William Mearn, Private 201499, 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Killed in action 23rd March 1918 in France, aged 21
William Mearn was born in Macclesfield in 1896, the son of Emma Mearn, a charwoman. In 1901, four-year-old William was living with his mother at 3 Baker St, Macclesfield.
William’s mother died on 20 September 1905 at the age of 46 and was buried on 23 September in Macclesfield Cemetery. William then went to live with his uncle, Thomas Mearn, and his family at 9 Statham St, Macclesfield.
William was educated at St Alban’s School, achieving standard grade V, and on 27 September 1909 he enrolled at Macclesfield Technical School to further his education. In 1911, fourteen year old William was employed as a silk embroiderer and living at 9 Statham St with his aunt and uncle, Harriet and Thomas Mearn, and cousins Mary Ann (32), Agnes (22), Ellen (20) and Bertha (17).
William seems to have enlisted in Oxford, first joining the 1/4th battalion of the Oxford & Bucks regiment with service number 4349. After training he was drafted to France on 28 June 1915.
In 1917 William was reported to be injured but he must have recovered from his injuries and returned to the front. He was later reported missing and it was some time before it was officially assumed that he had been killed in action, as he appears on the Macclesfield absent voters lists for 1918 and 1919.
Private William Mearn is commemorated on Panel Ref. 50 and 51 of the Pozieres Memorial. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Mearn, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Family History Society of Cheshire (FHSC): Macclesfield Catholics CD – Baptism and Burial transcriptions
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books (Find My Past): Macclesfield Technical School
WWI Britain Absent Voters’ Lists (Find My Past)
Lives of the First World War website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website