William Butcher

Thornton Cleveleys War Memorial 1914-1918 | Index

William Butcher was born in Fleetwood on 11 December 1887 and baptised at St. Peter's Parish Church on 22 January 1888. He was the eldest of three sons born to William Butcher senior (known as Will) and his wife Elsie Nicholson who married at St. Peter's on Christmas Day 1886.

HMS Newbury
EnlargeHMS Newbury
Will and Elsie made their home at 7 Aughton Street, Fleetwood. Two more sons were baptised at St. Peter: Thomas Darcy on 28 April 1889 and John on 5 July 1891. Will was a sail maker and rigger by trade and was well known in the town as the right back and captain of Fleetwood Rangers, a football club which prospered briefly during the the 1880s and 1890s. The club appears to have been dissolved in 1899 and it was around that time that the Butcher family moved to Hull where they would remain for some seventeen years.

In the Census taken on 31 January 1901, they were recorded at 11 Spring Gardens in the Newington district of Hull and were living next door at number 9 in the following Census. Young William became a dock labourer and on 8 October 1914 he married Edith Ann Woodall at the Church of St. Mary and St. Peter, Newington. Edith had been born in Hull on 9 June 1891, the only daughter of John William Woodall, a gas stoker, and his wife Paulina Ann Coates who were married at St. Andrew, Drypool, Hull on 9 February 1891. At first William and Edith lived at 24 Newington Street but they came to live in our area around 1916 when William's parents and brothers also returned.

William joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a Deck Hand. He served aboard HMS Newbury, a Racecourse-class paddle-streamer built in 1916 in Glasgow and intended for minesweeping operations in shallow coastal waters. The vessel survived an attack by German battleships whilst in the Dover Straits on the night of 14/15 February 1918. Twelve of Newbury's crew were killed. We do not know whether William was on board that night.

However, it was whilst serving on the Newbury the following year that William became ill with influenza and died from pneumonia on 2 March in Dover Hospital. He was aged 30. D/Hnd William Butcher, 19656 DA, Royal Naval Reserve, was buried in Grave 134 at Christ Church, Thornton. He was survived by his wife Edith and their daughter, Vera Ann, who was born in Blackpool on 13 October 1918.

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