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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. Sometime after war was declared, two of the brothers, Walter and Harold became casualties which must have devastated the parents.
26 Aug 1917
822421 - CWGC Website
10th Bn Lincolnshire Regiment
Harold is known to enlist at Retford on January 7th 1917 , he went to France in May 1917 and was killed in action in the Somme region. He has no known grave and is one of over 72,000 men commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France Pte Harold Willis Retford Times 21 Sept 1917 Information reached Mr and Mrs Frank Willis at the Glebe Farm, North Road, Retford, on Saturday last, that their youngest son, Pt Harold Willis, Lincolns, had made the great sacrifice. The news came from a comrade in hospital at Bridgenorth, Shropshire who stated that on August 26th last, a large number of soldiers were buried alive and that only three of them escaped with their lives. The soldier who wrote the letter was one of the three. The deceased who was only 19 years of age was called to the colours on January 7th last, the day of his father’s birthday and was trained at Brockton Camp. He went out to France in the second week in May. He was of a quiet and willing disposition and he had never been away from home until he received his calling up papers. Pte Willis, like his brother, attended the National School at Retford and was a scholar of the West Retford Baptised Sunday School. Gunner J H Willis, a brother, is in training with a Machine Gun Corps at Belton Park, Grantham. Another brother, Alfred is in the Metropolitan Police Force and two others, Walter and George, are employed by the Electricity Works by the Doncaster Co-operation and by the Great Northern Railway, at Doncaster. The deepest sympathy is felt for Mr and Mrs Willis in their bereavement.
CWG additional information:- Son of Mrs. May Elizabeth Willis, of Glebe Farm, North Rd., Retford, Notts. His brother, Walter died 24/11/1918 and is buried in Retford Baptist Chapel Yard. Research by Colin Dannatt
Remembered on