Place of Birth Southampton
Date of Birth 1896
Service Number 534424/5359/7572
Regiment Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles
Died 7th September 1917
Death Location Passchendaele
Family Life Before The War
William Wilkins Steed was born 1896 in Southampton. His father – Augustus Posthumous (b. 1859) was from Reading and worked as a Law Clerk; his mother Alice (Wilkins b. 1864) was also from Reading, they were married in 1891 in Southampton.
William had 2 brothers, both born in Southampton. Frank was born in December 1892, he worked as a clerk before serving in the 5th Hampshire Regiment no 2486 during the First World War. He survived the war and married Frances E Jensen in September 1919 in Southampton dying in December 1969 aged 77 in Winchester. The second brother John, was born 4th March 1897. He married Alice M Wilkins in December 1924 in Southampton and died in March 1982 again in Southampton.
William’s grandfather was also named Augustus, born in Cooham (Cosham?), Hampshire in 1819, and his grandmother Emma was born in Chiddingfold Surrey 1818. They had 3 sons – Augustus Posthumous (b. 1859), Frank (b. 1843) and William (b. 1845). Grandfather Augustus worked as a Police Constable; he died 2nd March 1859 when William’s father was 1 year old, leaving £200 to his wife Emma. At that time they were living at Merchants Place, Friar Street, Reading.
Following the death of Augustus, Emma and William lived at 4 Howard Street, Reading. Emma became a Boarding House Keeper.
They later lived at 1 Freemantle Terrace, Shirley where in 1881 it is recorded Emma was a Housekeeper with an annuitant, so it can be assumed William’s grandfather Augustus had made a provision for her in his will to have a regular sum of money which made her a “woman of means”. William’s father Augustus Posthumous, by this time, was working as a Solicitor’s General Clerk and living at the same address.
William’s mother Alice died in September 1933 in Southampton. His father Augustus Posthumous died in 1921. Their last recorded address was given as “Lake View”, 96 Richmond Road, Freemantle, Southampton.
William joined the London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles) 1st/15th Battalions and served as a Private.
The unit landed at Le Havre in March 1915 and took part in the major battles in France and Belgium. William’s last battle was the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele) which took place between the 31st July – 10 November 1917.
Passchendaele Ridge (200ft) gave its name to a major battle of the first world war, officially the 3rd Battle of Ypres, a British battle against the Germans.
After 16 weeks of bitter fighting in appalling conditions of rain, mud and slime, part of the initial objective had been gained at a cost which was huge in casualties; nearly 400,000 British (17,000 officers) and nearly 400,000 German soldiers gave their lives defending Passchendaele, levelling the entire town.
William was killed on 7th September 1917. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal.
William is remembered at the Ypres Menin Gate, Panel 54.