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Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - John Willday

Died 4th January 1919, aged 31, buried in Quorn Churchyard.
Died of wounds received in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1916

Prior to the war

John was one of seven surviving children and the eldest son of John and Maria Willday. His father was a domestic gardener and the family moved to High Street, Quorn in the 1890s. In September 1904, 18 year old John joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a regular soldier. He is recorded as being 5ft 7½ inches with brown hair and blue eyes, weighing a slight 9 stone 4 pounds. On his attestation form he declares that in the past he was once fined five shillings (25p) for stealing plums! He left the Army in October 1912, but as a reservist he rejoined his regiment on 9th August 1914, just 5 days after war was declared.

Wounds and Army discharge
It was whilst serving in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in April 1916, that John sustained severe gunshot wounds to his knee, leg and arm. He did not recover well and was discharged from the Army with a pension in November 1917, when he went back to live with his parents who had now moved to 44 Leicester Road, near Wright’s factory.

Records confirm that John was awarded the ‘Silver War Badge’. This was given to all men who had been discharged from the forces due to illness or injury. When worn, it would indicate that the man had served, and that the reason he wasn’t in uniform was not of his choice. The badge was introduced (retrospectively) in 1916, when many who hadn’t joined up, were being insulted or given white feathers.

Death after the war
Sadly John never returned to good health and he died from tuberculosis in Quorn on 4th January 1919. He was buried four days later in Quorn Churchyard, in an unmarked grave. John Willday is not recorded as a war death by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, because of the combination of being discharged from the forces before he died, and (technically) his death not being directly as a result of active service. The Quorn WW1 Book of Remembrance records his death as being in January 1918, but burial records prove this to be incorrect, and John actually died in January 1919.

His family must have been devastated, as his death followed that of his younger brother Horace the year before, his twenty-one year old sister Cisey Maud in 1912 and his sister Alice’s husband (Charles Ernest Barrett) in 1917. John and Maria Willday continued to live in Quorn and died within two months of each other in 1927.

1) 44 Leicester Road (the middle cottage), where John Willday lived when he was discharged from the Army and later died.
2) Inset is the Silver War Badge.

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 missing information Missing information: Can anyone provide a photograph of John Willday?
Please email us at: team2021@quornmuseum.com
 Submitted on: 2020-01-11
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman
 Artefact ID: 2273
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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