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William Westhead was born into a Roman Catholic family in Blackpool during the first quarter of 1879.

William enlisted into the Army at Preston on 5th April 1898 and joined the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards with the number 2048. He had signed up for 3 years service in the Colours followed by 9 years in the Reserve.

Prior to this, 19 year old William had been living in his father’s house and working as a fitter’s labourer. At his enlistment medical assessment, the doctor noted that William was 5ft 9.5in tall, weighed 134lbs with a 34-36.5in chest. He had grey eyes, brown hair, a fresh complexion and a mole under his left shoulder blade. He nominated his father, John, as his legal next of kin and provided his address as 4 Bath Street, South Shore, Blackpool.

In October 1899 he was transferred into the 2nd Battalion, and then into the newly formed 3rd Battalion that December. In April 1900 he received his ‘good conduct pay’.

William remained in the 3rd Battalion for the remainder of his time, except for a six month period in 1902 where he was transferred back to the 1st Battalion  to serve in South Africa fighting the Boers from 16th January – 22nd July 1902.

The Scots Guards Association ‘History’ shows;

The 1st and 2nd Battalions returned home late in 1902, having lost 287 all ranks throughout the war, but without yielding to the Boers a single prisoner. For its services the Regiment was awarded the battle honour “South Africa, 1899-1902”.

For his service in South Africa William was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal and South Africa 1902. His time in South Africa did not meet the requirements to be entitled to the King’s Africa medal.

By the time that Private William Westhead was transferred to the Reserve on 19th August 1902 he had served for 4 years and 4 months.

In April 1905 William married Jane Cook at the Parish church in South Shore. At this time he was living on Frederick Street and she was living on Withnell Road.

On 4th April 1910 he was finally discharged from the Army having completed his full terms of service. By the time of the 1911 census William and Jane were living at 19 Albert Street, South Shore and had two sons; George (aged 6) and Richard (aged 18 months). They had two boarders living with them and William was working for the local council as a corporation labourer.

When the Great War broke out in August 1914 William Westhead, although not obligated to, re-enlisted in the Army and joined the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 21355.

He sailed to Gallipoli to join his Battalion in the field on 25th November 1915, the majority of the men had been there since August. In January 1916 they were evacuated from Gallipoli to Egypt and here onto Mesopotamia where they served until the Armistice.

During the Great War the 6th Battalion earned the Battle Honours; Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli, Egypt 1916, Tigris 1916, Kut-Al-Amara 1917, Baghdad and Mesopotamia 1916-18.

On 23rd November 1919 William Westhead was demobilised to Class Z Reserve and was later awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal in recognition of his contribution to securing our freedom.

Unfortunately his 1914-19 service papers have not survived.

Paul McCormick
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3 Responses to 21355 PTE. W. WESTHEAD. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Ian westhead says:

    my father was 5yrs old in 1919 when he first saw his dad come home from the war, having been born just as war broke out in 1914 he had never seen him before,and what got me to start searching in the first place about pte William westhead was my dads understanding of his scots guards duties on the homeland before going to Africa to fight the Boers, i.e Laying instate of Queen Victoria at osbourne house on the isle of wight.

  2. Doreen Taylor says:

    Hello Ian

    I’m a cousin of yours – one of Richard’s daughters. A sister and myself have been looking up Grandma and Grandad and found a picture(in the local newspaper archives from 1921) of when they moved into their house on Bela Grove.t was lovely to find this article about Grandad and the extra information that you added. Perhaps we could get together on Facebook.


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