LOOKING BACK - September 8 edition

Trevor Green hands over his book to William's grandson Graham
Trevor Green hands over his book to William's grandson Graham

Soldier William Vernon - update

You may remember back in February we ran an appeal to find the family of WWI soldier William Vernon, who died on the Somme in 1917. The Vernons were thought to have connections in the Rugby area.

WWI soldier William Vernon

WWI soldier William Vernon

Trevor Green from Lancashire had been in touch as he was writing a book about William, his grandmother’s youngest brother.

Well, there’s a happy ending to the story as the very morning the paper was printed the Vernon family contacted the Advertiser.

Six months later Trevor has presented them, as promised, with a copy of his book.

They met up at Huntington Community Centre, near Cannock, Staffordshire which itself holds a war memorial showing William Vernon’s name together with other miners from nearby Littleton Colliery who died in WWI.

William's wife Emma and son Leslie

William's wife Emma and son Leslie

Trevor also took the family to visit two other memorials in Cannock, together with William’s home where he was living at the time of his enlistment in 1914.

They now hope to visit Tavistock in Devon where William married Emma Jarman in December 1915. They want to attend a Dedication Service in Cannock later this month for new names being added to the Miners’ Memorial in Chadsmoor, near Cannock.

Huntington Parish Council hope to use the presentation as a catalyst to building a permanent memorial to the miners who died from Littleton where William was a coal face worker, along with his father and brothers. They already have a mine shaft wheel to form a centrepiece.

William enlisted at the outbreak of World War I and was posted to Wareham, Devon for his training.

William Vernon's name on the memorial at Huntington Community Centre near Cannock

William Vernon's name on the memorial at Huntington Community Centre near Cannock

He was billeted in a small hamlet called Lamerton where he met Emma Jarman, a domestic servant.

William embarked for France in August 1915, serving with the 8th Service Battalion, South Staffordshire, and returned on compassionate leave that December to marry Emma, who was expecting his child at the time.

Trevor, who has spent 25 years researching William’s personal and military life, believes it’s likely he returned to France before his son Leslie was born in January 1916 and may never have seen him. (The picture of Emma and Leslie was taken in Tavistock about 1918)

William was probably wounded by shellfire at the end of December 1916 and died in a military hospital in Rouen on February 7, 1917.