FEAKES, William Charles

No.6654, Private, William Charles FEAKES
Aged 30

1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Killed in Action on or since Monday 14th September 1914

An Old Contemptible

William Charles FEAKES was born in Hawstead (Thingoe Q2-1884 4A:646) baptised in Hawstead, All Saints on 6th July 1884, son of Walter Sparrow and Mary Ann FEAKES (née HAMMOND).

1891 census...Aged 6, he was at No.3 Whepstead Road, Hawstead with his father Walter FEAKES [34] carpenter born Cockfield; his mother Mary A [30] born born Stanningfield; sisters Anna [11] born Stanningfield, Augusta [9] and Olive [2]both born Hawstead; brother Frederick [? months] born Hawstead.

1901 census...Aged 16, farm servant, he was at Old Hall Lane, Fornham St.Martin with his parents; brothers Frederick, Cecil H [4] and Albert E [2] born Fornham St.Martin; sisters Olive M [12]and Millicent [8] both born Hawstead and Doris E [10 months] born Fornham St.Martin

From 12th June 1905 to 2nd May 1906 he was with the Norfolk Regiment in South Africa.
His father died in 1907 so the parentage of Leslie W Feakes (recorded as son of Mary Ann) is in doubt.

1911 census...Aged 26, single, Army Reservist and farm labourer, he was in Fornham St.Martin with his widowed mother; brothers Cecil Henry (garden boy), Herbert H [5] and Leslie W [1] both born in Fornham St.Martin; sisters Olive Mary and Doris EMMA.

He married Lily BRIDGES [2-5-1891] in Fornham St.Martin on 8th May 1911. Their son William Kimberley was born in Fornham St Martin on 4th August 1911 His younger brother Cecil died with the Suffolk Regiment in France in August 1916. see here

The "living relatives" form completed by Lily in 1919 (living at School Lane, Fordham St Martin) has:-
Father dead, mother at Old Hall Lane, Fornham St.Martin
Brothers Frederick James [29] with R.A.V.C. in Gibraltar, Albert Edward [20] with R.A.V.C. Indian Mobile Veterinary, Palestine and Herbert Hammond at home with mother at Old Hall Lane.
Sisters Annastasia (Now Mrs LEXTON) in Glasgow with sister Doris Ella; Olive Mary, now Mrs DEAN, at 36 Mill Road, Bury St Edmunds, Augusta FEAKES at 29 Crown Street, Bury St.Edmunds and Millicent FEAKES in Hemingford Gret, Hunts.

He enlisted in Bury St. Edmunds for 6 years in the Militia (Suffolk Artillery (No 2911) on 4th August 1903. He gave his age as 19 years 3 months, was 5 feet 4.75 (164.4 cm) inches tall, weighed 114 lbs (51.9 kg), chest 32" to 34" (81.3 to 86.4), Church of England
He was born in Hawstead, lived in Fornham St Martin, worked for W Burrell as cowman. Next of kin, his father Walter.
Whilst undergoing drill training he transferred on 23rd September 1903 to the Norfolk Regiment, (No.6654) enlisting for 3 years in the colours and 9 on Reserve. His disciplinary record was marred twice, at Colchester on 26th December 1904 he overstayed his leave pass (3 days confined to barracks) and in Blomfontein, South Africa on 9th November he was caught gambling in barracks (7 days C.B.).

Mobilised in Norwich on 5th August 1914, he was in France by 14th August and reported missing, presumed dead on 14th September 1914. His last letter home was sent from the Marne on 9th September. His widow was awarded 15 shillings (75p) weekly for herself and her son.

The History of the Norfolk Regiment by F Loraine Petre OBE recounts the events of the 14th September 1914:- On the 13th the Battalion was approaching the Aisne river with orders to cross by raft during the night. The crossing was made near Soissons without fighting, but as they marched into Ste.Margueritte they came under heavy fire of all sorts. Moving eastwards toward Missy the received orders to clear the spur coming down from the north. After 4:30 pm a mixed force of battalions belonging to 13th, 14th and 15th Brigades had been collected together in Missy and sent forward to attack the spur. There were too many men for the passage of a space enclosed each side by 6 feet wire netting. Some did get through.Further into the wood was a horseshoe shaped road where they lost direction, the right closing in on the centre with much confusion and some firing on friends.
25 men of "C" company with Capts Luard and Bowlby got far forward into the wood where both officers were killed and their men taken or killed. "A" and "D" Coys got back to Missy in good order, but the attack had failed and cost around 100 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.

CWGC records show 37 killed, only three with known graves.

William Feakes is commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial

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