Tuesday, February 27, 2007

R/4188 Rfm William Lansdowne, 13th KRRC

R/4188 Rifleman William Alfred Lansdowne is not mentioned in Chailey’s parish magazine even though he was killed in action on 26th February 1916. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in Holborn, Middlesex, enlisted at Cockspur Street (Middlesex) and was living in Chailey, Sussex. He was the son of Victor and Emma Lansdowne and was killed in action whilst serving with the 13th King’s Royal Rifle Corps. On the day on which he was killed the battalion was in trenches at Bailleulval. The diarist wrote:

"Enemy quiet. Nothing to report. The hard frost continues and the snow is still thick on the ground. The health of the battalion is quite good."

The Chailey connection appears to have been through his wife May who, on his service records, is shown as living at The Girls Heritage, Chailey, Sussex. This was in 1919 though and certainly, in May 1916, May Lansdowne was living at 46 Millman Street, Guildford. William's surviving service papers in WO 363 show that at the time of his enlistment he was still working as a waiter.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (apart from spelling his name incorrectly as Landsdowne) adds the additional information that he was serving with D Company and was the husband of May Lansdowne (nee West), of 46, Millman St., Guilford St., Holborn, London. He appears on the 1911 census as a 17-year-old waiter working at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, 81 Piccadilly, London. He is the only William Alfred Lansdowne on the 1911 census and so this must be him. This would mean that he would have been around 22 years old when he was killed.

William's regimental number dates to 11th September 1914. A few months later he married May West at Holborn, their marriage registered in the first quarter of 1915. A daughter, Vera May Lansdowne, was born in the fourth quarter of 1915. It seems unlikely that Vera ever saw her father as he was already overseas by the time she was born.

William is buried at De Cusine Ravine British Cemetery at Basseux, France; grave reference: G6. He is not commemorated on Chailey’s war memorial but may be remembered on a KRRC memorial and/or one located in the City of London.

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