William Oswald Theobald
With Thanks to Peter Bailey for this research.
William was born at Cape Colony, South Africa to Eliza H L Theobald and the Rev L A Theobald in 1897.
His Father was a Methodist missionary whose early death prompted William’s Mother , Eliza, to return to London with her three children. They arrived on the ‘ Tantallon Castle’ in August 1897 and settled in the suburbs of Tooting.
William went to the Wesleyan College at Bath and on completion of his studies there, came to work on a farm in Cornwall (Believed to be within South Petherwin Parish, possibly with Mr. John Rawling at Oldwit Farm)) to gain agricultural experience. His elder brother, Arnold who attended the then ‘Dunheved College,’ was also killed during the war.
On the outbreak of war he volunteered for the London Scottish, presumably to honour his Scottish Mother. (Private 511055 of the 14th (County of London) Battalion (London Scottish)
He was killed in action on the 1st of July 1916.
The forces in the Somme sector of the line were facing formidable defences and strong opposition. It was planned therefore to draw some of the defending German formations away from the Somme by carrying out a diversionary attack further north of Gommecourt. The defences here proved very difficult to break down and the London Scottish faced a daunting task. They attacked enemy trenches strongly held and protected by deep wire obstacles. As a consequence the casualties were high.
A letter from William’s Platoon Sergeant to his sister Agnes read ‘I find that your brother never left our trench. He was seen about five minutes before our charge and I fear he must have been hit by a German shell’.
William’s body was never found but he is he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Thiepval Department de la SommePicardie, FrancePlot: Pier and Face 9 C and 13 C.
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