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William Keen was born in Blackpool in the October quarter of 1879 and then christened on 24 January, 1880 at Christ Church, Blackpool. His mother was Lucy Margaret Keen who was originally from Oxfordshire.

In 1881 William`s mother had moved to 10 Wellington Terrace in Preston and was employed by Thomas Grime and his family as a servant. William had been sent to live with his mother`s married sister Annie Sophia Parkinson and her husband Thomas at 8 Wyre Street which was just a short distance away from where his mother was working.

Lucy Keen married Anthony Hall at St. Luke`s Church in Preston on the 11th February, 1888 and they moved into number 28 Skeffington Road in Preston. Two years later they had a son and named him Arthur.

When the 1891 Census was recorded Lucy, Anthony and son Arthur were still in Skeffington Road and William had moved in with them but was now using the surname of Hall and not Keen.

William enlisted with the Loyal North Lancs Regiment on 26 August, 1898 at Preston signing his papers as William Hall. He gave his next of kin as his father Anthony Hall of 37 Shuttleworth Road, Preston.

He was allocated the service number 5855 and posted to the 2nd Battalion. At his medical inspection the Medical Officer recorded William as being 5`5” tall and weighing 118lbs. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

William spent the next eight years serving abroad in Malta, Crete and South Africa with the 2nd Battalion. During his time abroad he got himself into bother on several occasions and it often involved alcohol, being improperly dressed or dirty on parade. The punishments received for his misdemeanors were normally fines or being confined to barracks or sometimes both.

He was finally transferred to the Army Reserve in August 1906 and came back home to Preston. The following month on 27 September, 1906 William married Emily Sophie Cooke at St. Thomas`s Church in the town. When the couple married William reverted back to his original surname of Keen. The couple had their first child in 1907 a son they named Albert but sadly he died the following year.

In 1911 William and Emily Keen were living at 35 Shuttleworth Road in Preston and by now they had another son, William who was born in 1910.

On the 26 July, 1914 William re-joined as a Special Reservist and was posted to the 3rd Battalion. At the time the family were living at number 3 Hutton Row, Hutton which was a small village just a couple of miles across the River Ribble from Preston. William was working as a painter at the Electric Works on Strand Road in Preston.

When he signed his papers he again used the surname Hall but by early August the incorrect name had come to light and William was made to sign a formal declaration confirming that his real name was William Keen.

William`s Medal Index Card states that he disembarked in France on 3 September, 1914. The following entry in the 1st Battalion War Diary mentions that a draft of 80 men joined the Battalion on 9 September so possibly William was one of them.

keenw1

Just over a month later on 14th October 1914 William was killed in action. The Battalion War Diary records the following;

13.10.14 TROYON  

Usual daily bombardment. C.O`s inspection of lines.

We took over trenches from 1st K.R. Rifles at 6.30 p.m. only 3 companies were required & C Company were in reserve.

A quiet night

14.10.14 – No attack and practically no bombardment, something must be brewing up on their side.

10 p.m. – Attack along the line, repulsed

15.10.14 

12.30 a.m. – Another attack, repulsed

Our casualties – 1 killed, 4 wounded

The following article and photograph was printed in the Preston Guardian in 1915 after the Military Authorities finally confirmed that William had been killed in action on the 14th October, 1914.

keenw2

William`s body was never recovered and so his name is recorded with honour on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne. He was awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals for his sacrifice to his country.

He is also remembered on the Hutton War Memorial, Hutton near Preston. The Memorial is a new one and was dedicated on the 11th November, 2013. Unfortunately William`s year of death has been inscribed incorrectly as 1917.

keenw3

William`s widow Emily Sophia remarried to Robert Sumner at St. Andrew`s Church, Longton in 1918.

Rank: Private
Service No: 5855
Date of Death: 14/10/1914
Age: 35
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Memorial: LA FERTE-SOUS-JOUARRE MEMORIAL

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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