yeovil at War

William Theophilus Ross

Killed by a German minenwerfer (short range mortar)


William Theophilus Ross was born in Ashmore, Dorset (about five miles southeast of Shaftesbury) at the beginning of 1888 and baptised there on 4 March 1888. He was the son of farrier Edwin Ross (1868-1938) originally from Shaftesbury and Sarah Susanna Minnie née Davey (b1860), originally from Banningham, Norfolk. In fact William never lived in Yeovil - his family moved to London the year after his birth, moving to Huish, Yeovil around 1910 by which time William was a cook in the army and stationed in Malta. After his army service he lived in Mitcham, Surrey. Nevertheless, since his parents had his name inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough, I have created this page to commemorate William Ross.

From 1889 the family lived in Islington, then Camberwell and finally Lambeth, all in London, where William's siblings were born; Edwin (1889-1902), Reginald James (1897-1974), Lily (b1900) and Margaret May (1901-1986).

William became a professional soldier, serving in No 5 Company, Royal Garrison Artillery. In the 1911 census, at the age of 24, he was stationed in Malta and he gave his trade as a cook.

After leaving the army William served in the Metropolitan Police and was a National Reservist. In the summer of 1913 William married Daisy Lily Sibley at Hackney, Middlesex and at the outbreak of war they were living in Mitcham, Surrey As a married National Reservist, William was not called up until late 1915. He rejoined the Royal Garrison Artillery, serving in the 32nd Trench Mortar Battery. His Service Number was 22665.

After a period of training in Scotland, he was sent to France in January 1916. His previous military career clearly counting, William had the rank of Sergeant.

It is nearly impossible to discover where William fought, however since he was buried at Cambrin, France, it is clear that he was involved in the trench fighting to the east of Bethune and north of the main Somme battlefields. Nevertheless Cambrin, just north of Loos, was part of the whole Somme Offensive.

William Ross was killed on 4 October 1916 by a bomb from a German minenwerfer (trench mortar), aged 29.

He was interred in Cambrin Churchyard Extension, Pas de Calais, France - Grave S2. Even though he never lived in or near Yeovil his name is on the Yeovil War Memorial in the Borough.




William Theophilus Ross
1888 - 1916


A British 9.45" trench mortar and it crew.


A German minenwerfer, or short-range mortar, being towed by German troops.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of William Ross.


William Ross' CWGC headstone.


Cambrin Churchyard Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

At one time, the village of Cambrin housed brigade headquarters but until the end of the First World War, it was only about 800 metres from the front line trenches. The village contains two cemeteries used for Commonwealth burials; the churchyard extension, taken over from French troops in May 1915, and the Military Cemetery "behind the Mayor's House." The churchyard extension was used for front line burials until February 1917 when it was closed, but there are three graves of 1918 in the back rows. The extension is remarkable for the very large numbers of graves grouped by battalion, the most striking being the 79 graves of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and 15 of the 1st Cameronians (Row C), the 35 of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers and 115 of the 1st Middlesex (Row H), all dating from 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos. Cambrin Churchyard Extension contains 1,211 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 8 being unidentified. There are also 98 French, 3 German and 1 Belgian burials here. The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.