to 35½ inches. He wore glasses, right eye 6/18 and left eye 6/24.

The surviving papers do not say much about Fletcher’s army service, though one learns that he attended Pioneer School at Reading before being posted to 11th DLI in January 1917. A telegram dated 9 March 1917 addressed to 255 Norwich Road, Ipswich, reported that he had died of wounds (this was at 60th Field Ambulance). A letter dated 2 April 1917 reported that had been buried at Ginchy Advanced Dressing Station.

In the Rossall school records the reference states that: 7 March Taking the place of a fellow officer, told off that night for other duty, he was just starting at the head of his men for the front line trenches, when he was struck by shrapnel and died before reaching the dressing station’ – which accords with the details above.

Mrs Fletcher sent a number of letters to the War Office, all bordered in black. From these we learn that his father had died and that he had an older sister, Hilda Constance Fletcher, aged 24. His mother was living temporarily at 10 Park Road, Nottingham (her normal address was Allington House, Woodbridge Road, Ipswich). Her correspondence was largely trying to obtain information, especially about her son’s effects. On 12 April she was trying to ascertain the whereabouts of his sword, apparently left in South Shields, and a cheque for £30 for when he sold his motor-cycle. His effects otherwise amounted only to £3.11s.10d in cash along with a silver cigarette case, identity disc, wrist watch, leather strap, leather note case and correspondence.

Floyd, A.

Lieutenant A Floyd took statements from witnesses for the Cunliffe Enquiry, 6 June 1918. He was later mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 9 July 1919 at the rank of Acting Captain. No other information and he presumably survived the war.

Fortune, Wilfred

Private 13524 Wilfred Fortune was a coal miner [working for Weardale Steel Company, Spennymoor] from 3 Railway Cottages, Croxdale, enlisted 9 September 1914 and was set to duty from 11 September. He possibly trained with 16 or 17 DLI before going to France on 11 September 1915 to join 11 DLI.

According to his pension application he was wounded in left knee 26 March 1918, during the Retreat. He was shipped back to England on 28 March and treated at 2nd Western General Hospital Manchester and the VAD Moorlands Hospital. Nominally attached to 3 DLI he survived the war and was demobilized 8 January 1919. Meanwhile, in December 1918 he claimed a pension for the effects of his wounds, complaining of swelling to the knee after walking any long distance of about a mile. The examination did identify some weakness of movement and described it as less than 20% disability. Fortune was awarded a 10% disability allowance of 5s 6d for 52 weeks from 9 January 1919.

Fox, Henry George

Private 18/1739 Henry George Fox, aged 20, was reported missing in action, 26 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. He was the son of Joseph and Ann Fox of 52 Joicey Street, Sherburn Hill. He was born in West Hartlepool and enlisted at Cocken Hall, Durham. According to his medal index card he did not serve overseas before 1916 and may have enlisted that year as a conscript, being assigned to 18 DLI in the first instance. At some later time he will have been transferred to 11 DLI. Unfortunately his service records have not survived.

Fox, Jim

Private 91091 James H Fox, joined 11 DLI as a conscript after training with the 52 Grad Battalion. He had been called up June 1917 and went out to France via IBD Étaples on 1 April 1918, joining C Company, 11 DLI as part of the regrouping after the impact of the March Retreat.

He was interviewed for his memoirs by the Imperial War Museum on oral recording, but some of these do not match official records. For example, in relation to 11 November 1918 he is quoted: ‘At about ten o’clock a shell came down and killed a sergeant of ours that had been out since 1915. Killed by the shrapnel. We though that was very unlucky – to think he’d served nearly four years and then to be killed within an hour of the armistice’. [Quoted Northern Echo, 11 November 2008, by Peter Hart.]

There is no mention of this incident in the battalion war diary, nor in another contemporary oral memoir at the IWM. No person is recorded as killed on that day, though a Sergeant is recorded dying a few days later. A great deal of his ‘memoir’ refers to the period of the March Retreat, in which he did not serve, so the indications are that he is ‘remembering’ things he was told rather than things he experienced directly. This is a common problem with oral reminiscences, especially given a long lapse of time. Nevetheless there is much else of value in his general account of training and of service in the Lens-Avion sector during the summer of 1918, including the effects of gas attacks.

Freeman, William Winters

TNA Reference: WO339/101504

Durham CRO Ref D/DLI/7 231/1 Order of Service 23 December 1917, St Alban’s Church

Second Lieutenant William Winters Freeman, aged 27, was killed in action 30 November 1917, and is buried at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery.

Freeman originally signed up at Felling, Co Durham on 7 September 1914. At the time he was aged 24 years and 6 months, born in Heworth, Co Durham, 5ft 7in tall, weighed 154 lbs and had a 36 in chest with a 2½in expansion. He had good general health and eyesight. He was originally attached to 13th DLI as private 13/19106. Following basic training he went to France 25 August 1915 until 2 April 1917.

Before going overseas Freeman married Ethel Ridley at St Albans Church, Heworth on 23 June 1915, at which time the couple’s address became 1 Major Terrace, Felling (later Holly Hill). His father was Samuel Freeman of Musgrove House, Windy Nook.

His soldier’s will read: “In the event of my death I, 19106 Sergeant William Winters Freeman of the 13th (Service) Battalion Durham Light Infantry, do hereby leave the sum of £31.0.0 to my mother Sarah Ellen Freeman to be used at her discretion for her own personal use or for the education of my brother Horace Kimberley Freeman. I also leave to my mother all my personal effects at present at my home, Musgrove House, Windy Nook in the County of Durham. I leave to my wife (Ethel Freeman) any Club Money which may be due to her from either of my two Clubs, and also any of my personal effects which she may have at the present time at her home at Felling on Tyne.” (signed 22 August 1915, Bramshott, Hants).

Freeman attained the rank of Colour Sergeant Major in 13 DLI, promoted in the field to that rank on 4 September 1916.

Following his receipt of a commission he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant 11 DLI from 2 April 1917 (LG 3 April 1917). He was killed in action 30 November 1917 when the Germans launched their counter-attack at Cambrai. He left no children. There was a balance of cash at Messrs Holt and Co of £9.8s.0d. His few remaining effects consisted of an advance book, cheque book, photos and papers, received by Ethel Freeman at Holly Hill 3 January 1918.

On 23 December 1917 a service of commemoration was held at St Alban’s Church, Windy Nook. A collection was made at the service towards funds to erect a memorial for local parishioners.

In 1901 the family were living at Union Street, Windy Nook, Heworth, Jarrow. At the time William was 11 years of age (therefore born approximately 1890). His father was Samuel Freeman, aged 32 and a coal miner Deputy born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. His mother was Sarah E Freeman, aged 30 and from Gateshead. William had been born in Heworth. By 1911, now at Musgrove House, Windy Nook, William was working as a shipping clerk.

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