yeovil at War

William Henry Stanley Guppy

Killed in action at Passchendaele

 

William Henry Stanley Guppy, known as Willie, was born in Yeovil in 1896 and baptised in St John's church on 17 November 1897 when he was 18 months old. He was the son of carter Henry Hoskins Guppy (1861-1947) and Alice Louisa née Langdon (1877-1950) of 2 Mary Street. Henry and Alice were to have four children; Minnie (b1888, Weymouth), William, Ernest (b1900) and Alice (b1900) - the last three all born in Yeovil.

By 1901 the family had moved to Hadlow, Kent and by 1911 had moved to Halifax, Yorkshire, where Henry worked as a farm labourer and 14-year old Willie worked as a 'taker off' in a cotton mill.

In the summer of 1916 William married Catherine Mary Cropper at Halifax.

It is not known when Willie enlisted but it was at Halifax and initially he was a Private in the Royal Field Artillery, Service Number 165715. He was then transferred to the 18th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers (2nd South East Lancashire) where he had the new Service Number 22802.

The 18th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was raised as a Bantam Battalion (troops who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches) in Bury on 13 January 1915. After initial training close to home, they moved to Garswood Park, Ashton in Makerfield on 8 April 1915. On 21 June they joined 104th Brigade, 35th Division at Masham, North Yorkshire. They moved to Cholderton, Salisbury Plain for final training in August and the Battalion was formally adopted by the War Office on the 27th.

The battalion was ordered to Egypt in late 1915, but the order was soon cancelled and they proceeded to France landing at Le Havre on 29 January 1916, the division concentrated east of St Omer. They were in action during the Battles of the Somme at Bazentin Ridge, Arrow Head Copse, Maltz Horn Farm and Falfemont Farm. The division received new drafts of men to replace losses suffered on the Somme, but the CO soon discovered that these new recruits were not of the same physical standard as the original Bantams, being men of small stature from the towns, rather than the miners and farm workers who had joined up in 1915. A medical inspection was carried out and 1439 men were transferred to the Labour Corps. Their places being taken by men transferred from the disbanded yeomanry regiments, who underwent a quick training course in infantry methods at a Divisional depot set up specifically for that purpose.

In 1917 they were in action during the Pursuit to the Hindenburg Line, at Houthulst Forest and the Second Battle of Passchendaele. On 22 October 1917 William 'Willie' Guppy was killed in action during the Second Battle of Passchendaele. He was just 21 years old. In the winter of 1919 his widow, Catherine, married Arthur Robinson at Halifax.

William Guppy is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Flanders, Belgium, but his name is not on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 

The record of William's baptism of 17 November 1897 at St John's church. The margin note states that he was '18 months' old at the time of his baptism.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Percy Dargue.

The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The memorial now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and F.V. Blundstone, was unveiled by Sir Gilbert Dyett on 20 June 1927.