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Wednesday 19th January 2022  

William Fantham, GCR Platelayer, Quorn, killed in WW1

Killed 8th May 1916 in France, aged 22

William George Fantham was the eldest of three sons born to William and Jane Fantham of Wendover in Buckinghamshire.

His father supported the family by taking general labouring work, but as William grew up, the Great Central Railway developed and ran through Wendover. In 1914 William was employed by the Great Central as a platelayer at Quorn, which meant that he was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the track and associated component parts. However as soon as war broke out, he went with so many others to Loughborough and joined the Leicestershire Regiment (5th Battalion). At 5 feet 9 inches, William was one of the taller lads, but he was still of slight build, weighing only 10 stone 5 pounds. He had blue eyes and fair hair.

After William was killed in France, Sergeant A. Hurst wrote to his grieving parents:

" No doubt you have been informed before now that your son was killed in action on the night of May the 8th whilst performing one of the most dangerous of duties that falls to our lot, i.e., that of mining fatigue. He was at work down a sap [trench] along with other comrades, when the Germans blew it on them, burying him and another. I can assure you all was done to get them out, but it was impossible to save them. What makes it harder is that they would have been out of it in half an hour. He is a sad loss to us, being very popular with all on account of his cheerful disposition and devotion to duty. No matter how hard or dangerous the work, he was always game to the last. I was sorry to lose him myself, as living with him at 71 Malvern Road, Luton during his first months of training, it makes one feel a little I can tell you. I can assure you, we have lost one of the best. You have my greatest sympathy in your sad bereavement."

Williamís body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

 Submitted on: 2020-11-08
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman
 Artefact ID: 2418

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