Private William Edwin BENNETT
 

Regiment/Service:
Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
(Formerly: 2/5th East Surrey Regiment)
Unit:
4th Battalion
Service Number:
G/64162
(Fly: 203164 2/5th East Surrey Regiment)
Date of Death:
31 August 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
21
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
I. B. 8.


Personal History:

William was born at Harpur Hill, Buxton, the eldest son of Aaron (Quarryman) and Ellen (née Salt) Bennett.  He had two younger brothers, Robert and Francis. (1901 Census RG 13/3271)

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21239) William had four more younger siblings, Sam, Sarah Elizabeth, Margaret Annie and Gwendoline, and the family had moved to Brandside, near Buxton. William, however, was not living at home but was living and working as a "Page" at the Haddon Grove Hydro, London Road, Buxton.
In reporting William's death, The Buxton Advertiser, 28th September 1918, it was stated that Mrs Bennett (his mother) has ".. her husband and two more sons serving. This is a fine example for Harpur Hill village." At that time they were living at 38 Cinder Row, Harpur Hill. After the War the family had moved again to New Lodge Cottage, Flash, Staffs.

Military History:
William enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment in Buxton. His Medal Index Card indicates that he entered the War in France after 1915 as he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star and unfortunately his Service Papers have not survived. The Buxton Advertiser, 28th September 1918, suggested he had served since 1916. During this time he had served in Ireland and also Italy

The 2/5th Battalion, East Surreys, were formed at Wimbledon in September 1914 as a home service ("second line") unit. In November 1914 it moved to Windsor and became part of 2nd Surrey Brigade, 2nd Home Counties Division. They moved to Tunbridge Wells in May 1915 and on to billets in Reigate in November 1915, before moving again to Sevenoaks in June 1916 but soon to Gore Street (Thanet).

It was perhaps to gain active service that William transferred the 4th Battallion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). This Battalion landed at Le Havre on 13th August 1914, part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, though clearly William have joined much later as a replacement or reinforcement.

On the 25th August 1918 the Battalion was as Ayette, moving into the line on the 27th at Boiry St. Martin. Two days later they came under Divisional command at Mary Switch and relieved the 1st Gordon Highlanders on the night of 30/31 August. The Battalion attacked south of Ecoust at 5.45 a.m. on the morning of the 31st. The War Diary reads:

"After advancing about 500 yds. they were held up by hostile machine guns located in a sunken road. The tank detached to clear this road broke down on reaching this road and its crew was captured. In the evening the 1st NFs attacking from Ecoust cleared this nest of machine guns and the attack was continued during the night. The objective for the day was occupied without opposition at 4.30 a.m. on the 1st."

Sometime during the day William was killed in action, aged 22, and is buried in the nearby
Cemetery at Ecoust.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 28 September 1918
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the extracts from the War Diary

Link to CWGC Record
Pt W E Bennett
William Bennett's grave
poppy
William's grave dedication