GRAHAM, William Robert

No.242581, Private, William Robert GRAHAM
Aged 27

1st/5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
formerly 18461, Suffolk Regiment
formerly No. 6643, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Thursday, 19th April 1917

William Robert Graham was born in Mildenhall (Mildenhall Q2-1889 4A:748), son of Annie GRAHAM.

1891 census...Aged 1,he was at Holywell Road, Mildenhall with his widower uncle Charles GRAHAM [60] marine store dealer born Mildenhall; Charles' sister in law, widow Mary Ann GRAHAM [63] born Mildenhall; Charles' daughter, widow Emma MORTLOCK [33] born Mildenhall and her daughters Lilian [10], Ellen [9], Florence [7] and Elizabeth [4], all four born in London; Charles' granddaughter Annie GRAHAM [15] born Manchester and his nephew Charles RANDS [11] born London.

In Q3-1893 in Mildenhall his mother married William James HOOD.

1901 census...Aged 11 he has not been identified in this census.
His mother and stepfather William HOOD [33] bricklayer's labourer born Mildenhall, were at Cemetery Road, Mildenhall with his half sister Edith HOOD[4] and half brother William HOOD [1] both born Mildenhall.

His stepfather Willian HOOD died in the 1st half of 1909 and his mother married John Albert FOREMAN in Mildenhall Q4-1909.

1911 census...Aged 21, bricklayer's labourer, he was at Fuller's Yard, Kingsway, Mildenhall with his stepfather John FOREMAN [47] farm labourer; his mother Annie [36] born Mildenhall ? and William HOOD [10] born Mildenhall, recorded as stepson.

The difficulty in all of this is the various relationships. This record will happily be amended if relatives come forward with more information.

The pension card has his step father John Albert Foreman at West Street, Mildenhall

He enlisted in Newmarket. His Army service records have not been found
The 5th Suffolks war diary has not been found online. The 19th April 1917 they were in Brigade reserves and were called into action at around 1 pm. The whole eastern attack on Gaza was grinding to a halt against superior numbers and guns (artillery pieces were about 1 per 100 yards as against the norm on France of 1 per 35 feet). before they really got going the order came to stand fast and dig in where they were. They had lost three tanks to the enemy. Although ordered not to abandon any ground, the position of the 54th (East Anglian) Division, out in the open and swept by fire, could not be maintained. The division was forced to withdraw to a position near Sheikh Abbas. The Turkish defender were believed to have suffered 2,000 casualties (from 80 to 400 dead) as against the Allied casualties of around 6,400 (could be as high as 15,000). The 5th Suffolk, coming in so late were spared the worse and had 6 killed, including Harry Blythe from Burwell.

The Bury Free Press of 19th May 1917 reported-

Prvt.William Robert Graham, who, we regret to state,was killed in action, whilst serving with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, on April 19th. He enlisted in the 7th Suffolk Regiment in February.1915, and went the following August to France, where he was wounded three times.He was home on sick leave in December last year, and on draft leave in January, when he was transferred to the 54th Suffolks, and went to Egypt to join them them there. Only a few days before his death he wrote a very cheery letter home, saying was having a good time out there with the Mildenhall boys and there was not much fighting going on just then.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

William Graham is buried in Gaza War Cemetery, grave 8:E:13

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