FREE, Thomas William

No.7466, Private, William FREE
Aged 25

1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Thursday, 18th February 1915

Thomas William Free was born in Castle Camps (Linton Q1-1890 3B:501), baptised in All Saints, Castle Camps on 23rd February 1890, son of William and Ann FREE (née HALLS). He was Thomas within the family, the Military have William

1891 census...Aged 1, Thomas was at Haverhill Road, Castle Camps with his father William FREE [42] farm labourer; his mother Ann [41]; brothers Arthur [16] farm labourer and Frederick [12],all born in Castle Camps; sisters Lydia [9] and Eliza [7] born in Woodham Ferrers, Essex; sister Julia [3] born Castle Camps.

1901 census...Aged 11, Thomas was in the Village, Castle Camps with his parents, sisters Lydia Eliza and Lucy [7] born Castle Camps.

His father died in 1904, buried at All Saints, Castle Camps

1911 census...Aged 22, William was in Egypt, in Mustapha Pasha Barracks, Alexandria in the Suffolk Regiment. It may be his mother Ann FREE [61] in Castle Camps but unlikely the William FREE aged 3 with her is, as recorded, her son, though possible a grandson. She had born 12 children but 4 had died, so the numbers do tally
In 1912 his mother married Henry OSBORNE.

On his Army register of soldiers personal effects his mother Ann Osborne is one legatee, plus sisters Emily, Julie, Lydia, Eliza, Jessie and Lucy and brother Arthur. The pension card puts his mother at 33 Burton End, Camps Road, Haverhill.

William enlisted in Haverhill around December 1906.
The war diary records that actually on 18th February the battalion were relieved in the trenches at 2 am by the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers and that in the previous 48 hours in the trenches they had lost 4 officers and 19 OR killed, 5 officers and 53 OR wounded, and 3 officers and 171 missing. William Free must have been one of the missing.

The form sent to all next of kin, but unfortunately for researchers, was in very many cases ignored.
Even in this case, as it appears this is an uncompleted copy, since no family details are on the CWGC records

William was found here, identified by his uniform, boots and disc and re-interred in Cement House Cemetery, miles away, north of Ypres. This would be due to Spoilbank Cemetery being closed and concentrations still taking place at Cement House. (Still to this day-2016). The CWGC form indicates this was even done during the next war, since the form is dated 4th October 1939. Presumably then he would have been recorded as missing and named on one of the memorials to the missing. Such names are removed when the relevant panel needs further attention

photo: Rodney Gibson

William Free is buried in Cement House Cemetery, Langemark, grave 16:B:49

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

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