William Robert John Thompson
Contributed by: Peter Jackson, on 2008-11-04
|First Name||William Robert John|
|Year of Birth||1893|
|Year of Death||1918|
|Regiment||Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Clapton, Greater London|
William Robert John's Story
Will's regiment left England for India in December 1915. After barely two months of marriage, he never saw his wife Lucy Neal again, being killed in Mesopotamia in October 1918:
Will was awarded the MM for his actions in Mesopotamia.
Dear Mrs Thompson
It is with the deepest regret that I am writing these few lines to give you the details of how your husband received the wound which lately caused his death.
He was our Company Lewis Gun storeman and the No 1 of his platoon's Lewis Gun section. He was acting as such on the 28th of October when the Bt went into action. We were very weak as an epidemic of influenza had reduced our numbers by about 200 or more. My platoon (no 13) was amalgamated with his (no 16) and after getting through the shell fire we got off on to the right of the 13th by ourselves. When I say we I mean that Lewis Gun section and myself. The battalion had captured the first position and the Turks were retiring, covered by machine fire. As he was very tired after carrying the gun, I had told him to hand it over to the no.2 and act as no.2 himself. It was then he was wounded by a rifle or machine gun bullet which struck him right across the forehead. I put on the first field dressing and managed to get a stretcher through. I had to go forward before it arrived. I heard afterwards that he was quite as well as could be expected through the dressing station and it was evidently the journey down which caused his death.
I was in charge of no 16 platoon for a year when I first joined the Bt. And then became Lewis Gun officer so that in one way or another I had a lot to do with your husband. I got to look on him as one of my best friends in the company. I have often had long talks with him. He loved an argument and was always trying to draw me into one about odd topics that he picked up. I can only say that I shall miss him very much indeed and I know his platoon will too. He was not only one of the smartest and best men in the company but also a jolly good pal. He did lots of odd little jobs for me. Only a few days before the action he remarked to me referring to the fact that so many had gone down with flu, that his little clique, meaning his Lewis Gun section, were still going strong and was very proud of the fact.
I am glad to say that I do not think that he suffered much pain as he did not show any signs of it and I think he was too stunned to feel it. I may add that he was recommended for a mention in despatches some time ago for his good work with the battalion and that his name was also sent in for the good work he did that day.
The battalion was attacking a position by itself. It was 450 strong and the Turks were reported to be 2000, with about 12 guns or more. We captured the position, 160 prisoners and 10 machine guns and drove the Turks back. This was at about 2 o' clock. We had been marching since 3 o' clock that morning.
Well, Mrs Thompson, I am afraid this is a poor letter and does not express all I should like to say. To you, in your bereavement, I offer my deepest sympathy on behalf of the company and especially no 16 platoon and myself. We shall never forget your husband with his cheeky ways and his ambition to do his best for everyone. He did his best for us all and I am sure it will not go unrewarded. We can do little to alleviate your great sorrow but this letter will show you that he died doing his job splendidly as he always did everything.
With very best wishes
John Hilsun (?), Lieutenant