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William was the only son of William Wilkinson and Priscilla Heath nee Hutton. William Wilkinson Heath was the son of Charles and Eliza and born in London in 1864 (O/N/D Pancras London). He was baptised on 25 December in Ryde, Hampshire. Priscilla was born in Clapham, London, the daughter of Albert Hutton. William and Priscilla were married on 24 May 1885 at St Luke's Derby; both were 21 years old. William and Priscilla had seven children: Minnie b. 19 July 1885 (1895 J/A/S Derby) baptised on 4 November 1885 Derby St Luke, Emma Louisa b. 24 April 1887 (A/M/J 1887) bap 12 June 1887 Derby St Luke, Florence May birth registered 1889 (J/F/M Derby) bap. 7 April 1889 Derby St Luke, Priscilla Elizabeth b. 1 January 1892 (1892 J/F/M Derby) baptised 7 February 1892, Annie Laura b. 16 December 1893 (1894 J/F/M Nottingham) bap. 8 July 1894 Derby St Luke, William Charles b. 1895 (O/N/D Derby) bap. 24 November 1895 Derby All Saints, and Rose Mabel b. 5 December 1903 (1904 J/F/M Derby) bap 28 January 1904 Derby Christ Church. All the children were born in Derby. In 1891 William (26), a timber bender, and Priscilla (27) were living at 72 Stockbrook Street, Derby, with their three daughters Minnie (5), Emma (3) and Florence (2). By 1901 William and Priscilla were living at 31 Normanton Road, Derby, with five of their six children: Emma (13) a tailoress, Florence (12), Priscilla (9), Annie (7) and William (5). Their eldest daughter Minnie (15) was visiting relatives in Derby on the night of the census, staying with Mary Hutton (widow) and her son Albert. The family was living at 36 Norton Street, Radford, by 1911 and may have already been in Nottingham for several years as William and Priscilla's fourth daughter Priscilla Elizabeth had married James Edward Wragg, who lived in Beeston, in 1910 (J/F/M Nottingham). Five of William and Priscilla's children were still living at home in 1911; Florence (22) a machinist/tailoress, Annie (17) a sewing hand/tailoress, William (15) an apprentice timber bender, and Rose Mabel (7). At the time of the same census the eldest daughter, Minnie (25), a dressmaker on her own account, was living at 5 St Mary's Gate, Derby, in the household of her uncle, Edwin John Hutton (33) and his wife and two young daughters. Priscilla Wragg (19) and her husband James (20) who was unemployed, were living with his father, Edward Wragg (41) and his family at 88 Lower Regent Street, Beeston. Priscilla and James, who had been married for a year, had had one child who had died in infancy. William's father died in 1923 (December Nottingham) aged 59 and his mother died in 1950 (March Nottingham) aged 86.
In 1911 he was an apprentice timber bender.
27 May 1918
1438681 - CWGC Website
He was living in Radford when he enlisted.
South Nottinghamshire Hussars
William was lost when HMT Leasowe Castle, was sunk by submarine in the Mediterranean on passage from Alexandria, Egypt. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial. The following account is by a local resident and posted on the Woodborough village website. The Hussars had been fighting in the Middle East and they were returning to France where they were to be re-formed as a machine gun company. Their new title was to be the South Notts Machine Gun Battalion. They were sent to Alexandria, Egypt and had received orders to embark on a transport ship called the "Leasowe Castle" on 23th May 1918 ¹. On 27th May, the ship was struck by a torpedo with devastating results. A very detailed account of the fateful journey may be read in the historical records of the South Notts Hussars Yeomanry by G. Fellows. The "Leasowe Castle" was one of a convoy of six transporters and they were accompanied by a number of destroyers. The weather was good, the sea was calm and a brilliant moon shone in the night sky. At 1.30 am on May 27th 1918 when the ship was about 104 miles from Alexandria, the "Leasowe Castle" was struck by a torpedo on the starboard side. The engines were immediately stopped. The troops mustered to their stations, rolls were called, boats lowered and rafts flung overboard. The Japanese destroyer "R" stood by, while the remainder of the convoy continued on their journey at full speed. We are informed that perfect order was maintained on board, the men standing quietly at their stations as if on parade, while those detailed for the work assisted in lowering the boats. Lifeboats were launched in the course of forty five minutes and the rescue attempt continued smoothly. The "Leasowe Castle" remained fairly steady, though sinking a little at the stern, with a slight list to port. All of 'B' (Warwickshire Yeomanry) Company of the Battalion went over the port side and were picked up in the water. About 1.45am. HM sloop "Lily" appeared having turned back from the convoy to assist in the work of rescue. She ran her bows up to the starboard side of the "Leasowe Castle" and made fast, so that troops were able to pass quickly on board. Meanwhile the Japanese destroyer put up a smoke screen for protection. Suddenly about 3.00am a bulkhead in the aft part of the ship gave way, and with a loud noise the "Leasowe Castle" sank rapidly. The "Lily" had a narrow escape, as the hawsers connecting her with the sinking ship were cut with an axe just in time.
Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 6 February 1919: ‘Heath, Missing, believed drowned May 27th 1918, and officially reported drowned on that date, Trooper William Charles Heath, 1/1 South Nots Hussars, aged 22, the dearly loved and only son of Mr and Mrs Heath, 3(-) Norton-street, Radford. A noble life laid down. From his sorrowing father, mother, and sisters.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 27 May 1919: ‘Heath. In loving memory of our dear son, Pte. William Charles Heath, 1/1st South Notts. Hussars, drowned May 27th, 1918. To have, to love, to hold, and when God wills, to take. From his loving mother, fathers, sisters, brothers-in-law Will, Ted, Ernest, and Harry, (-) Norton-street, Radford.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 27 May 1920: ‘Heath. In ever-loving memory of Pte William Charles Heath, South Notts. Hussars, drowned May 27th, 1918, the dearly-loved and only son of Mr and Mrs Heath, 38 Norton-street, Radford. Cherished memories. Mother, father and sisters.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his father William was his legatee.
Remembered on