William Mearn

WILLIAM MEARN (1896 - 1918)

William was born in Macclesfield in1896. He lived with his mother Emma at 3, Bakers Street until Emma's death, in 1905, at the age of forty-four. The orphaned William then moved to live with his mother's brother Thomas and his wife Harriet at 9, Statham Street. It was a busy household. Thomas and Harriet had four daughters who had various trades in the local silk industry; Thomas worked at home as a silk weaver. It is perhaps not surprising that by the age of fourteen, William was working as an embroiderer in a 'silk embroidery firm', which most likely may have been A. W. Hewetson's machine embroidery business in Albion Mill, London Road.

By the age of nineteen, William was in the Midlands since he attested at Oxford and joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. William's Medal Index card suggests that he was originally a member of the 1/4th Battalion Territorial Force before joining the 5th Battalion. After initial training, William and his battalion landed in France on 28 June 1915. Within days of arriving in Flanders, as part of the 42nd Brigade of the 14th (Light) Division, William would have witnessed the Germans put their new weapon, the flammenwerfer, or flamethrower to horrific effect on the Allies at the Battle of Hooge. William went on to fight in The Second Attack on Bellewaarde, on the Somme, in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, as well the First and Third Battles of the Scarpe at Arras.

At the age of twenty one, William was officially listed as 'wounded' in the War Office Daily Casualty List (List Number 5375, Part II), published on 27th September 1917. We do not know the cause or extent of his wounds but the date of the Casualty List suggests William may have sustained his injuries during The First Battle of Passchendaele, fought between 31 July and 10 November 1917.

William was not discharged from Service as a result of his injuries and returned to the Western Front. He died on Wednesday 23 March 1918. William has no known resting place and is commemorated on a panel in the Pozieres Memorial in France. This memorial specifically commemorates March and April 1918 when the Allies experienced huge losses as they were driven back across former Somme battlefields. William's name appearing on this memorial, therefore, suggests he was a casualty of this onslaught.

Pozieres Memorial
Pozieres Memorial © C.W.G.C.

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