William Henry Wightman was born on the 17th May 1889 at Barton-upon-Needwood in Staffordshire.
His father, Charles Wightman, married his first wife, Diana Startin, in 1874 at Burton upon Trent. They had a son and two daughters, Charles John born in 1875 at Barton-under-Needwood, Amelia Ann born in 1877 at Bardon Hill, Leicestershire and Agnes who was born in 1880 and died in 1882 at Burton upon Trent. Possibly due to complications with the birth of Agnes, Diana died in 1880 aged 36.
William’s mother, Sarah Annie Walker, married her first husband, George Teat, on the 22nd December 1874 at Doveridge, Derbyshire. They had a daughter, Annie Gretton, born in 1877 at Uttoxeter. George Teat died in 1879.
Charles Wightman married the widowed Sarah Teat in 1880 at Burton upon Trent. They had four children, Alfred born in 1883 at Burton upon Trent, Frederick Job born in 1885 at Burton upon Trent, William Henry and Elizabeth Evelynn born in 1890 at Alrewas, Staffordshire.
In the 1881 census the family were living at 30, Thornley Street, Horninglow, Burton upon Trent and Charles was employed as a potato salesman. By the 1891 census they were living at Main Street, Alrewas, Lichfield and Charles was now employed as a life insurance agent.
During the 1901 census they had moved again and were now living at 31, Broadway Street, Burton Extra, Burton upon Trent and Charles was still working as an insurance agent.
Then life for William changed dramatically when first his father Charles died in 1904 at Lichfield aged 61 years, and then his mother Sarah died in 1907 at Burton upon Trent aged 57 years. He decided to join the Army.
Early Army Service.
His Army Service Record, Medal Roll Index Card and Medal Rolls survived and contain the following information:
He was Attested on 22nd September 1908 at Derby as Private 13964 (under later re-organisation he became 2604156) in the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards signing up for Short Service of 3 years in the Colours and 9 years in the Reserve.
William stated that he had been born at Barton-under-Needwood, that he was 18 years of ag and his trade was a general labourer. He said that he had not been living at home but in lodgings, that he was not an apprentice, he was unmarried and had never been sentenced to imprisonment or previously served in the Military.
He was medically examined the same day at Derby and the following recorded:
Apparent age: 19 years. Height: 5 feet 11 ¾ inches. Weight: 145lbs. Chest: 47 inches. Expansion: 4 inches. Complexion: Sallow. Eyes: Brown. Hair: Black. Identifying marks: Mole on back scar right buttock.
He said his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his elder brother Frederick Wightman of 9, Stafford Street, Burton upon Trent.
On the 27th September 1908 he joined his Regiment at Caterham. On the 23rd October 1908 he received a 3rd Class Certificate of Education and on the 11th December 1908, he received his 2nd Class Certificate of Education. On the 1st December 1909 he was trained as a stretcher bearer.
During the 1911 census he was posted at Wellington Barracks, St James Park, Westminster with the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards.
On the 22nd September 1911 he was transferred to the Section B Army Reserve on the expiration of his period of Army Service but he obviously preferred life in the Army as on the 6th March 1912 he re-joined the Colours and the following day he extended his service to complete 7 years with the Colours.
On the 20th June 1913 he was appointed as a paid Lance Corporal on transfer to the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, and then on the 15th October 1913 still as a Lance Corporal he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
On the 22nd July 1914 he was transferred again to the Section B Army Reserve with his consent before the expiration of his period of Army Service. Common practice says that he would have been on leave for some time before this date
It is believed that he was Appointed to the Hertford County Constabulary on the 22nd July 1914 and that he started his Probationary training at R Division Headquarters at Hatfield with PC’s William Henry Williams, Herbert Thomas Farrer, Leonard Howard, Frederick Hagger, John Robert Rogers and Henry Owen. All seven of them are listed together on General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 (see below) as being stationed in R Division and having been recalled to their military units. None had been issued with a Warrant or Collar Number indicating that they were all new recruits. The Police Service Records for Hagger, Howard and Rogers all survived and all three show an Appointment date of 22nd July 1914, making a strong case for Wightman, Farrer, Owen and Williams to have joined at the same time.
General Order 118 of 21st July 1915 is a list of 96 officers which included the Chief Constable, 43 Constables who were Army reservists who were recalled and 50 Constables and 2 Sergeants who volunteered for military service. William is shown as PC with no number Wightman W. R Division recalled to 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards on the 4th August 1914.
Army Service During The War.
Having been mobilised in London he was appointed as a paid Lance Corporal. On the 12th August 1914 he landed in France with the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Between the 14th and the 16th September 1914 he received a shrapnel wound in the buttocks. He was in a Clearing Hospital on the 17th and on the 22nd September he was transferred back to England arriving on the 25th. He had to relinquish his pay of appointment on transfer to 4th Reserve Battalion at London.
Lance Corporal 13964 W. Wightman Grenadier Guards was listed as “Wounded” on the Casualty List issued by the War Office on the 25th September 1914. He was admitted to the Military Hospital, Colchester. He was entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe” as authorised under Army Order 204 of 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by his being named in this list.
Having recovered from his wound he remained at “Home” and on the 20th October 1914 he was appointed as a paid Lance Corporal. Then on the 22nd May 1915 he was promoted to Sergeant and on the 13th July 1915, he was appointed Orderly Room Clerk Sergeant.
On the 19th July 1915 he married Theodosia Elizabeth Lees on 19th July 1915 at St Clement Danes Middlesex. They had a son, William Henry Charles, born in 1916 in West Tottenham. Theodosia was made his next of kin giving the address of 1, Catherine Street, Westminster and later 43, Ranelagh Grove, Chelsea.
On the 12th September 1917 he was appointed Orderly Room Sergeant in the 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards. On the 10th January 1918 he was appointed as the unpaid Orderly Room Colour Sergeant until the 13th July 1918 when he was promoted to paid Orderly Room Colour Sergeant. On the 5th August 1918 his War pay was increased by 4d per day.
On the 12th September 1918 he returned to France, embarking at Folkestone and disembarking at Boulogne, before being posted as Orderly Room Colour Sergeant in the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards. Six days later he joined the Guards Headquarters 3rd Echelon.
On the 19th March 1919 he embarked at Rouen for England arriving home the following day.
On the 23rd March 1919 Army Form Z22 “Statement as to Disability” was completed with the following:
Unit: 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards. Regimental No. 2604156. Rank: Colour Sergeant. Name: William Henry Wightman. Address: 43, Ranelagh Road, Chelsea, London. Age: 30. First joined for duty: 5th August 1914 at London. Medical grade when joined: A.
William signed the following declaration: “I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my Military Service.”
The next day he proceeded for disposal to Chelsea and two days later he was taken “Off strength”. On the 22nd April 1919 he was transferred to the Section B Army Reserve on demobilisation and on the 21st September 1920, he was discharged on termination of his first period of engagement.
Life After The Army.
There is no record of William having been re-appointed to the Hertford County Constabulary on his demobilisation from the Army.
His wife Theodosia died in 1935 at Stoke on Trent aged 50 years. He married again to Jane L. Powell in 1939 at Stafford.
In the 1939 Register they are shown as living at 249, Stone Road, Stafford. William is shown as a Detective Sergeant in the London Midland Scottish Railway Police.
William died in 1953 at Crewe, Cheshire.