Submitted by Pam Reed – William was her first cousin once removed.
William Billam was born Robert William Beckwith Earsdon in Jarrow on 17 September 1893. By 1906 his mother and stepfather Elizabeth and George Billam had moved to Hinderwell, 8 miles north of Whitby. In 1911 William was living with them and had taken his stepfather’s surname of Billam. In 1913 William married Ada Simpson and continued to live in the same village. On the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted on 15 August 1914 at Whitby as 12122 Private Billam in the 11th Reserve Cavalry Regiment. However on 1 November 1914 he was discharged as ‘being unlikely to make an efficient soldier’.
Having failed to make the grade in the cavalry, he promptly volunteered for the infantry . At the end of 1914 he enlisted again at Whitby as 18687 Private Billam in the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
William was killed on 1st July 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetary in Mametz along with 2052 other British soldiers. His name is on the Hinderwell War Memorial.
He left a widow and 2 year old daughter.
Extract from the Whitby Gazette Friday 18 August 1916 as follows:-
Killed in action on July 1st. Private William Billam, aged 22 years. He was the first to enlist from Hinderwell on August 15th 1914. “His country called and he answered”
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Deirdre Tyler of Richmond explained the story of Ernest (Ernie) John Tyler to us at one of our drop-in days. Ernie was born on 23 April 1880 in Edmonton, London. He served in the Royal Engineers 1914-1919, mainly with 29 Division and saw active service in the Dardanelles and the Somme. He embarked for his first active service on 2 June 1915. He was one of the few Royal Engineers aboard the “S.S. River Clyde” in 1915, when it was ill-fatedly beached at “V” beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, under the guns of the defenders. Six VC’s were subsequently awarded to the ship’s crew for their courage in maintaining the bridge and rescuing the wounded from the beach. Ernie subsequently spent time in Egypt and then at the Home Depot. He suffered from typhoid or enteric fever and as a result was granted home furlough from 29 February to 19 April 1916. He also caught malaria, being classed B,ii for six months as a result. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 June 1917. Ernie lost two of his brothers in the Great War, one at Gallipoli, and another at sea. After the First World War, Ernie returned to his work in the postal service and was in charge of the first telegraph message motor cycle delivery riders. He had six children who survived into adulthood. Five served their country in the forces; four in the second world war and one post war. Bernard, his eldest son, was killed…
Frank Walker joined the 4th (Territorial) Battalion East Yorks in Sept 1914. He served as a private in France until being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in July 1916 with the 11th Battalion East Yorks (2nd Hull Pals). During the 1st Battle of Ypres in April 1915 the 4th Battalion East Yorks were mentioned in a dispatch from Major General Edward Bulfin (Yorkshire Regiment Green Howards) the Commander of the 28th Division. Also mentioned for ‘good service’ in the dispatch were the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Frank was promoted to temporary Lieutenant in January 1918 and acting Captain on the 14th October 1918. Frank would survive the war. In November 1917 the Battalion were based at Mont St. Eloi near Arras. It was here leading raiding party action that, in January 1918, Frank would be awarded Military Cross. The award appeared in the London Gazette on the 23th April 1918. The citation read: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a daylight raid. He led his party across a long open stretch of ground to the enemy second line. After clearing the enemy trenches and taking prisoners he successfully effected a difficult withdrawal under heavy fire.’
George William Cattermole was born in Tudhoe County Durham in 1889 to George, a colliery worker, and Mary. He had two elder sisters called Sarah and Elizabeth. By 1906 he had left school and became a farm labourer. Aged 17 he travelled to Richmond and enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment, 23rd April 1906. He was initially posted to the 3rd battalion and remains with the Yorkshire Regiment, recorded as living in the barracks at York during the 1911 census. By September 1918 Pte Cattermole is serving with the 2nd Battalion who were deployed near Arras. The war diaries describe the battalions involvement in an attack on the village of Epinoy on 27th September 1918 during which 5 officers and 127 other ranks are recorded as missing, possibly including George. Shortly after the regimental gazettes record George as a prisoner of war. He is released from captivity after the armistice on 11th November 1918 and returned to England.