Private William Beasley, 16531

  • Batt - 1
  • Unit - Leicestershire Regiment
  • Section - "b" Company
  • Date of Birth -
  • Died - 11/09/1917
  • Age -

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Source: Michael Doyle Their Name Liveth For Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland.
The War Diary for today records that the Battalion entered the front line. At 2.15am Relief reported complete. Disposition as follows:- B Company right front line. A Company left front line. C Company support. D Company reserve. Battalion HQ’s Bugs Alley. Sector, Hill 70 sector. Quiet day in line. At 8.00am Warning order received advising our relief night of 14th/15th by a unit of the 18th Infantry Brigade. Casualties, other ranks A Company 1 killed and 2 wounded. B Company 1 killed and 5 wounded.

Source: Leicestershire War Memorials Project.
Coalville Times article - Friday November 12th, 1915

Whitwick Soldier Erroneously Reported Killed - Parents receive a welcome letter

Happily, a report that Pte. William Beasley, of the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, had been killed in action has proved to be untrue. It originated from a statement by a man who said he had seen it in a letter from a soldier at the front that Beasley fell in the recent fighting. The news came to the knowledge of his parents, Mr and Mrs Beasley, of the Hermitage Hotel, Whitwick, who were naturally much distressed.

Their joy on receiving a letter which disproved the rumour can be better imagined than described. The letter is dated November 8th, several days after that on which the soldier was said to have been killed, and in it the writer says he is in the front line of trenches and had had a very near shave, but came through all right. He had had a big shock, but was all right now and doing well. This is Pte. Beasley’s second time at the front. After being in France for a time, he was invalided home with rheumatic fever and having recovered is now back again in the trenches.

Coalville Times article - Friday December 3rd, 1915

Letter from two Coalville boys in the trenches - Mean to avenge their comrades' deaths.

Pte. William Beasley and Pte. J. Hart, both of the Leicestershire Regiment, writes from the front in France stating that they are in the best of health, and continue: “We are sorry to see in the “Coalville Times” the lot of Coalville boys that are getting killed, but we are trying our best to avenge their deaths, and we will do so before we finish. We have just come out of the trenches after a very strenuous 14 days. I reckon it is a well-earned rest. What do you say? We have been fighting where the last big attack was at Hooge. We think the Germans know it is quite impossible to advance round this part, but we keep on giving it to them thick and heavy. I should like you to contradict the rumour that people have got in Coalville and Whitwick about me (Beasley) being dead. For as you can see I am well alive and mean to be for I have not done with those devils the other side yet. Me and my friend Joseph Hart, have had more than one narrow escape, but they have not caught us bending yet and I’m sure they are not likely to just yet, not before we give them another good tying up and they won’t be long before they get that. It is the second time out for both me and my chum. We have both been to the second battalion and now we are with the first battalion. I am sending this letter with a chum of mine from Coalville, another of the boys is coming on furlough. I don’t suppose we shall be long before we come too. I am sorry to tell you that Mick Reed, one of my chums from Coalville, was accidently shot. I suppose you know him. His brother Joe has been with me, but he is now mining.

We hope the remainder of the Coalville boys will answer their country’s call and come and help us to avenge the deaths of their friends, for the quicker they come up, the sooner the end will be in sight. I don’t think it is in sight yet. We both wish the people of Coalville a merry Christmas – Yours faithfully, Pte. W. Beasley, 16531, B. Co., 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, B.E.F., France, and Pte. J. Hart, 10650, A. Co., same regiment.”

Beasley is a son of Mr and Mrs C. Beasley of the Hermitage Hotel, Whitwick.

Coalville Times article - Friday December 1st, 1916

WHITWICK SOLDIER ON LEAVE

Private Wm. Beasley, of the Leicestershire Regiment, son of Mr and Mrs Chas. Beasley, of the Hermitage Hotel, Whitwick, has arrived home on ten days’ leave – the first he has had since going to France 16 months ago.
The young soldier, who is only 20 years of age, having enlisted when he was 18, is looking remarkably well, in excellent health, and is wonderfully cheerful, though he has had some thrilling experiences. It will be remembered that a few months ago he was reported as having been killed in action. The report originated through a statement to that effect being made in a letter from another Whitwick soldier, a pal of Beasley’s who was under a wrong impression. Beasley was out on patrol duty, and was lost from his regiment for two days – hence the report – but he turned up again smiling.
During his 16 months at the Front, Beasley has been in seven or eight charges, and has come through them all unscathed. He was joined in the trenches by Private H. Parish, whose parents live only a few doors away from the Hotel in Hermitage Road, and saw Parish fatally shot in the first charge in which he participated. These two Whitwick lads shook hands and wished each other luck just before jumping over the parapet.
Beasley is returning to France on Monday, and will take with him the wishes of many friends that the good luck which has so far attended him may remain with him to the end. He is wonderfully optimistic and, as a friend remarked to the writer, about the most cheerful soldier one could meet, who has returned from the Somme.

Coalville Times article – Friday September 21st, 1917

Local Casualties

Intimation has been received from the Infantry Record Office, Lichfield, by Mr and Mrs Charles Beasley, of the Hermitage Hotel, Coalville, that their only son, Private William Beasley, of the Leicestershire Regiment, died on September 11th in a casualty clearing station in France from wounds received in action. A letter giving the same sad news has also been received from a nurse in hospital. Prior to this, Mr and Mrs Beasley had had a notice from Lichfield that the deceased was dangerously ill, having a compound fracture of the right arm and thigh, and that permission to visit him could not be granted. The nurse stated in her letter that the soldier passed away at 1.30 pm on the 11th from gunshot wound. He was conscious up to a short time before he died. Everything possible was done to save his life and ease his pain. A Roman Catholic chaplain was with him when he died and the deceased was buried in a military cemetery in the town. She expressed sympathy with the parents in their great loss. Private Beasley was 21 years of age, and formerly worked at the Whitwick Colliery. He joined Kitchener’s Army immediately on the outbreak of war, and had been three years in France, during which he once came home on leave.

Coalville Times article - Friday February 15th, 1918.

WAR MEMORIAL UNVEILED AT WHITWICK

TABLET IN HOLY CROSS CHURCH

The Bishop of Nottingham, the Rev. Father Dunn, unveiled a memorial tablet in the Whitwick Holy Cross Church, on Sunday containing the names of 12 men, formerly connected with the church, who have made the supreme sacrifice in the war. The names and dates each recorded on small square bronze plates, and fixed on the tablet in three columns, are as follows:

Private James Cairns, Connaught Rangers, killed in action, August 21st, 1915.
Private A. C. Johnstone, 8th Leicesters, killed in action, September 1st, 1915.
Sapper B. Whittaker, 2nd Leicesters, killed in action, September 25th, 1915.
Private Edward Jarvis, Grenadier Guards, killed in action, October 17th, 1915.
Private Ed Hunt, 2nd Leicesters, killed in action, January 7th, 1916.
Private C. Stanford, 8th Leicesters, killed in action, July 14th, 1916.
Private Jos. Sheffield, 2nd Leicesters, killed in action, September 26th, 1916.
Lance-Corporal B. Morley, 2nd Leicesters, killed in action, April 23rd, 1917.
Private Harold Edwin Ketcher, 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action, June 16th, 1917
Corporal A. Concannon, M.M. Sherwood Foresters, killed in action, July 31st, 1917.
Private William Beasley, 1st Leicesters, killed in action, September 11th, 1917.
Rifleman L. Haywood, Scottish Rifles, torpedoed at sea, December 30th, 1917.

The tablet, which is surmounted by a crucifix, reads, “In memory of our devoted heroes who fell in the great war. Your prayers are requested for the repose of the souls of (names)”.

At the foot appear the words, “May they rest in peace.” Space is left for the addition of any further names if this becomes necessary. There was a large congregation, including the relatives of the deceased soldiers, and after the unveiling, a memorial service was held. This was conducted by the Rev. M. J. O’Reilly, assisted by Father Degan of Coalville, and the Bishop preached the sermon.

Coalville Times article - Friday September 13th, 1918

IN MEMORIAM

In loving memory of William Beasley, 1st Leicesters, died of wounds in France, September 11th, 1917. Aged 22 years.

“There’s a lonely grave in France,
Where a brave young hero lies,
There’s a cottage home in England
Where his dear ones sit and weep.
A true and loving son,
Our darling boy, who thought
When you kissed us last goodbye
It would be forever, grief?”

“Rest in Peace.”

From his loving Mother and Father, Hermitage Hotel.

Research undertaken and submitted (including photograph from the Coalville Times) by Andy Murby 10/09/2017

Leicestershire Project Findings
  • Conflict - World War I
  • Cause of death - DIED OF WOUNDS
  • Burial Place - Vi G 43, Bethune Town Cemetery
  • Other Memorials - Coalville War Memorial Clock Tower
Research from Michael Doyle's Their Name Liveth For Evermore
  • Unit - Leicestershire Regiment
  • Cause of death - DIED OF WOUNDS
  • Burial Commemoration - Bethune Town Cem., France
  • Born - Whitwick, Leics
  • Enlisted - Coalville, Leics
  • Memorial - ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CHYRD. MEM., WHITWICK, LEICS
  • Memorial - CLOCK TOWER MEM., COALVILLE, LEICS
  • Memorial - CHRIST CHURCH, COALVILLE, LEICS
  • Memorial - COUNCIL OFFICE MEM., COALVILLE, LEICS

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