William Davenport, Private 34984, 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died 27th April 1918 in Rouen, France, aged 23
William Davenport was born on 25th September and baptised at St George’s Church, Sutton, Macclesfield on 27th October 1894, the son of Mary Elizabeth and Samuel Davenport, a silk weaver of 40 Byron Street, Macclesfield. In 1901, six year old William was living at that address with his parents and siblings Annie Louise (18), Harry (12), Fred (9), James Leo (8), Samuel (7), Caroline (5), Mary Elizabeth (3) and Ada (2).
William, a Wesleyan Methodist, was educated at Brunswick Wesleyan Centenary School and St George’s Branch School, achieving standard grade VI. After leaving school, William found employment as a silk piecer and on 21st September 1908 enrolled at Macclesfield Technical School with his older brother Samuel to further his education, returning alone in 1909 for another year.
By 1911 the family had moved to 28 Peel Street and William was employed as an apprentice boot maker at “K” Boot Shop, Mill Street, Macclesfield.
The family later moved to 38 High Street, Macclesfield.
William attested in Macclesfield on 14th February 1916 at the age of 21, joining the 3rd Cheshire Regiment. His service records describe him as a small man of 5 feet tall, weighing 95 pounds, with a 28 inch chest measurement. When he enlisted he was employed as a boot repairer, and he named his father, Samuel Davenport of 38 High Street, as his next of kin.
After training, William left Devonport on 28th August 1916 to join the 12th Cheshire Regiment in Salonika, arriving on 9th September 1916, where he was attached to the 9th South Lancashire Regiment (as stated on the Brunswick Memorial). He was admitted to the 4th Canadian General Hospital in Salonika on the 29th November 1916 and on 16th December was transferred via Hospital Ship Asturias to Floriana Hospital in Malta, suffering from Malaria. On 11th July 1917 he was invalided back to England on Hospital Transport Huntspill, and admitted to the Hahnemann Hospital, Liverpool, suffering from Malaria, DAH (disordered action of the heart) and ‘debility’. After almost three months in this hospital, on 29th October he was transferred to Southport Convalescent Hospital for a further month. William must have been given a few days leave and then reported to the Western Command Depot in Prescot on 9th December 1917. On 22nd January 1918 he was sent to France with the 6th Cheshire Regiment.
Two months later on 31st March 1918, William was admitted to hospital in Rouen suffering from nephritis (kidney disease). A telegram was sent to his parents on 26th April advising them that their son, previously stated to be seriously ill, was now dangerously ill in hospital in Rouen and unfortunately permission to visit could not be granted – either it was too dangerous for them to travel to Rouen, or perhaps the medical staff believed that William would die before his family arrived. Another telegram was sent on the 2nd May informing them that their son had died of nephritis at the 6th General Hospital, Rouen, on 27th April 1918. The cause of the illness was said to be “exposure & privation whilst on military duty.”
William’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 3 May 1918:
Pte William Davenport, Ches Regt, son of Mr and Mrs S Davenport, 38 High Street, Macclesfield, died in hospital in Rouen from nephritis following a chill. He enlisted over two years ago in the local territorials and contracted malaria in Salonika, being invalided to England. He underwent treatment in various hospitals and upon recovery was sent to France. Pte Davenport was 23 years of age and was educated at the Centenary School. He was connected with the Sunday School, and in civil life was employed at the “K” Boot Shop, Mill Street. Three brothers are serving, namely: Cpl Leo (who has been missing since March 21st); Pte Fred (now a prisoner in Turkey); and Pte Sam (serving in France).
William’s photograph and a brief report of his memorial service was printed in the Macclesfield Times on 10 May 1918:
A service to the memory of Pte W. Davenport… was held at Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel on Sunday evening. Members of the deceased family were present, and the Rev. G. B. Robson made an appropriate reference. The organist (Mr C E James) also played the funeral march.
Private William Davenport is buried in Grave Ref. P. XI. H. 3A. of the St Sever Cemetery Extension in France. His father asked for a cross and the words “Now the labourer’s task is o’er” to be added to his gravestone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Davenport, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private William Davenport is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and St George’s Church war memorials and the Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Church Roll of Honour. The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21 September 1921 included one with the words “In loving memory of Corporal J. L. Davenport, 2/9th North Staffs; also Private W. Davenport, 1/6th Cheshires.”
Brother of Cpl James Leo Davenport, who served with the 2/9th North Staffordshire regiment and died on 21st March 1918; Pte Fred Davenport, who served as Private 291116 with the 7th Cheshire Regt; and Pte Sam Davenport, who served as Drummer 40838 with the 8th North Staffordshire Regt.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers (Find My Past): St George’s Church, Sutton, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books (Find My Past)
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920 (Find My Past)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 3 and 10 May 1918
Macclesfield Courier: 24 September 1921