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  • Name inscribed on the CWGC screen wall, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings (January 2020).
Person Details
Hanley Rundall Surrey
William was adopted as a baby by John Bilton. He was 14 years 4 months old when he joined the army in August 1894 as a Boy (later Bugler) and transferred to the ranks (private) on 27 April 1898 when he would have been 18 years old so it is likely that his date of birth was accepted as 27 April 1880. A letter in William's service record written by John Bilton to the OIC Records (Litchfield) on 22 April 1919, reads: 'Sir, With reference to the attached AFW5080 I beg to inform you that I am unable to fill it in as I know nothing about the late W Bilton’s relatives, as far as I know he has none living. He was adopted by me when he was a baby in arms, his mother was unmarried and the father I never knew, and I have lost the (-) of his mother but I know that she married about 30 years ago, but whether she is now living or not I do not know. I am etc etc' John Bilton was born in Foggathorpe, Yorkshire, and in 1851 at the age of four was living at the Black Swan Inn, Foggathorpe, Howden, Yorkshire East Riding, with his parents Hugh and Harriet Bilton. John joined the Army Ordnance Corps and held the rank of Conductor when William also joined the Corps in 1894. He was still serving as a Conductor in the Corps in 1901 when he was living on Warley Road, Shenfield, Billericay, Essex, with his wife Mary Ann (50). John (64) had retired from the army by 1911 when he was described on the census as an army pensioner ('warrant officer'). He and Mary were living at 47 Pownall Crescent, Colchester, Essex, and this was still John's address in 1919 and when the later CWGC record was compiled. William enlisted in the Army Ordnance Corps on 27 August 1894 and was discharged on 4 February 1905 having served in South Africa and Hong Kong (see 'Military History'). When William attested in Nottingham in 1914 he confirmed that he had lived 'outside his father's house for over three years', answering 'Yes (Nottingham)' on the form. A William Bilton has been found on the 1911 Census living at 65 Queen's Walk, Meadows, Nottingham. The form was completed and signed by a Sarah Wilcox who gave the information that William was 32 years old, born in London and a 'public house worker'; she described him as head of household but that he occupied only one room. Sarah Wilcox completed another census return in her own right, giving the same address, 65 Queen's Walk; she was 42 years old, a widow, and a boarding house keeper. Although William appears to have been living in Nottingham since at least 1911 UKSDGW gives his residence as Colchester, Essex, suggesting that William considered his adoptive father's address as his permanent home. He also nominated John Bilton as his next of kin ('father') when he attested in 1914. His mother was described as deceased although there is a record of the death of a Mary Ann Bilton in 1922 (J/F/M Colchester Essex, b. 1851). John Bilton probably died in 1934 (J/A/S Colchester Essex) aged 87.
He was a clerk when he joined the Army Ordnance Corps in 1894, serving to February 1905. He was employed in a public house in 1911 as a clerk when he attested in November 1914.
30 Dec 1915
2750357 - CWGC Website
Enlisted Nottingham
Colour Sergeant
19th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
William Bilton joined the Army Ordnance Corps as a Boy (0330) on 27 August 1894 when he was 14 years and 4 months old. He was appointed Bugler on 21 July 1895 and transferred to the ranks (private) on 27 April 1898; promoted lance corporal 1 April 1902 and 2nd corporal 12 October 1902. He served at Home from 27 August 1894-17 March 1900; South Africa 18 March 1900-27 June 1903; Home 28 June 1903-6 December 1903; Hong Kong, 7 December 1903-31 January 1905; Home 1 February 1905-4 February 1905. He was discharged 'services being no longer required' on 4 February having served for 10 years 162 days. He was awarded the South Africa (1899-1902) campaign medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal. He attested in Nottingham on 19 November 1914 in the Army Reserve (Special Reservists), 'One Year's Service', declaring his previous service in the Army Ordnance Corps ('10 years 9 months'). He joined the 15th Bn Sherwood Foresters on 19 November and was promoted corporal the same day and to colour sergeant on 9 July 1915. He transferred to the 19th (Res) Bn on 18 August 1915. Wiliam was serving with the 19th (Res) Bn at Brocklesby Camp, Lincolnshire, when he was diagnosed with incipient phthisis [pulmonary tuberculosis] in October 1915. He was admitted to the Carrington Military Hospital Nottingham [Carrington Schools Military Hospital] on 11 November 1915. His condition worsened and he died at 11.15pm on 30 December 1915 having been in hospital for 49 days. His service record was annotated that he was discharged 'no longer physically fit for war service' but the date is unclear on the form. He was buried in Nottingham General Cemetery and is commemorated on the CWGC screen wall (03356.).
CWGC: 'Adopted son of John Bilton, 47 Pownall Crescent, Colchester, Essex.' UKSDGW incorrectly gives place of birth as Hanley 'Staffordshire' Brocklesby Hall and Brocklesby park estate, West Lindsey, Lincolnshire, nr. Immingham. Part of the estate was used as a training camp in the Great War. His service record includes extensive medical notes although some of the copies are poor. Examples (abridged): Medical report, Military Hospital Carrington, 2 December 1915. 'C/Sgt Wm Bilton, age last birthday 35. Phthisis. Date of origin of disability August 1915, Brockleslby Camp Lincs,. He states that he was quite well until the latter part of August 1915, when he developed a cough which has continued ever since. He states that he has lost flesh and has had night sweats for the last two months. There has been no haemeophy.' Another report notes that he was employed on 'ordinary military service' and that the cause of his disability might be attributed to 'Being confined to the orderly room with clerical duties for long hours and not enough fresh air.' Phthisis: 'Any disease that causes wasting of the body, esp pulmonary tuberculosis' (Collins Dictionary) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 1 January 1916: ‘Bilton. On the 30th ult., at Carrington Hospital, Col. Sergt. Bilton, the 19th Sherwood Foresters. At rest.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: no legatee named.
Remembered on


  • Name inscribed on the CWGC screen wall, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings (January 2020).
    William Bilton - Name inscribed on the CWGC screen wall, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings (January 2020).