Today sees us commemorate the 101st anniversary of another of our local soldiers. William James Barron of Morton and of the Royal Horse Artillery who died 101 years ago on this day, 20th April 1917.
William was born early in 1894 to Edward Barron Landlord of the Lord Nelson, Morton, and his second wife Eliza Wadsley of Morton.
His father Edward Barron was born in Barnack c1846 and worked as a Gamekeeper. Following the death of his first wife Elizabeth, Edward married his second wife Eliza Wadsley in 1889. Eliza was born c1867 in Morton and died in 1895. Edward was married in 1896 to his third wife Jane Alford.
In 1900 Edward and Jane had a son Edward John Barron who was born in Morton.
In 1911 Jane and her son Edward are still living in Morton, following the death of her husband in 1908.
William by now was working as a garden boy in Tadmor, Sunbury on Thames and living in the household of Annie Horatia Jones. Also in the household was the Gardener John Halford and his wife, who were originally also from Morton.
William attested in Hounslow Middlesex and was listed as a resident of Houndslow at the same time. Although It is not known exactly when William joined the Army he was eligible for the 1915 star and clasp showing that he must have been posted abroad before the end of 1915 and possibly in 1914, a newspaper article also suggests he had been in France since 1914.
William James Barron married Helen Mulley of Ipswich in 1915 and the marriage was registered at Bourne.
An article from the 1st January 1916 in the Grantham Journal described the wedding.
Military Wedding – a very pretty wedding was solemnised At the parish church of St John the Baptist, The contracting parties being Gunner William J Barron, Son of Mrs Jane Barron The genial proprietress of the Nelson Hotel Morton, and Miss Helen Mulley of Ipswich. The bride who was given away by Mr John Halford, Uncle of the bridegroom, looked charming in a neat cream costume. The bridesmaids were missed Ruthie Clark (niece of the bride) and Miss Tompkins (friend of the bride), Who will wore pretty dresses and black velvet picture hats to match, and gold brooches, the gifts of the bridegroom. Mr Edward J Barron, brother, The best man.
The ceremony was performed by the vicar the Rev J H Boldero and the reception was held at the Nelson hotel which is to be the brides future home for the time, and where the wedding breakfast took place. Going W Baron after leaving school took up gardening for an occupation at first under Major Pearson Hanthorpe House, afterwards under his uncle Mr John Halford in Middlesex. Soon afterwards gardening was exchanged for a career of a soldier and the Royal Horse Artillery was his choice. Gunnar W Barron has been 13 months in France and his visit to Morton has long been expected. However on Tuesday week he suddenly arrived with a week’s leave and last Tuesday he rejoined the regiment. The newly married couple have been the recipients of many useful presents.
William and Helen had a son born in early 1917, William F Barron who was registered in Suffolk.
William Barron died of wounds on 20 April 1917. Due to the date and location of his memorial, it would be most likely that he died in one of the early phases in the Battle of Arras. It is possible that it may have been part of the Battle of the Scarpe where the 32nd Brigade fought as part of the 4th Division.
The 32nd Brigade Diary has the following to offer:
Normal trench warfare
V day preliminary bombardment started
Z day 9th division attacked on the front from St Laurent Blangy-Giza at 5:30 AM in conjunction with III corps, remainder of 17th corps and Canadian corps. By 1:30 PM Brown line (pont du jour t- Athies) I’ve been captured and that 2 PM p.m. 32nd second Brigade commenced to move forward by batteries two positions about age 13 meanwhile fourth division had passed through the 9th division by 5 PM had captured a line from Fampoux- Hyderabad worx. at 3:45 PM orders are received to 32nd Brigade to move further forward.
4th Division endeavoured to advance at 12 noon but were unsuccessful, cavalry could not get through.
9th Division endeavoured to advance at 5pm but were unsuccessful owing to hostile macjine guns
Quiet day, enemy bombarded H15 and H16 from 11:30pm until 3am 14th/9/17 with Gas shells
1 officer killed, 2 suffering from gas poisoning and evacuated, 3 other ranks wounded.
14/4/17 – 21/4/17
Normal holding the line. Enemy kept up an intermittent bombardment of H15 during the night and day.
Grantham Journal 5th May 1917 – Morton
Bad News – On Monday morning Mrs Baron of the Nelson in had a letter from the Colonel’s wife whose husband has sent word that Gunner William Barron had been seriously wounded in both legs and chest by the bursting of a shell while packing sandbags in front of gun-pit. On the same morning Mrs James Handford learned that her eldest son Lance Corporal J F Handford had been wounded in action. On Wednesday Mrs Baron was the recipient of the sad news that William Barron had died his legs having been blown off. Mrs Handford heard that Fisher had arrived in England and was now in hospital the deepest sympathy on all sides is felt for Mrs Barron and family in their sudden terrible bereavement Gunner Barron had been in France since 1914.
Grantham Journal, 12th May 1917;
Gunnar Wm J Barron of Morton – Gunnar William J Barron stepson of Mrs Jane Barron of the Lord Nelson Hotel, Morton, Bourne, who received mortal wounds in action on April 20th, was the elder son of the late Mr Edward Barron of Morton (Formerly “Whitewater” Stamford), and grandson of the late Mr and Mrs James Barron, quarry owners, Barnack.
A native of Morton, after leaving school, he took up gardening for an occupation, under Major Pearson, Hanthorpe House, afterwards under his uncle, Mr John Halford, in Middlesex. Soon , However, gardening was exchanged for the career of a soldier, and the royal Horse Artillery was his choice. Tall and of robust physique, he was a fine type of the British soldier, and he has served abroad with the R.H.A. He married, immediately before Christmas, 1915, Miss Helen Mulley, of Ipswich, who is left with an infant son, four months old. Deceased was much respected, and deep sympathy is felt with all members of the bereaved family.
Grantham Journal, 19th May 1917
Gunner William James Barron Of Morton. On Sunday evening last a service was held in the Morton parish church in memory of gun that William James BarronWho was killed in action on April 20th. The Rev JH Boldero (Vicar) conducted the service making reference to the dead soldier during his address. Suitable hymns were sung and a portion of the burial service was read. Connor Barron was one of the first choirboys in Morton church When the surpliced choir was introduced by the late vicar the Rev N C Marris. A muffled Peel was wrong on the bells during the week.
Other comments on the CWGC records show that William was the husband of Helen Dibbin (Formerly Barron) of The Police Station, Mistley, Essex. This shows that the widowed Helen remarried before the Commonwealth War Grave Commission records were compiled.
Gunner William James Barron 68821, Royal Horse Artillery attached to 32nd Brigade HQ Royal Field Artillery, was eligible for the following medals:-
The British Medal
The 1915 Star with clasp.
Gunner William James Barron 68821, Royal Horse Artillery attached to 32nd Brigade HQ Royal Field Artillery, is remembered with honour at the Haute-Avesnes British Cemetery. Grave Ref: C. 22.