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William Overend was born in Liverpool on the 1st November 1885 the son of bus conductor James and Maria Overend (nee Eastham). William`s mother was originally from Longton near Preston but the couple married on the 6th January 1884 at the church of St. Michael in the Hamlet, Aigburth in Liverpool. William had three surviving siblings, one older sister, Elizabeth (1884) and two younger brothers, Samuel (1891) and John Edward Eastham (1897).

In 1891 William and his family were living at 55 Wendell Street in the Toxteth district of Liverpool, his father had changed his job and was now a carter/furniture man. Sadly, William`s mother Maria died in 1898, a year after her youngest son was born. By 1901 William, his widowed father who was a furniture porter and his two younger brothers, Samuel and John Edward had moved to 22 Thames Street. William`s Aunt Maggie Overend had also moved in with the family, presumably to help her widowed brother with his young family.

After a brief spell in the Militia, William attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Liverpool, signing his papers on the 22nd December 1902. He agreed to serve a period of 12 years (3 years with the Colours and 9 on Reserve). His declared age was 18 years and 2 months and his occupation was a carter employed by the Lancashire & North West Railway Company. His medical inspection noted that he was 5`5” tall and weighed 115lbs and he had a 31 inch chest. He had fair hair and grey eyes. William confirmed his next of kin as his father James and brothers Samuel and Edward of 22 James Street in Liverpool. His first period with the Colours included service in Gibraltar and South Africa before being transferred to the Reserve after 3 years and 51 days.

By 1911 William had moved out of his father`s home and was boarding in the household of Elizabeth Horsfall, a 39 year old widow at 48 Wilfer Street off Earle Road in Liverpool. Elizabeth appears to have had two previous marriages, one to John Robinson and the second to Frederick John Horsfall and the census shows four of the children from those marriages on the 1911 Census record; Ada Robinson 19, William Robinson 16, Emily Marie Robinson 13 and Frederick John Horsfall aged 5. There was also another young boy whose middle name rather suggests he may have been William and Elizabeth`s son, 2 year old James Overend Horsfall. On the 4th April 1912 William married Elizabeth Horsfall in Liverpool and a son, Samuel, was born in the June quarter of that year.

At the outbreak of war William, still officially on the Army Reserve, was recalled to the Colours and embarked for France with the 1st Battalion LNL as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the 12th August 1914, the Battalion coming under the Command of the 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division. The 1st Battalion was the only LNL Battalion at Mons and they were part of the “Great Retreat” and then subsequently the Battles of the Marne and Aisne. The 1st Battalion then took part in the First Battle of Ypres (19th October – 22nd November 1914) and it was during this period that sadly, William was killed in action, his date of death recorded as 3rd November 1914. 

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

3rd November 1914 – VELDHOEK

We remained all day in the trenches and support trenches. The enemy rather heavily shelled us for about an hour during the day with high explosive and small shrapnel. We had 3 wounded. The enemy continued to progress and dig into our trenches. In the evening we expected an attack and got up our supports ready with the bayonet. Two redoubts were made at each end of our sector and the right was manned by the Wiltshire`s, the left by our fellows. The right was quiet except for two attacks on the Yorkshire`s on our right. They were repulsed. Heavy rifle and artillery fire about 10am inflicted several casualties. Captain Slade called up reinforcements for our right about noon. The situation was reported to Major Carter who then came up to the trenches to see for himself. On his round he was first wounded by a bullet and then struck a second time by a shrapnel bullet and killed.

Earlier in the day Captain & Adj. Allen was wounded by shrapnel which burst in H.Q. I think this is the heaviest shrapnel and artillery fire we have as yet had to put up with since the commencement of the war. The bearing of the N.C.O. `s and men of the Regiment was worthy of all praise.

Total casualties out of 250 men in the trenches was; 15 killed and 35 wounded.

We were relieved at dusk by the Gloucestershire Regiment and bivouacked the night S. of Hooge and south of the Menin Road.

After the war Elizabeth took receipt of William`s 1914 Star & Clasp and his British War and Victory Medals, she would also later receive his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

William was originally buried out on the battlefield but after the war his grave was found and his remains were formally identified by means of his Identity Disc. William was then laid to rest in Hooge Crater Cemetery.

In 1921 Elizabeth was sent William`s Identity Disc which appears to have been the only personal item belonging to her late husband that she received.

Elizabeth had the following words inscribed at the foot of her husband`s headstone;

“THEY WILL BE DONE”

Hooge Crater Cemetery – Photo taken October 2016

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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One Response to 6991 PTE. W. OVEREND. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Alan Overend says:

    Dear Janet,

    Thank you so much for the information about my grandfather.
    There are many new facts that you have researched.I believe that he served with the regimental(horse) transport because of his experience as a carter.My regret is that the only photo of William was lost in a house move-he was wearing his overseas uniform perhaps he was on embarkation leave?

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