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William J Stonham and William R Brown

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William J Stonham (also spelt Stoneham) was born in 1897 to Joseph and Ruth Stonham of Yeatsall Cottages. William’s father was a gardener and he had moved from Sussex to Abbots Bromley to work on the Blithfield Hall Estate. On the 1911 census, William is living and working at a farm in Newton Hurst, Admaston. We know from Medal Records that William arrived in France as a trained soldier in June 1915 which meant he had volunteered in late 1914 when he was 16 or 17 years old. He could not lawfully volunteer for the army until his 18th birthday, plus soldiers were not allowed to go overseas until they were 19 years of age. Unfortunately, we know little about his military life due to records being destroyed along with many others during the London blitz of the 2nd World War. However, we do know that William enlisted in Burton on Trent to the 6th Battalion The East Kent Regiment “The Buffs”. At the beginning of March 1916, the British detonated enormous explosions under German trenches and several huge craters were created which each side tried to occupy. On the 5th of March 1916, William’s Battalion were charged to hold a trench known as the ‘Kaiserine’ and two craters in British hands. Sadly during this operation, three men were wounded and three killed, one of them being William Joseph Stonham age just 18. William is recorded on the Loos Memorial (Dud Corner Cemetery) in France. RIP William Stonham.

William Richard Brown was born in March 1893 to Eli and Beatrice Brown of Church Lane. In 1897 Richard as he was known started Richard Clarke School. In 1901 the family were living in Rugeley Road now Goose Lane. The 1911 census have the family living in Rose Cottage, Blithbury where William is now 18 and his occupation is Hay Trusser.When war broke out William was most likely exempt from Active Service due to his job but in February 1916 in Stafford William enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery. In April 1916 he was posted to France and by May 1916 he’s listed as a gunner with the 6th Siege Battery.Sadly, on the 21st of August 1917, William was killed in action and is buried in the Maple Leaf Cemetery, Belgium. His belongings were sent home to his father Eli at Rose Cottage, Blithbury – the box contained amongst other items, three rosaries, one metal crucifix, one celluloid crucifix and two religious books. William was 24 years old. RIP William Richard Brown

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