yeovil at War
William John Campbell
Named on the War Memorial in the Borough
William John Campbell was the eldest of the seven children of Donald George Campbell (1873-1944) originally of Pembroke, and Caroline Kate née Treasure, known as Kate (b1868) of Yeovil. Donald and Kate were married in Yeovil in 1897 but had moved to Aldershot by the time of William's birth and, as far as I can ascertain, never returned to Yeovil.
By 1911 the family were living in HM Prison, Princeton, Devon, where Donald was an Assistant Warder of HM Convict Services.
William is recorded as enlisting in the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. However his Service Number 9393 would indicate that he enlisted as a boy soldier in 1912 at the age of fourteen. (?)
He is known to have enlisted at Devonport in the 2/5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. His Service Number 38384 in this regiment suggesting he enlisted in late 1916 or early 1917, when he would have been eighteen. The regiment was part of 145th Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division.
In 1917 the 2/5th Gloucesters moved down to the Somme at the end of October, too late for any of the battles but in time to follow up the German retreat to the Hindenburg in March/April 1917. They then took part in the Third Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Cambrai and the German counter-attack. In the March and April 1918 offensive the 48th Division suffered some 6,000 casualties, including William Campbell. He was killed in action on 29 April 1918, aged 21
William was interred in St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France - Grave IV.F.12. His name is inscribed in the County of Somerset Book of Remembrance in St Martin’s Chapel, Wells Cathedral and, bearing in mind his only connection with Yeovil is that his mum was born and married here, his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of William Campbell.
St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
For much of the First World War, the villages of St. Venant and Robecq remained practically undamaged, but in April 1918, during the Battle of the Lys, the German line was established within 2 kilometres of the road that joins them. The cemetery was begun around 12 April and used as a front line cemetery until the end of July. At the Armistice it contained 47 burials, but was then greatly enlarged when graves were brought in from from the battlefields south of St. Venant and from other cemeteries in the vicinity. St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery now contains 479 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 85 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to five casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.