WILLIAM JOHN STEVENS 1890-1916
William John Stevens was born in Ashcott on 30 September 1890 the son of Edward George Stevens and his wife Eliza Ann Sophia Stevens (nee Applebee). Edward was the village postman.
Edward and Eliza are buried in Ashcott churchyard having died within a month of each other in 1938.
William was admitted to Ashcott School on 22 April 1895 and registered as ’Willie’. He left school on 7 September 1904 ‘for work’.
Edward and Eliza had additional children – Valetta Victoria born in 1893
– Ernest born in 1898
– Herbert born in 1904
– Roland born in 1906
– Ada born in 1908.
Six years later William was looking to a future in Canada and sailed on the SS Lake Champlain from Liverpool to Quebec on 25 May 1910. He was 20 years old and described himself as a ‘labourer’.
Five years later on 10 August 1915 William enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force in Toronto describing himself as a ‘butcher’. He joined the 3rd Battalion Central Ontario Regiment and after a two month stay in England the Battalion arrived in France.
Canadian forces were heavily involved in the Battle of the Somme which lasted from July to November 1916. The casualties in that period were appalling and could not be justified by the insignificant gains achieved. It was the ultimate war of attrition.
William died on the 8 October 1916, six days after his 26th birthday. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras.
The Bridgwater Mercury of 27 June 1917 reported the official confirmation of William’s death, his family having been previously notified in October 1916 that he was ‘missing’. Such delays were a common occurrence.
|STEVENS, WILLIAM JOHN|
|Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)|
Date of Death:
|Son of Edward George and Eliza Ann Stevens, of Pedwell, Ashcott, Bridgwater, Somerset, England.|
|Commonwealth War Dead|
In Memory of
Private WILLIAM JOHN STEVENS
171386, 3rd Bn., Canadian Infantry
(Central Ontario Regiment)
who died aged 26
on 8 October 1916
Son of Edward George and Eliza Ann Stevens,
of Pedwell, Ashcott, Bridgwater, Somerset, England.
Remembered with honour
|Locality:||Pas de Calais|
|Visiting Information:||The grounds around the memorial are open year-round and contain restored and preserved trenches and tunnels.|
|Location Information:||The Vimy Memorial overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about eight kilometres northeast of Arras on the N17 towards Lens. The memorial is signposted from this road to the left, just before you enter the village of Vimy from the south. The memorial itself is someway inside the memorial park, but again it is well signposted.|
|Historical Information:||On the opening day of the Battle of Arras, 9 April 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting side by side for the first time, scored a huge tactical victory in the capture of the 60 metre high Vimy Ridge. After the war, the highest point of the ridge was chosen as the site of the great memorial to all Canadians who served their country in battle during the First World War, and particularly to the 60,000 who gave their lives in France. It also bears the names of 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France – many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge – who have no known grave. The memorial was designed by W.S. Allward. It was unveiled by King Edward VIII on 26 July 1936.|
|No. of Identified Casualties:||11169|
Attachments – Commonwealth War Graves Commission Certificate
– Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery Details
– Canadian Book of Remembrance World War 1 Page 168
References – Ashcott School Admission Logs
– BMD web site and UK Census 1891-1911
– Doug Mears of British Columbia and Canadian Military Archives