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-   -   (43) William Arthur Overton, Private 10749 Coldstream Guard (

Jill 26-01-15 14:51

(43) William Arthur Overton, Private 10749 Coldstream Guard
43rd of the St Wilfrid's Old Boys to die in WW1.

William was born in 1896 in Haywards Heath to William and Catherine Overton, his father was a baker and they lived in Franklynn Road, by 1911 when he was 14 he was working in the bakehouse and was the eldest of 9 children. He joined the Coldstream Guards in May 1914 in Brighton and was 5ft 9in tall with brown hair and grey eyes.

William was wounded at Ypres in November 1914, his records say he was a trustworthy and hardworking man. After being wounded he was discharged as medically unfit on 30th June 1915 with a pension. The report says “Gunshot wound, total blindness. Somewhere in France or Belgium. Man suffering from loss of memory and blindness. He is in a fair condition of general health. His memory for recent & past events has gone & he is blind in both eyes. The condition of the fundus is quite normal and there is nothing about the eye to account for blindness in the opinion of Mr Harion (ophthalmic specialist) the condition is physical.”

He died on 28 Jun 1917 in the Brighton area, having married shortly before his death and is buried in Haywards Heath Cemetery; his gravestone says he died from the effect of his wounds. He was 20 years old.

This appeared in the Mid Sussex Times:
The deepest sympathy has gone out to Mr & Mrs Overton, of Franklynn Road, on the death of their eldest son, William Arthur, the sad event occurring on Thursday at Preston, near Brighton. The deceased, who had only been married four months, was in his 21st year.

He enlisted in the Coldstream Guards in May, 1914, and eventually went out to France. He had not been out there very long before he was shot in the head at Ypres by a sniper. The wound was so severe that for three months this poor young fellow lay unconscious and blind, and that his life was prolonged was due entirely to surgical skill and the good nursing he received both in France and in the London Hospital.

In April, 1915, he received his discharge from the Army, being no longer physically fit for service. Three hundred and nineteen days had he served, and his discharge paper stated that he was “a trustworthy, hardworking man.”

The funeral took place at the Church of the Presentation, New England Road, yesterday (Monday) afternoon, and a large number of sympathising friends attended to witness the last sad rites. The chief mourners were Mrs WA Overton (widow), Mr & Mrs W Overton (father and mother ), Alan George and Geoffrey Overton (brothers), the Misses G and D Overton (sisters), Mrs Brayne (granny), Miss Brayne (aunt), Miss K Barnard (sister in law), Mr P Woodland and Private D Luxford.

Then in the fashion of those days there was a list of everyone else who attended and what was written on the cards accompanying flowers that were sent.

There is no mention of his wife in the gravestone, he is described as the eldest son of William and Catherine. Someone of the same name (Ethel M Overton) married in Horsham district in 1920.

Merry 26-01-15 16:40

It looks likely that William's widow had a son, registered in Q1 1918. :)

Jill 28-01-15 14:09

Off to take a look...

Jill 28-01-15 17:53

Thanks Merry, I've traced him forward though not sure if I've found a death yet so won't put his name on here. Appears to have married in the late 1930s & had a son just after WW2 followed by a divorce and remarriage for both parties.

Jill 09-04-17 11:30

I will be attending a ceremony honouring William at his graveside on the anniversary of his death at 11am: wreaths will be laid and the last post and reveille played, with a family member and the Canadian standard bearer representing William's great great nephew, a Brigadier General in the Canadian army who visited for the 2014 anniversary ceremony at the town war memorial to commemorate the outbreak of the Great War.

Jill 23-04-17 11:15

There is a record on which is lifted from the website's Haywards Heath page which gives Thetis Lorraine (Wells) Peters as William's spouse. This is WRONG!

Carol 09-05-17 23:42

William Arthur Overton is my Uncle and I do know quite a lot about him but am interested in finding his family, wife was Ethel May Barnard son was William Arnold born in 1918. The ceremony for the anniversary of his death in June, will be a moving tribute to him. William Arthur was the eldest of 9. Look forward to some news. Carol

Jill 10-05-17 14:26

Hi Carol, welcome to the forum - are you near enough to Haywards Heath to be able to attend? I am told a great great nephew from Uckfield will be there.

Carol 10-05-17 22:15

William Arthur Overton
Hi Jill, No I live in Australia but I would love to be there, My cousin Geoff will be there, can you tell me your connection? I would really love to find Williams son's family. My mother was the youngest of the 9 children born 1919 and remembers William Arnold visiting. Thanks for quick response. Carol

Jill 11-05-17 14:47

I'm not connected at all Carol, but I work at St Wilfrid's School which he attended, we are not in the same building now but the WW1 memorial board on which he features moved to the new school in the 1950s. I have researched every one of the 75 names on and have put up a display on each man as his 100th anniversary comes up.

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