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William Henry Hedley (1897-1917)

Sunderland man served with 18th DLI

William Henry Hedley was born in Sunderland between July and September 1897. His father was Edward Lewis Hedley (born 1859) who was originally from Sunderland. His mother was Rachael Hedley, nee Russell (1861-1908), from Haswell, County Durham. William was the youngest son of eight children and had four brothers and three sisters.

At the time of both the 1901 and 1911 census, the Hedley family were living at 14 Olive Street, Sunderland. William’s mother died in 1908 leaving William’s father eight children to provide for, all of whom were still living with him in 1911. On the 1911 census William’s father, recorded as a widower, is listed as a retired butcher. Two of William’s brothers were also in the butcher trade: Arthur as a butcher and Robert as an apprentice butcher. William’s brother, Edward, was working as an electrician and his brother Thomas as an engineer’s clerk. William himself was still at school with his youngest sister.

William enlisted into the army in Sunderland on 7 December 1915. He was working as a clerk for Ayres Quay Bottle Company when he enlisted. His attestation papers record him as being 18 years and four months old, and five feet in height. His weight at enlistment was only 96 lbs which is less than seven stone, hence his physical development was recorded as poor.

William served at home until 1 December 1916, embarking from Folkestone for France on 2 December 1916. Soon after his arrival in France he was posted to the 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 13 December 1916. He joined his unit in the field on 16 December 1916 and served until he was killed in action on 3 May 1917, aged 19 years.

William received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service in World War One, medals which were sent to his father. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial, as well as locally in the Book of Remembrance, Holy Trinity in Sunderland.

William’s older brother Robert Alfred Hedley also served with the DLI in World War One. He served as a sergeant with the service number 275644.

Civil Parish: Sunderland

Birth date: 1897

Death date: 3-May-1917

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 14 Olive Street, Sunderland (1901 and 1911 census)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Clerk – Ayres Quay Bottle Company (Attestation papers)

Family: Parents: Edward Lewis Hedley (b 1859), Rachael Hedley nee Russell (1861-1908)
Siblings: Arthur Russell Hedley (b 1887), Edward Lewis Hedley (b 1888), Blanche Hedley (b 1890), Robert Alfred Hedley (b 1891), Thomas Nicholson Hedley (b 1894), Maud Hedley (b 1896), Hilda Hedley (b 1900)

Military service:

Durham Light Infantry 18th Battalion
Service number 37726

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Memorial(s): Arras Memorial Bay 8
Book of Remembrance 1914-1918, Holy Trinity, Sunderland

Gender: Male

Contributed by Brenda McMahon, Gateshead