1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

William Harris

Contributed by: Lee Jeavons, on 2008-11-11

No portrait available
First Name William
Surname Harris
Year of Birth 1884
Year of Death 1914
Regiment South Staffordshire Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence Walsall, Staffordshire

William's Story

William Harris was, until 2006 a little known member of my family and his relation to me is great uncle on my mother's side. He was killed at 1st Ypres on 07-11-1914 but was initially declared missing. In December 1915 William was declared dead by the relevant authorities and this was reported in the Walsall Observer at that time.

A chance conversation that my grandfather (William's younger brother, my grandfather) had with my mother related a story of William's death.

Years after the Great War my grandfather was in a local pub with my grandmother and had a conversation with a local who was supposedly in the same trench. It would appear that William, being a soldier in the 1 Batt S. Staffs would have been at 1st Ypres defending ground from a serious German advance.

The story went that William was killed outright by a shell landing in the trench. No trace was found. Of course, this could be a protective tale. "No trace, no suffering." But it is fact that according to CWWG site, William Harris is remembered on the Menin Gate, so he was at Ypres.

Following the Great War the story of William was hushed up, presumably by my great grandfather because of grief. In December 1915, the Walsall Observer reported the decleration of death and that other members of the family had enlisted. William's father had enlisted in the TA, 5th reg of South Staffs. Clearly he felt the need to do something.

No medals or pictures are in the family possession, but A photo does exist of William in uniform from the Walsall Observer.

I continue to research William. The questions I have are:

Why did he stop working for the railways and join the army, was it voluntary at the time or was he already a regular? 1st Batt were in South Africa at the outbreak of war.

Where was he exactly when he died?

Did he die as we think he did?

I need to locate the war diary I suppose. Any thoughts or suggestions welcome as how to proceed.

After 90 odd years of lying out there unknown, this tradegy, one of countless others, can be remembered.

Other memories

No additional memories have been submitted

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