PROCTOR, Ernest William

No.40923, Private, William PROCTOR
Aged 24

2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
formerly 2906, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 11th April 1917

Born Ernest William Proctor BUCKLE (2nd qtr 1893 Bury St.Edmunds 4a:763) son of Agnes BUCKLE. His mother married William Charles PROCTOR in qtr 4 1894. He is found as Ernest or William. No doubt known in his early days locally as Ernest to save confusion with his father.
CWGC have him as Ernest William, 'Soldiers Died' has him as William.

1901 census...Aged 7, he was at 127 Eastgate Street, Bury St.Edmunds with his father William PROCTOR [31] carter; his mother Agnes [25] born Badwell Ash; sister Edith [5] and brother Bertie [4 months]. All except his mother were born in Bury St.Edmunds.

His father died in 1902 and his mother married Edward EMMS in 1905.

1911 census...Aged 17, a farm labourer, he was at 7 High Baxter Street, Bury St.Edmunds with his stepfather Edward EMMS [36] labourer born Ingham; his mother; brother Bertie Alfred [10] born Bury St.Edmunds (died 1918); half-brother Edward John EMMS [3 months]; half-sisters Olive Daisy [5] and Ivy Evelyn EMMS [3].

He married Frances May BRAY [7-5-1890] in 1913, later of 5 Vinefields, Eastgate Street, Bury St.Edmunds. They had two sons Thomas Victor BRAY [17-5-1909] and Charles William Proctor BRAY [4-3-1913] and a daughter Edna Grace [4-10-1914]

He enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds.

Lt Col Murphy's "History of the Suffolk Regiment" has:
The 2nd Suffolks, on 11th April 1917 at short notice and no preparation, were ordered to take part in an attack on Guemappe. The objective could not be seen until an intervening ridge had been crossed and at first troops mistook the buildings on Les Fosse farm for the village. As a result of enfilading machine gun fire from the right, everyone edged off a little to the right, advancing with their tin helmets tilted over to the right as if marching in a hail storm. Progress was made, but our men, with totally inadequate artillery support- being unable to cross the long forward slope to cover, swept as it was by a tornado of bullets from front and flank, crept into shell holes as best they could.
They witnessed a gallant but fruitless mounted attack on Monchy-le-Preux by the 3rd Cavalry Division. Two or three more attempts were made to gain more ground but without success and they were forced to consolidate where they lay...movement was almost impossible, preventing communications and worse, the collection of casualties in spite of gallant services of the stretcher bearers.
In the afternoon a fresh battalion attacked but with no more success and the day wore on until darkness intervened and about midnight a relief was carried out and the battalion withdrew to trenches near Tilloy. Thus the successes of the battalion on the opening day of the Scarpe on April 9th were followed 2 days later by a complete failure.

There had been 124 casualties, of which 33 were killed, 24 have no known grave.

photo C.W.G.C.

William Proctor is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Faubourg d'Amiens bay 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details