Private William Baker, 40739

  • Batt - 1
  • Unit - Leicestershire Regiment
  • Section -
  • Date of Birth -
  • Died - 05/09/1917
  • Age -

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Source: Leicestershire War Memorials Project.
Coalville Times article – Friday October 23rd, 1914


That fifty of the Coalville Territorial recruits have been selected to make up the 5th Battalion Leicestershire about to go abroad?

(William was one of these Famous ‘First Fifty’ as they would be forever remembered – only 22 would return)

Coalville Times article – Friday October 30th, 1914


Fifty of the Coalville Territorial recruits who have been selected to make up the 5th Battalion for France received their clothes yesterday preparatory to leaving for Luton to-day (Friday).

Coalville Times article – Friday October 30th, 1914


Fifty of the Territorial Reserves selected to make up the 5th Battalion at Luton left Coalville for that place by the 9 o’clock train this morning (Friday) amid scenes of great enthusiasm. The railway station, bridge, and approaches thereto, were crowded with hundreds of people, and the Coalville lads had a much hearty send-off. The crowd included the Vicar, curate and many of the leading residents of the town and district. The Territorials looked very smart in their new uniforms and before they left they found in their pockets packets of cigarettes and chocolates, a pleasant surprise which a number of Coalville ladies and gentlemen had thoughtfully prepared for them. While waiting for the train they and the crowd sang “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and other popular martial airs, and the train left amid ringing cheers.

Coalville Times article – Friday November 6th, 1914


Several of the Coalville friends of the fifty Territorial Reserves who left here for Luton last Friday have received letters which show that the men are in excellent spirits. Upon arrival at Luton they were allotted to various companies and were billeted at houses in the town, being supplied with warm blankets, and the food was stated to be good and plenty of it. It is just possible that they may have left Luton by now, as a letter received from one of them yesterday, stated they were mobilising on Wednesday and were expected to leave for an unknown destination. Since arriving at Luton on Friday they have had gun practice, several long marches and engaged in mimic warfare.

Coalville Times article - Friday October 12th, 1917


Private Wm. Baker, of the Leicestershire Regiment, is reported to have been killed in action on September 5th, his name and number having appeared in the official list of casualties, though the official notification has not yet reached his parents. Letters sent to him, however, have been returned by the Authorities, stating that he was killed on the date given. He is the younger son of Mr George Baker, of Page’s Hill, Hugglescote who is employed at the Ellistown Colliery. Before the war, the young soldier, who was barely twenty years of age, worked at the Bagworth Colliery. He enlisted at the first large recruiting meeting held in the Coalville Olympia. Mr Baker’s only other son is serving in India.

Coalville Times article - Friday November 2nd, 1917


Further news has been received respecting the death of Private William Baker of the Leicestershire Regiment, whose parents reside at No. 2 Ashby Road, Hugglescote. A week or so ago, the soldier’s name and number appeared in an official list of men killed in action and his parents having received no news of the same, a sister of the deceased has been making enquiries. The following letter has now been received from an officer: “Yours of the 10th inst. to hand. I regret very much that you have received no official intimation on regarding the death of your brother, as this fact was reported to headquarters in the usual manner. However, I am making enquiries as to the cause of the delay. Private Baker at the time of his death, was company orderly and was accompanying the Company Commander to the trenches when he was struck by a shell. It will be some consolation to you to know that death was instantaneous, and that he died at his post. I am not permitted to state the place of burial, but he was buried in a cemetery just behind the line. It is the usual custom for a soldier’s immediate commander to write and inform his next of kin of his death, but on this occasion the company commander went to hospital on the following day. I am requested to tender you the deepest sympathy of the men of his platoon, and to mention that his company commander placed great confidence in Private Baker – hence his appointment to the important and responsible post of company orderly. May I also tender you my sympathy as one who knew your brother and appreciated to the fullest extent his fine qualities as a British soldier.” Private Baker, who was 19 years of age, was reported to have been killed in action on September 5th. He enlisted before he was 17 at the first great recruiting meeting held at the Coalville Olympia Theatre, and formerly worked at Bagworth Colliery. His father, Mr George Baker, works at Ellistown Colliery, and has an elder son serving in the forces in India.

Coalville Times article – Friday April 2nd, 1920



A tablet which has been placed in Hugglescote Parish Church, to the memory of men from the parish who fell in the war, was unveiled by Lt.-Colonel R. E. Martin, C.M.G., on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large congregation.

The tablet is of excellent design, in keeping with the handsome edifice, and is of a permanent character, the names of 101 men being inscribed on Swithland slate, set in a frame of Ketton stone, surmounted by a cross and crown encircled in a carved laurel wreath, with similar carvings on either side. The inscription runs as follows:

“Their name liveth for evermore.”

“To the Glory of God, and in imperishable memory of the men of the parish who fell in the great war, 1914 – 1918.”

The names of the men inscribed on the tablet are as follows:-

H. A. Attwood, C. T. Beadman, J. Brooks, W. Baker, J. E. Briggs, H. G. Blackham, J. T. Bishop, J. Barrs, G. Barrs, R. Beadman, E. Bonser, G. Beale, J. G. Bennett, E. S. Boot, W. Berrisford, F. J. Betteridge, F. P. Benistone, J. W. Cawley, F. Chamberlain, J. A. Crookes, R. A. Cross, L. Cross, J. Cox, P. Cliff, J. W. F. Collier, C. Drewett, H. B. Drewett, S. Dodds, A. Elkin, H. C. Elkin, J. Farn, H. Fletcher, H. Finch, L. Finch, G. Firban, G. Gadsby, A. Gamble, S. F. Gamble, W. Gray, W. O. Hoden, O. Hallam, B. Hatter, J. Haywood, W. Hill, F. Hill, J. E. Hibbert, G. Hart, G. H. Highfield, E. Harper, J. W. Harper, H. Hall, J. E. Holmes, J. Jones, W. Jones, F. J. Kirby, I. V. Kelham, H. Lewis, W. Lewis, W. Massey, H. O. Moseley, T. Marriott, G. Martin, J. A. Moult, J. Maunders, J. Moon, I. Mycroft, W. Newbold, O. H. Pratt, J. A. Pegg, F. Pink, E. H. Palmer, W. Riley, A. T. Richardson, W. Rogers, C. Simmons, E. A. Stinchcombe, J. Summers, S. Summers, C. Shilton, G. Slatter, J. Smith, J. C. Shaw, S. Smith, G. Spencer, S. C. Smith, J. W. Setchell, W. Statham, A. G. Tovell, S. T. Timson, J. Tebbatt, F. Whitmore, E. Willett, B. Walker, H. Watson, C. H. Walker, J. Woods, T. Willett, A. Wright, A. Wood, J. Young and W. Young.

As the congregation passed into the church, members of the Hugglescote Church Lads’ Brigade, with the ex-Sergt.-Major W. Hill in charge, lined up on either side of the entrance and two of the Brigade with bowed heads and leaning on reversed rifles, stood by the memorial, covered with the Union Jack.

The service, which was very impressive, was conducted by the Rev. Canon Broughton (vicar) and opened with the hymn, “Stand up for Jesus.” Then followed prayers and collects. Psalm 130, and a lesson read by the Rev. J. C. Wallace, after which the clergy and choir proceeded to the memorial, led by the churchwardens, Messrs. W. E. Canner and J. W. Fletcher.

In unveiling the tablet, Colonel Martin said “To the glory of God and in imperishable memory of the men of this parish who fell in the great war 1914 – 1918, I unveil this tablet, which has been erected by their fellow parishioners in grateful recognition of their self-sacrifice.”

The “Last Post” having been sounded by buglers of the Church Lads’ Brigade, the choir and clergy returned to their places and Colonel Martin gave an address from the chancel steps.

He spoke of the memorable days in August 1914, when the principles on which our national life is based were being assailed, and it was the part of every true man to stand in defence of them. They had tangible proof that the spirit which was then evoked in the nation was the same spirit as that shown by their forefathers who went out to fight country’s enemies. He would never forget the day about the end of August, 1914, when the North Midland Territorial Division, which had been mobilised about three weeks, was told to fill up its ranks for service abroad. It fell to him, among others, to come back into Leicestershire to try and explain to the people what they were up against, and he remembered what a splendid response they gave. In the North Midland Division, between 80 and 90 per cent of the men said they were prepared to go anywhere, though many of them were married men who had never experienced Army service before. Many things have happened since – much self-seeking, a desire to get rich quickly, many apparent inequalities of justice and self-sacrifice – but he was sure they could all take comfort from the fact that there was tangible proof given in those days that the nation was sound at heart and could be trusted to do the right thing when the crisis really arose. And what happened when the armies got overseas and began their real work? He ventured to say that no one had the privilege of serving in a better battalion. The men from that district – Coalville men they always called them – were a splendid lot of men filled with genuine enthusiasm for fitting themselves for the part which they had to play, and who on getting across the water, proved themselves as good as the best. He went on to speak of evidences of practical Christianity displayed by the men, and of deeds of heroism which came to his notice. One instance he recalled was when they were between Hill 60 and Ypres. When the Brigadier realised that he had in the ranks men accustomed to mining, he formed a number of Coalville men into a mining section, whose duty it was to construct projecting galleries in front of the trenches, to find out if the Germans were under-mining. One day a member of the party came across a German mine filled with German explosives in large quantities, and it would have been a very natural thing for him to want to get away from it as soon as possible, but instead of that, he crawled over the top and disconnected the mine and came back and reported it to his commanding officer. This man, whose name was Starbuck, had no thought for his own safety, but first took steps to safeguard his comrades.

Proceeding, Col. Martin said his services came to an end in October, 1915, but he had always felt ever since then that the war had been worth while, if for nothing else than for the fine spirit it brought out, and if the same spirit could be shown in regard to present day problems, it would go a long way towards reaching a solution. He was not one of those who said this country ought to have stood aside and have taken advantage of the trade while other countries were fighting. The people, who said that, he thought, were wrong. He thought that what the people of this country did when they found what they were up against should be an example and pattern to them now. If the war had done nothing else, with all the misery, self-sacrifice and sorrow, he believed they were worth while because they afforded the opportunity which was taken by so many of showing a truly Christian spirit. He believed that experience had not been lost, but would help them to get through present day difficulties with credit to themselves.

The closing hymn was 11, “For all the saints,” and a collection was taken for St. Dunstan’s Hostel for Blind Soldiers and Sailors. As the congregation were leaving the church, Mr F. Baxter (organist) played, “O, rest in the Lord.” Before and after the service, peals were rung with the bells half-muffled.

Research undertaken and submitted by Andy Murby 24/12/2017

Leicestershire Project Findings
  • Conflict - World War I
  • Cause of death - KILLED IN ACTION
  • Burial Place - I V 26, Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe
  • Other Memorials - Coalville War Memorial Clock Tower, Millfield Recreation Ground Hugglescote

View Memorials Related To This Casualty