William Arthur Beesley (MM)


William Arthur Beesley (MM)


First World War

Date of Death / Age


Rank, Service Number & Service Details

Bedfordshire Regiment
1st/5th Bn.


1914 /15 Star, British War and Victory medals
Military Medal


Row C, Grave 24.
Israel and Palestine (including Gaza)


>No Inscription on Headstone

UK Memorials

Watford Borough Roll of Honour,
St Michael and All Angels Church Memorial, Watford,
St Mary's Parish Church Memorial, Watford,
Not on the Oxhey memorials

Pre War

Son of Edward and Lydia Hannah Beesley (nee Burow) of Watford.

His parents married 26 April 1891 at Sts Peter and Paul’s, Swanscombe, Kent. Lydia died 18 March 1922 in Watford aged 55, and was buried 22 March in Vicarage Road Cemetery, Watford; Edward died 21 January 1958 in Paddington, London, aged 94, and was buried 24 January in West London Cemetery, Kensal Green, London.

William was born 1894 in Bushey, Herts, and baptised 13 April 1894 at St Matthew’s, Oxhey, Herts. the second of three children, elder brother Alfred and younger sister Gladys.

His father was a railway clerk and the family home at the time of the 1901 census was 52 Grover Road, Oxhey. William with his parents and two siblings.

By 1911 the family had moved to 79 Princes Avenue Watford. William was 17 and employed as an apprentice to a photographer. Living at home with his parents, brother Alfred 18 and sister Gladys 11.

He resided in Watford.

Wartime Service

William enlisted from Watford in September 1914, posted to the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment with the service number 14587.

He arrived in France in April 1915 and was there until wounded and returned to England. After recovering, he was one of 500 men to be shipped to the 5th Battalion, in Egypt joining them in February 1916. William was awarded his Military Medal during the second raid against Umbrella Hill on 27th July 1917 and is mentioned in the London Gazette issue 30340 on 18 October 1917; "201122 Pte W A Beesley (Watford)"

He is also mentioned in the Battalion War Diary:

"2 Aug 1917 Routine work in camp. Working parties from 0700-1100 to 1/5 Suffolk R FLINT REDOUBT & A Batt 270th Bde RFA. At 1645 Military Medals were distributed by G.O.C. 54th Division to Pte BEESLEY, W.A., Pte REEVES, H., Pte PRATT, W. Award of Military Medal notified in the case of Sergt.CLIFFORD, E.G, Cpl CHARGER, Pte.WORROW, D.A.J. all of whom were absent) for gallantry in connexion with 2nd raid on UMBRELLA HILL "

Unfortunately, William did not survive the war and was killed in action on during a bayonet charge led by Captain Yarde, MC and Bar against Turkish positions on Yafa Hill on 22 December 1917. The Battalion War Diary 22 Dec 1917 records:

"Hackney Mound and Yafa Hill 0010 B Coy assaulted YAFA HILL without Artillery Support, the bayonet being the only weapon used. The enemy put up a stiff fight but was soon overcome and the whole garrison bolted. Our men having received orders not to advance beyond a certain point did not pursue. Consolidation of the Post was immediately begun. C Coy acted as carrying party and brought up R.E. material, S.A.A. &c they remained as Working Party withdrawing at dawn 0030 YAFA SUBSECTION till then occupied by 1/10th London Regt was taken over by D & A Coy. By dawn the consolidation of YAFA HILL was sufficiently advanced to render it tenable during day. No shelling was taking place but heavy enemy M.G. fire was experienced. Our casualties were 4 O'Ranks Killed, 1 Officer & 9 O'Ranks wounded."

He was entitled to the Victory, British War and 1914-15 Star medals, his qualifying date being 27 April 1915.

Additional Information

There is an article about William in the St Michael’s Church Parish Magazine dated December 1917.

The value of his effects were £14-3s-11d, Pay Owing and £15, War Gratuity which went to his mother Lydia H Beesley. Son of Edward and Lydia Hannah Beesley, of 79, Princes Avenue, Watford.

Unfortunately, William’s Service Record appears to be one that did not survive the World War Two bombing.

There is an article about William in the St Michael’s Church Parish Magazine dated December 1917.

William is also commemorated on his mother's grave in Vicarage Road Cemetery.

Information provided with kind permission of Bushey First World War Commemoration Project – Please visit www.busheyworldwarone.org.uk.


Stuart Osborne
Dianne Payne - www.busheyworldwarone.org.uk, Jonty Wild,
Sue Carter (Research) and Watford Museum (ROH on line via www.ourwatfordhistory.org.uk)