Sapper William Turner WINSTANLEY

Royal Engineers
90th Field Company
Service Number:
Date of Death:
5 July 1915
39 [49 on CWGC Record]
Grave Number:
II. A. 14.

Personal History:
William was born in Southport, Lancashire, about June 1877, the son of James ('Joseph' on CWGC Record) [Cordwainer] and Elizabeth (née Seddon) Winstanley. In 1881 (Census ) the family were living at 65 Chester Road, Preston, Lancs., and 10 years later (1891 Census ) had moved to 34 Dove Street, Preston.

On the 16th April 1900 William married Anne (Annie) Palfreyman at Chapel-en-le-Frith Register Office and they set up home at 33 New High Street, Fairfield, Buxton (1901 Census RG 13/3269). 
William was employed as an 'Electrician Wireman - Lighting Installation'. In 1911 (Census RG 14/21233) the family was at the same address and a son, also William Turner (b. 1901) [see Footnote below], and two daughters, Margaret (b. 1902) and Isobel (b. 1907), had been born. At the time of his enlistment in 1915 William stood 5ft. 10½ ins. [1.79 m.] tall.

After the War Annie and the children moved to 72 Cliff Road, Fairfield, Buxton. It also seems she went
to work for Fleetwood Cafe, 25 Spring Gardens, Buxton, "Cooks, Pastrycooks and Confectioners",
from where she wrote a brave and dignified letter to William's Company, as follows:

"To the Officer Commanding i/c Records.

Dear Sir

Some time ago I read in the paper that a 'bronze plaque' would be forwarded to the next of kin of
every fallen member of the Forces. I have looked forward to receiving one, but the notice said that
the moment of distribution was uncertain. Perhaps you can tell me how or when I shall obtain one.

My husband, Sapper Wm. Winstanley, 62018, 90th Field Coy R.E. died from Enteric Fever in the
early stages of the War and as I have received none of his personal belongings I feel that I should
like to have everything that is possible (hard as it is to be reminded) to keep his memory fresh both
for myself and children.

Yours Respectfully
Annie Winstanley"

The reply came on the 15th September 1919, to say that the Scroll had been sent and that "... the Memorial Plaque is not ready for issue, but will be forwarded in due course."

Military History:
William enlisted in The Royal Engineers at Buxton on the 6th January 1915. He was immediately assessed as "Electrically Proficient" and transferred very quickly to the 90th Field Company just 10 days later. Within four months he had joined his unit in France, embarking on the 12th May that year, arriving the next day and joining the 9th (Scottish) Division. No doubt William's civilian occupation helped expedite his speedy transfer to the front.

The 90th Field Company, The Royal Engineers joined 9th (Scottish) Division in January 1915 at Bordon and moved to France between the 9th and 12th of May 1915, so William was moving with a new Unit as it joined the British Expeditionary Force. The Company first saw action in the The Battle of Loos, but he was not involved there as it did not commence until the 25th September 1915.

He was not, however, destined to serve very long and his Service Papers show that after just 189 days with the Colours William "died of disease" on the 5th July 1915. A letter written by his wife after the War suggests this was "Enteric Fever" - perhaps better known now as Typhoid fever.

William's place of burial at Etaples would confirm death through illness as the area included 11 general, one stationary, 4 Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, all of which could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. The cemetery now contains 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. The 'Register of Soldiers' Effects' confirms that William died in No 24 Field Hospital.
Annie, his wife, subsequently received his effects and War Gratuity totalling £9 13s 1d [£9.66 - equivalent to about £590 today (2016)].

· CWGC Records show that a 20 year old Air Mechanic (1st Class) 13983 W. T. WINSTANLEY, R.A.F., died in a flying accident on the
   24 May 1920 and was buried close to his family home in Hammersmith Old Cemetery. He, however, cannot be the son of the above as Death
   Records show that William's son, as above, lived until the December quarter 1982.

· I am grateful to The War Graves Photographic Project for the photo of William's grave.
· I am also grateful to Val Stenson ('The Fallen of Fairfield') for the photo of William from 'The Buxton Advertiser' 10th April 1915.

Link to CWGC Record
Fleetwood Cafe, 25 Spring Gardens, Buxton
[Sketch on notepaper]
Spr. William Winstanley