William John Beecher

Date of birth: 24th May 1888
Place of birth: Hackney, London
Date of marriage: 1915
Place of marriage: Southampton
Service No.: 62156
Rank: Gunner
Regiment / Division: royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Battalion: L Battery
Died: 2nd November 1918 aged 30 years
Death location: Woolwich, London

Before the War
William was born 24th May 1888 to William John (1858 – 20/04/1929) and Rosina Sophia Beecher (nee Dapling 1859 – 1920).  He was baptised on 18th July 1888.  William’s parents were married in Bromley on 7th August 1886. 

William’s siblings were:

Ellen Louisa b.17.10.1889 – d.1890.  Married Jesse A Collis in West Ham in 1922.
Florence Rose b.24.09.1891
George Arthur b.30.08.1893 – 1956.  Married Sophia J Washbrook in West Ham in 1918.
Frank Henry b.1895 – d.25.07.1918.  Served as a Sergeant in the London Regiment and died in france and Flanders on 25th July 1918.
Walter Frederick b.1898 – d.1951.  Served as a Private in London Regiment during WWI.
Edith Maud b.15.05.1901 – d.1996.  Married Frederick J Groombridge in West Ham in 1925.


On the 1891 Census William is living with his parents and sister Ellen at 77 Lyal Road, Mile End Old Town, London.  His father is working as a Stationer’s Assistant.  On 15th May 1893 William and Ellen started at the Stafford Road School, Tower Hamlets. 

In the 1901 Census William is living at 77 Norman Road, Leytonstone, Essex with his parents, brothers George, Frank and Walter and sisters Ellen and Florence.  His father’s occupation is now a Printer’s Order Clerk.

On the 1911 Census William’s family are living at 76 Granleigh Road, Leytonstone, Essex.

William married Amelia May (nee Barrett 1890 – 1951) in Southampton in 1915.  This was Amelia’s second marriage.   She married Arthur William May in 1910 but he died in 1912 on RMS Titanic, along with his father, also called Arthur William.

William and Amelia had two daughters, Ivy Amelia (1916 – 1996) and Florence Ellen (1918 – 1993).

Amelia went on to marry John Bartlett May, the cousin of her first husband Arthur, in Southampton in 1919.  John’s father, also named John Barlett May (1852 – 1929) was the brother of Arthur William May senior.

Amelia’s husbands Arthur William May and John Bartlett May were cousins.  Their fathers, John Bartlett May (1852 – 1929) and Arthur William May (1853 – 1912) were brothers.

Military History
William was not on the 1911 England Census but there is a Gunner William Beecher on the 1911 Census of Ireland which was taken at the British Cavalry Barracks in Newbridge, Kildare.

William enlisted in London and served in the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery.  He was part of ‘L’ Battery which was based at Aldershot under the 1st Cavalry Brigade.  The ‘L’ Battery took part in one of the first battles of World War 1, the Battle of Néry.

This was fought on 1st September 1914 when the 4th German Cavalry attacked whilst the British Cavalry and Battery were camped in the village.  The attack was repelled by the Cavalry and 12 German guns were captured.  ‘L’ Battery was almost destroyed and withdrew to England so that it could reform.  It was later awarded the Honour Title of ‘Néry.’  In 1915 the battery was sent to Gallipoli.

William died of pneumonia on 2nd November 1918 in Woolwich, London.  At the time of his death his home address was 87 York Street, Northam, Southampton.

He was awarded the Victory and the British War medals.

Gravestone of  William John Beecher

Gravestone of
William John Beecher

William is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery, Grave Reference 150 N. 69.  The cemetery is on Southampton Common and contains 99 Commonwealth war graves from the First World War.

Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published.: 24th February 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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