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  • The commonwealth wargrave headstone marking the grave of Walter Wiilis at the Retford Baptist Churchyard. 
Courtesy of Peter Gillings
Person Details
Retford, Nottinghamshire
Frank Willis, a farm labourer, married Mary Elizabeth Powell at Retford in 1888. Their first son, George was born in Drayton, Notts in the same year. Within a couple of years they moved to Retford, living at Cooks Cottage on the North Road where Frank took employment as a horseman on a farm. Before the end of the century they had another four sons born to them, Walter William in 1890, Alfred 1892, James Herbert 1894 and Harold born 1898. It took a further 12 years before the couple finally produced a girl born to them, who they named Doris born in 1910. By 1911, Harold, Herbert and Doris were still living in the Retford family home with Alfred in lodgings in as a labourer in Gainsborough, and George and Walter as two of 9 boarders residing under Great North Railway Fire Brigade Officer Patrick Bennett at the GNR Fire Station, Bridge Terrace, Hexthorpe, Doncaster. George was working as a machine man, and Walter as a bricklayer. Of the five sons only George did not join the army , his brothers served in the Army and two of them , Harold , was killed in action on the 26th August 1917 and finally two weeks following the armistice on 24th November 1918 Walter died of influenza never having been to the front. One can only imagine the devastating effect this loss had on the family.
He was employed by the great northern railway In 1916 he went to Doncaster and worked for the Corporation in the Electrical Works
24 Nov 1918
28
2749926 - CWGC Website
M/416924
Private
Motor Transort Depot (Sydenham) Army Service Corps
Walter enlisted on 9th November 1918 at Ripon , he was at various training camps and while at Croydon camp was struck down by influenza and died on 24th November 1918.He was buried at home in Retford Baptist Church Yard.
Pte Walter Willis Retford Times 6th December 1918 Fortnight in Army. The death of a Retford soldier took place at Croydon Hospital on Monday week, at the age of 28 years. This was Pte Walter Willis A.S.C. second son of Mr and Mrs F Willis, Glebe Farm, North Road, Retford. He was formerly employed on the G.N.R. and two years ago removed to Doncaster in the service of the Corporation at the Electrical Works. he only joined up on November 9th last, at Ripon, and was at other camps before being sent to Croydon, where he was struck down with influenza. The eldest son, George, is on the G.N.R at Doncaster: third son Alfred is in the Coldstream Guards: fourth son , Herbert, M.G.C and is in Mesopotamia and the fifth son, Harold, was killed in France on August 26th 1917. The interment took place on Friday in the Retford baptist Burial Ground. The chief mourners were Mrs Willis (widow) Mr and Mrs F Willis (parents) Mr and Mrs Green, March (parents of widow); Mrs Alfred Willis, London (sister in law): Mr and Mrs W Dunstan (uncle and aunt ) Mrs Willis, Upton (great grandmother): Mrs Wilkinson, Sutton (aunt) ; Miss Wilkinson, Mr W Turver , Upton, Mr S Turver, Fenton (uncle); and Mr F Bowman (cousin) Rev W F Dart (pastor) officiated, and Mrs dart was at the organ, two hymns being sung at the first part of the service held in the Chapel. Wreaths were sent " From his heart broken mother and dad " " Sorrowing wife and child " ; Little Doris; Alf and Cissie: aunt Annie and Will and cousins. A memorial service was held at the Baptist Church on Sunday evening, when the pastor referred to the days when the deceased and his brothers were associated with the Sunday School.
Remembered on

Photos

  • The commonwealth wargrave headstone marking the grave of Walter Wiilis at the Retford Baptist Churchyard. 
Courtesy of Peter Gillings
    Walter Willis - The commonwealth wargrave headstone marking the grave of Walter Wiilis at the Retford Baptist Churchyard. Courtesy of Peter Gillings