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William Partington was born in Farnworth, Lancashire in October 1887.

William married Fanny (nee Potter) on 30th March 1912. They had a two year old daughter named Nancy; and a nine month old son named John.

On 17th November 1914, William enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Farnworth. He was 27 years old and had been working as a collier, living in his marital home at 148 Manchester Road, Little Hulton.

He had no previous military experience.

At his enlistment medical he was described as being 5ft 5in tall, weighing 123lbs. He had blue eyes, and light brown hair.

William was posted into the 11th (Service) Battalion.

On 15th October 1915, William sailed for Gallipoli having now been posted into the 6th (Service) Battalion within a draft of battlefield reinforcements. They landed on 26th October 1915.

On 17th December 1915, William was evacuated sick to St. Georges hospital in Malta, before then being posted back to the UK Depot on 18th February 1916; here joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion.

On 24th May 1916, William sailed to South Africa from Devonport. He sailed on the ship ‘S.S Trafford Hall’, now being posted into the 2nd Battalion.

S.S Trafford Hall. Source: Clydesite.

S.S Trafford Hall. Source: Clydesite.


The only regimental punishment he received came in September 1916; for not not complying with an order by being caught cooking in the porters lines. For this he was confined to barracks for 7 days.

The 2nd Battalion moved to Egypt on 18th January 1917. Three weeks later, on 9th February 1917 William voluntarily transferred into the Royal Engineers; being posted as a Sapper to the ‘Railway Operating Division’; service number WR/287856.

He transferred on the understanding that he would be re-transferred to his original unit, and revert to his original rate of pay should his services at any point be no longer required with the railway troops.

On 29th April 1917, William was tested at the Kantara military railways workshops and proved himself to be a skilled platelayer.

William remained in Egypt working on the Kantara railway with the R.O.D until arriving in France on 15th January 1919.

It would seem that he was either evacuated to France at this time; or was being posted into France and perhaps became ill on the ship.

Two weeks after arriving, on 29th January 1919, William died at the General Hospital in Marseilles. He died of influenza and pneumonia and was buried in the Mazargues Cemetery in Marseilles.

Fanny received notification of her husbands death, and later received his personal effects;

  • 2 x Discs
  • Cards
  • Photos
  • 1 x Pipe
  • 1 x Belt
  • 1 x Leather purse
  • Letters
  • 1 x Notebook
  • 2 x Wallets
  • 1 x Metal watch and guard
  • 4 x Coins
  • 3 x Bead necklaces (1 broken)

From August 1919, Fanny was awarded a widows pension of 25/5 per week, for herself and two children.

By 1921, Fanny had remarried and moved a few doors away on the same road; she was now named Fanny Gibson of 142, Manchester Rd, Little Hulton, Bolton.

Fanny received and acknowledged William Partingtons 1914/15 Star and memorial plaque. However, his British War Medal and Victory Medal were later returned to sender.

In June 1926, Fanny received a letter to inform her that the body of her late first husband, William Partington, had been exhumed and moved to an another area of the Mazargues Cemetery. His new plot being marked with a cross bearing his particulars.

The 1914/15 Star and memorial plaque of William Partington. The plaque has clearly been cherished, and regularly polished.


Rank: Sapper
Service No: WR/287856
Date of Death: 29/01/1919
Age: 32
Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, Railway Operating Div.

Paul McCormick
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