FLEET, William Talbot

No.320765, Private, William Talbot FLEET
Aged 29

15th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died of his Wounds on Friday, 6th September 1918

William Talbot Fleet was born in Soham (Newmarket Q1-1889 3B:530) son of Harry George and Minnie Florence FLEET (née LIVERMORE).

1891 census...Aged 2, he was at Pratt Street, Soham with his father Harry G FLEET [29] miller, born Fordham; his mother Minnie F [24] born Snailwell; brothers Charles S [3] and Sidney B [1]. The three boys were all born in Soham.

1901 census...Aged 12, he was at Pratt Street, Soham with his parents (father now coal and corn merchant); brothers Charles, Sidney and Harold G.[6]; sister Beatrice S [9]. The 2 new siblings were born in Soham.

1911 census...Aged 22, a house painter, he was at Pratt Street, Soham with his parents; brothers Sidney Bartholomew [coal carter) nad Harold George (milk hawker); sisters Beatrice Sarah and Ivy May Florence [8] born Soham.

In Q4-1912 in Soham he married Eva G. FORDHAM, (b. 8-8-1888) later of Brook Street, Soham.

He enlisted in Newmarket .
The 15th Suffolks were originally the Yeomanry Battalion of the regiment, but they gave up their horses and became the 15th Battalion, fighting in Gallipoli and the Middle East and moving to France in 1918. It is very likely that William was wounded and died during the action on 5th-7th September (probably the 5th) in the attack on trenches at Templeux la Fosse and Gurlu Wood where they incurred about 100 casualties.

CWGC puts the killed at 10 on the 5th and 5 on the 6th September.

Local press report:-
Mrs. W.T.Fleet, Brook Street, Soham, has received the following letter of sympathy from Sec.Lieut. E.H.S. Truscott, in the death of her husband, Pte. W.T. Fleet, Suffolk Yeomanry, which occurred in a hospital in France from wounds received in action, on Sept 6th: "You will, ere this, have heard the sad news of your splendid and unselfish husband's death from wounds received in action whilst nobly doing his duty for King and country. I cannot tell you how sorry I am about it. Not only was your husband a good and brave soldier and one of the best Lewis gunners, but he was one of the real good old sort which England and her armies can ill afford to lose. He had a great influence for good with the rest of the platoon, always cheerful and good natured, even under the most trying circumstances, and in consequence was very popular with his comrades.He always set a very good example by doing the most irksome work uncomplaining and without a single grouse, and thus a most priceless asset to my platoon. I always admired his fine character, and as I got to know him more my admiration developed. I shall mourn his loss as a personal friend and comrade. An eye witness informs me that he was hit by a piece of shell in the back and leg and that he died later in hospital".
The late Pte. Fleet, who was 29 years of age, was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fleet, of Station Road. He enlisted on Nov.17th, 1916, and in the following February went to Egypt, where he remained until last May, when he was drafter to the Western Front. he had been expecting leave for some time past, but unfortunately this had been deferred.

William Fleet is buried in Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France, grave 8:C:16

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