Trooper (Private) William Joseph LEE

11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars
Service Number:
Date of Death:
2 June 1917 - Died at home
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:

Personal History:

William was born at 42 King Street, Arundel, Sussex, in August 1881, the son of George (Carpenter) and Frances Lee, later of South View Villa, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham, Sussex. He had five older siblings, Elizabeth, Mary, Harry, James and Florence. (1881 Census RG 111/1121) In 1901 (Census RG 13/963) William was living with his uncle's family, Michael Lee, at Mount Pleasant, Arundel. 

In 1911 (Census RG 14/6389) he was living at Hollington
Place, Thatcham, Berkshire with his wife, Blanche Maud,
née Breach, and their 5 year old son, William Edwin.
He was working as a "Hospital Orderly".
When William enlisted he gave his occupation as "Valet". At that time he stood 5 ft. 5½ ins. [1.66 m.]
tall, weighed 9 st. 2 lbs [58.1 kgs.], and had grey eyes and dark-brown hair.  According to his Death
Certificate, William died on the 2nd June 1917, at Malvern House, Hartington Road, Buxton. His stated
occupation was "Domestic Butler" and cause of death, "Diabetes and Pleuro-pneumonia". Malvern
House, at that time was a Hydropathic Hotel, which had opened in 1867 to utilise the Spa facilities in
the town.

William's death occurred 6 months after his discharge from the Army, so was in civilian employment.
However, his prior service rightly entitled him to a military funeral and CWG headstone.

Military History:
Part of William's Service Records has survived and these show that he enlisted, aged 35 years, on the 28th August 1915. At the time of  his enlistment he stated that he was currently serving with the 1/Lovat Scouts, which were a Yeomanry Regiment, that is cavalry of the Territorial Force. In 1903 the Imperial Yeomanry had been disbanded, but was reformed the following year, consisting of two regiments, titled the 1st and 2nd Lovat Scouts. From these scouts a sharpshooter unit was formed and formally become the British Army's first sniper unit.

He also stated he had been with the Royal Garrison Volunteer Artillery, and has "Resigned".  His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France on the 22nd July 1915, his MIC also gives the date of his discharge as 15th December 1916.

The 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars landed in France on the 16th August 1914 with the 1st Cavalry Brigade, The Cavalry Division, retitled as 1st Cavalry Division on 16th September 1914 when a second division was formed. Clearly, William was a member of the initial BEF contingent, joining them in July 1915 as a reinforcement after the Division had been in action at The Second Battle of Ypres, (22nd April - 25th May 1915) during which the 11th Hussars lost 15 men, mostly on 13th and 14th May.

William joined his Regiment on the 22nd July 1915, before being posted to the Irish Cavalry Regiment Depot, The Royal Barracks, Dublin, on the 28th April 1916. His Army Pension Records show that was suffering from "Glycosuria" (a condition characterized by an excess of sugar in the urine, typically associated with diabetes or kidney disease.)

At a Medical Board, convened on the 5th May 1916, the details of his illness were recorded as:
"Originated 19th Mar 1916. Man states he went into Hospital at Étaples and was operated on for haemorrhoids. Got about & 14 days ago started to be very thirsty.
Urine tested and sugar discovered.
Weight last September: 10 st. 6 lbs. [66.2 kgs.]  At present: 8st. 8 lbs. [54.4 kgs.]
Urine contains Albumen in fair quantity - Cicetone & diacetic acid. [See Footnote below]
Marked amount of sugar present.
Not result of, nor aggravated by Service.
Permanent - Total incapacity at present & for 3 mths, though possibly ½." [Presumbly meaning '6 months']

Three months later William was discharged and was awarded the "Silver Wound Badge" [No. 16277]
confirming his discharge date on the 15th December 1916, as "No longer physically fit for War Service.
Para 392 (xvi) King's Regs".

A Medical Board decision, on the 1st November 1916 authorised an award of 15s. [75p], increased to 22s. [£1.10] on the 4th April 1917 and to 27s. 6d. [£1.37] on the 8th May 1917 [See Footnote below]. His reference for civilian life stated that his conduct had been "Good" and "Has been an Officer's servant and understands valeting." Clearly this proved useful as, after discharge, he moved to Buxton to work as a Valet at Malvern House, Hartington Road, Buxton, where he died, six months after his discharge, on the 2nd June 1917 [see above] and is buried in the local Cemetery.

· Diacetic acid is found in abnormal amounts in the blood and urine in certain conditions of impaired metabolism, such as in starvation and
  diabetes mellitus.
· For reference: the relative purchasing power of £1 in 1916 is £57.41 today [2014].

· "The 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own)" by Richard Brett-Smith (London: Leo Cooper, 1969) [‘Famous Regiments’ Series]
· I am grateful to Keith Taylor for the information from William's Death Certificate.

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Pt Lee's grave
Silver wound badge
Malvern House
Malvern House, c. 1910
[From original postcard]