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Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - William Henry Hackett

Died 18th September 1918, aged 21
Battle of Épehy, the Somme, France

Early years

William’s parents, Henry and Eliza Hackett married in Quorn in 1894. Henry worked in the shoe trade, and in the early years of their marriage they had to move around depending on where Henry could find work. William was born in 1898 in Northampton, but in the early 1900s they returned to Quorn. The 1911 census finds this small family living at number 1 Freehold Street, which was not only their home, but also the shop where Henry carried out his boot making and repairing business (see photograph below).

War service
When war broke out William was one of the first to enlist, despite being only 17 years old. He joined the 6th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and saw much active service, including being wounded twice and being gassed early in April 1918. He eventually recovered enough to return to duty, but was killed on the Somme on 18th September 1918 in the ‘final push’.

The Loughborough Herald on 17th October 1918, reported as follows:
“Local Casualties
In the recent fighting several local men have been killed. Mr and Mrs Hackett have received official intimation that their son, Pte. Wm. Hy. Hackett, of the Leicesters, was killed on 18th of September. He enlisted in Nov. 1914, and was with his battalion in Ireland at the time of the rebellion, and was then drafted to France. He had been wounded on two occasions, and gassed once. He was 21 years of age, and his home was in Freehold Street. Previous to enlisting he was employed by Messrs Wright and Sons.”

There was also an entry in ‘The Roll of Honour’ in the Loughborough Echo on 18th October 1918:
“HACKETT – In ever loving memory of Pte W H Hackett, Leicestershire Regt, killed in action, September 18th, aged 21 years, the only beloved son of Mr and Mrs H Hackett, Freehold Street, Quorn.
The evening star shines on the grave,
Of one we loved but could not save,
‘Tis said, but ‘tis true, and we cannot tell why,
The best are the first that are called to die.
From his loving Mother, Father, Beatie and Aunt Alice”

William’s body was recovered and he was buried in the Unicorn Cemetery, near the village of Vendhuile, Aisne in France.

His parents had lost their only child, but for Eliza, William’s mother, the suffering was not over.

A bit of a scandal
By 1923 Henry, who was by this time was aged 55, had left Eliza and set up home in Leicester with Julia Billson, aged 35, who prior to this lived six doors away at 13 Freehold Street with her parents, her husband John and their four children Elizabeth, Elsie, Samuel and Betty (ages 12, 11, 5 and 3). On 12th April 1923 Henry and Julia, without any children, boarded the ‘Empress of Britain’ and left England forever, bound for New Brunswick in Canada, where they created a new life for themselves. On the Canadian Pacific records for 1923, it shows that Julia had travelled as Henry’s wife calling herself Julia Hackett. As soon as they arrived in Canada they formalised their position and got married on 4th May 1923, however no divorces from their former partners can be traced. Henry and Julia went on to have just one child, a son born in July 1924, who they named Herbert Elgin Hackett. Henry and Julia both died in New Brunswick, Henry in 1952 aged 84, and Julia in 1971 aged 83.

What became of Eliza?
Eliza Hackett remained at 1 Freehold Street for over ten years until she moved to 110 Barrow Road in the mid 1930s. It must have been very hard to come to terms with her difficult situation and on the 1939 WW2 identity card records, she describes herself, understandably, but not accurately, as a widow. Eliza lived in the house on Barrow Road until her death in 1954 aged 88.

1) A newspaper photograph of William Henry Hackett.
2) A modern photograph of the Hackett home at 1 Freehold Street. It is now a house, but easy to imagine as a shop.
3) Henry Hackett and his second ‘wife’ Julia in Canada.

 view larger image
 missing information Missing information: Can anyone provide a better photograph of William Hackett?
Please email us at: team2024@quornmuseum.com
 Submitted on: 2020-01-13
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman with many thanks to Pat Neal and David Hackett
 Artefact ID: 2311
 Artefact URL: www.quornmuseum.com/display.php?id=2311
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own (new browser tab).

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