THE SEARCH is on for family members of a Whitnash man who fought and died in the First World War,
Whitnash Town Council is keen to hear from family of Private William Franklin Biddle, of the 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, 5th Brigade, 2nd British Infantry Division, who was killed in action in November 1914, aged 30.
The council is hoping to add Private Biddle’s name to the town’s war memorial.
William was born on March 31, 1884 in Whitnash, and was the eldest son of ten children. His father was also William Biddle (born 14th July 1851, Harbury, died October 1914, Leamington aged 63), and his mother was Mrs Rosa Ann (nee: Franklin) Biddle (born 2nd January 1853, Harbury, married 26th February 1872, Harbury, died 1897, Warwick, aged 44) of Earl Street, Leamington
William was married to Mrs Miriam Ethel (nee: Burd) Biddle (born January 1885, Kensington, London, married 3rd March 1908, Fulham, London, died September 1946, Staines, Middlesex, aged 61) of No 26 Rectory Road, Parsons Green, London
They had three children: Ruth Marguerite Rosa Biddle (1908-1992), Samuel Willie Biddle (1909-?), and Robert Harry Biddle (1914-1990).
By 1891, the family were residing at No 41 St Johns Road, Leamington, after having moved from Harbury, Whitnash and Emscote, and where William’s father was employed locally as a gardener, and his sister Florence as a domestic servant.
By 1901, the family had moved to No 93 Queen Street after their mother Rosa died in 1897. William, then aged 18, was employed as a domestic groom. Of his sisters, Florence had left home, Emma, who was 18, was a domestic servant, and Mary, aged 20, was employed as a dressmaker.
Sadly, William was killed in action near Nantes. William’s body was never recovered, or his grave was lost, and he is now commemorated on Panel 38 on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
In the UK Army Registers of Soldier’s Effects, 1901-1929, William is recorded as No 142264, leaving Miriam £3.12s.3d.
On the 27th July 1920 Miriam and their youngest Robert embarked at Liverpool on-board the “Melita” bound for Quebec, Canada, where they arrived on the 21st August to join her brother Bruce Benjamin (1894-1964).
In 1921 Miriam and Robert are recorded as living with Mr John and Mrs Elizabeth Cowan (Scotland) in Lambton, West Ontario, with Miriam employed as a domestic servant. However, Miriam’s stay was short lived and both returned to England on the 2nd May 1922, arriving at Southampton on-board the “Empress of Scotland” with her home address recorded as being No 1058 Harrow Road, Willesden, NW 10.
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