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William John Beesley

Driver, The Royal Engineers

(1879 - 1916)

Born in 1879 in Wadenhoe, son of Robert Bright Beesley (1850-1936) the blacksmith and Sarah the postmistress (who are buried in Wadenhoe churchyard), he followed his father into blacksmithing.

By 1902 he had met and married one of Lord Lilford's servants, Annie Elizabeth Langston, who worked at Lord Lilford's London residence. They initially lived there in London, having three children there, but by 1909 he was back blacksmithing in Oundle in Setchell's Yard, and Annie was a cook. They had two further children in Oundle.

At the beginning of WW1, at the age of 36, William joined the 487th (East Anglian) Field Company (2/2 East Anglian Field Company) in the 69th Division of the Royal Engineers, as part of the second line Territorial Force over in Norfolk. He was a Shoeing and Carriage Smith (S & C.S.), and Driver (of horses). He died there in Norfolk, aged 38, on 17 Jan 1916, and his grave is in Attleborough Cemetery.

The Royal Engineers Territorials helped the War effort at home with home/coastal defences, logistics, construction and repair, forestry, railways, and communication, and a blacksmith-come-driver came in very useful.

He is remembered in Wadenhoe by having his name read out on Remembrance Sunday at the War Memorial.