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William Easton

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

40904 Private

17th Battalion, Royal Scots, 106th Brigade, 35th Division

Age: 36

Date of Death: 18.9.18

Buried: Nine Elms British Cemetery XV.C.24

Family history: He was married to Elizabeth and hey had a daughter Sarah. They lived at Kirkwood’s Close, North Street, Bo’ness. Prior to enlisting in 1916, he was employed as a distillery worker by James Calder and Company Ltd Distillers, Bo’ness.

He joined the 17th Battalion Royal Scots (Rosebery’s Bantams).

Recruitment - Bantam Battalions

The War Office attempted to assert some form of control over the recruiting process by implementing new height requirements for those enlisting. The limit had previously been 5ft 3in on 8 August and this was raised to 5ft 6in. The age limit was also raised from nineteen to thirty years to a new upper limit of thirty five years. This change resulted in 10,000 men being rejected on arrival at their units and it is clear this had an effect on recruitment. In October the War Office lowered the height limit to 5ft 4in and further extended the age limit to thirty-eight years, and for former soldiers to forty-five years. In November, they dropped the height again this time to 5ft 3in and in July 1915 to 5ft 2in and extended the age limit to forty years. The first Bantam battalions began to appear in November 1914, one of which was the 17th Battalion, Royal Scots which was also one of the seven ’Pals’ Battalions recruited in Scotland.

The action leading to his death

By the 5th September the 35th Division had relieved the 30th American Division on the front Voormezeele - Zillebeke with 35th Divisional HQ located at Vogeltji Convent near Chateau Lovie north of Poperinghe. The 35th Divisional line was over extended from Moat Grange, south Voormezeele, on the south, to the canal at the crossing of the Ypres - Lille road about 1,000 yards to the north east. It crossed the canal here and continued in an almost straight line in the direction of the road and railway crossing, south-west of Zillebeke Lake, and later it was extended to the Lake.

(Linesman Map showing the positions as at 13 July 1918)

On the 16th September the 17th Royal Scots were in the line, the 106th Brigade now holding the whole divisional line. The Germans were engaged in artillery activity and during one of these bombardments the Battalion CO, Major Alec G Scougal MC was killed. The incident was recounted in a letter by the Battalion Chaplain to William Easton’s wife, William was killed in the same action: ‘You will probably have heard by now of your husband’s death… Our Colonel was wounded and your husband was carrying him in a stretcher along with another soldier, when a shell came over and killed all three…

The three men are buried next to each other at Nine Elms British Cemetery.


The British War Medal, Victory Medal


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