William Blundell, Private 1474, 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action 8th March 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 25
William Blundell was baptised on 23rd June 1890 at St Peter’s Church, Liverpool, the son of Mary and James Christopher Blundell, a night watchman of Clayton Street, Liverpool. In 1891, ten month old William was living at Court 5 House 1 Clayton Street, Liverpool, with his parents and siblings Henry (16), Ellen (12), Mary (8) and James (5). His oldest sister, Hannah, had already left home.
William’s father died in 1898, and in 1901 James and William were living in Liverpool’s Mount Pleasant orphanage. Ten years later in 1911, William, then aged 20, was a private in the 3rd Manchester Regiment, stationed at the Hutment Barracks at Fleetwood.
William probably completed his term of service with the army soon after the census was taken, as he married 21 year old Esther Ann Ford on 7th August 1911 at St Stephen’s Church, Willenhall, near Wolverhampton. Esther’s father, William Ford, was also a soldier. William and Esther had a daughter, Mary, born in the Wolverhampton area in late 1911, and a son, Thomas, born in late 1916, after William’s death.
William lodged with his sister in Macclesfield prior to the outbreak of war, and was employed at Crewe railway works.
William was mobilised as a reservist soon after the outbreak of war and entered France with his regiment on 1st January 1915. He was reported wounded on 12th April 1915, but must have recovered and rejoined his regiment.
The 1st Manchester Regiment left France on 10th December 1915 and moved to Mesopotamia, landing at Basra on 8th January 1916. William was reported missing on 8th March 1916 and in November 1917 he was officially assumed to have died on that date. His probable death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 29 September 1916, and confirmed in November 1917:
STRUGGLE WITH FOUR TURKS: MACCLESFIELD SOLDIER PRESUMED DEAD
Mrs Parry, 13 Derby St, Macclesfield, received on Sunday a War Office notification presuming the death of her brother, Pte William Blundell, Manchester Regt, who was officially reported missing on March 8th, 1916, while accompanying a force to the relief of General Townshend at Kut. Mrs Parry’s son, Corporal Charles Parry, also of the Manchesters, fought with his uncle in the engagement and afterwards wrote to his mother as follows: “It was on the 8th of March (1916) that Willie was reported missing. We were attacking a redoubt and got repulsed. A chap of our regiment who was with Willie told me he saw him shot through the head by a Turkish officer. I made enquiries and was informed that Willie was in the redoubt when he was attacked by four Turks. He shot one, killed one with his bayonet, and another with the butt of his rifle; then he was shot in the head by a Turkish officer. It is hard to say whether Willie is alive or not. I myself have very little hopes of seeing him alive again, for all our wounded were sent back to us.” Since then nothing has been heard of Pte Blundell, whom the War Office now presume died on or about the date in question.
Pte Blundell was 28 years of age and leaves a wife and child, who are now in Wolverhampton. He formerly made his home with Mrs Parry at Macclesfield and was mobilised as a Reservist at the outbreak of war, being at the time employed at the Crewe railway works. He had also been engaged in business in Macclesfield. Private Blundell went out to France with the original Expeditionary Force, and saw some heavy fighting. Subsequently he was transferred to the Kut relief force. His brother, Harry, served twelve years in the King’s Liverpool Regiment and went through the South African war, including the siege of Ladysmith. Corporal Parry, the nephew referred to, has been wounded, and is now stationed at Bangalore, India. Mrs Parry’s youngest son, Fred, is serving in the Navy.
Private William Blundell has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 31 and 64 of the Basra Memorial, Iraq. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Blundell, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Private William Blundell is commemorated on the Wolverhampton Roll of Remembrance.
Further information may be found on the Wolverhampton’s War website.