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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916


CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916


Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916


Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916


Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Corporal 33376 William Eric Sweetman


  • Age: 20
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: Border Regiment
  • Died on Thursday 17th May 1917
  • Commemorated at: Achiet-le-grand Communal Cemetery Extension
    Panel Ref: I.H.7
We know from newspaper notices that William Eric (known as Bill) was born on 26th April 1897.  His mother was Mary Ellen Badley (known as Mary, Ellen, or Nellie) but his father is unknown.  
 
The 1911 census finds him living at 121 Chatham Street, Liverpool. Head of household William Sweetman 55, is a vocalist and concert agent, his wife Mary is 42, daughter Ivy is 15, and son William is 13, at school. They state they have been married 18 years and have had two children.  No marriage record has been found.
 
There are no birth records for William Eric Sweetman in the Liverpool area, or anywhere in the country in the 1890s.  
 
The only surname common to William Eric and Ivy born in the right years is Hess.  However, there are no baptisms or other civil records to be found under these names. William Eric Hess’ birth registration shows his mother’s maiden name as Badley, but no Hess-Badley marriage has been found.  A Mary Ellen Badley married George Turner in 1887, but no Turner-Hess marriage has been found.
 
In 1901 Mrs. E. Hassall, 31, married, a dressmaker, with daughter Ivy, 5, and son William, 3, are visitors at 135 Chatham Street, Mount Pleasant.  Head of household is William Sweetman, 45, vocalist and musical agent, his wife Sarah A., 44, born in Hull, daughters Ada 18, born in Liverpool and Fern 15, born in Hull, as well as a boarder John A. F. smith, 31.

However, there are no birth records for William Eric Hassall either.  The surname could have been misheard by the enumerator. 
 
When he was six years old Bill was baptised, with his older sister Ivy, in St. Bridget's Church, Wavertree, as William Eric Sweetman, on 28th October 1903, the parents William and Ellen at that time living at 12 Langton Road, and his father’s occupation given as coach builder.
 
However, William Sweetman’s wife, Sarah Ann Kent Sweetman, did not die until October 1904.

In 1906 William Sweetman married Mary Ellen Badley in a civil ceremony.
 
Bill enlisted in Liverpool origianally joining the 21st Reserve Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment as Private 31106, he was then transferred to the 22nd (Reserve) Battalion before he was transferred again this time to the 2nd Battalion of the Border Reg with the regimental number 33376.
 
Bill was wounded in action, reported in the Liverpool Echo on 12th May 1917:

“Information has been received that Corporal W. E. Sweetman, 2nd Borderers, son of Mr. W. Sweetman, the well-known vocalist and teacher of singing, has been dangerously wounded.  Corporal Sweetman, who is twenty years of age, joined the “Pals” in August, 1915, and went to the front with a draft from another regiment to which he was transferred.  Previously he was slightly wounded, but soon rejoined.  He is now in hospital in France.  He was in the Lady Chapel first choir and took part in the historic opening of this portion of Liverpool’s Cathedral.”
 
But two weeks later Bill succumbed to his wounds on 17th May 1917 and now rests at Achiet Le Grand Communal Cemetery Extension where his headstone bears the epitaph:

"OH REST IN THE LORD"

His death was reported in the press on 25th May 1917:

“Much sympathy will be felt with Mr. William Sweetman, the well-known vocalist and teacher of singing, at the death from wounds of his son, Corporal William Eric Sweetman, of the Border Regiment.  Corporal Sweetman, previous to the war, held the post of shipping clerk to the Mersey Export and Trading Company, who valued his services very highly.  He was earlier a leader of the choir both in St. Peter’s and the Lady Chapel of the new Cathedral.”
 
His mother Nellie received Bill’s Army effects and a War Gratuity of £9.  The pension card in the name of his mother at 121 Chatham Street, shows that a pension was awarded, amount not specified.
 
His family placed In Memoriam notices on his birthday, 26th April 1918:

“In sad but loving birthday remembrances of my dearly-beloved and only brother Corpl. William Eric Sweetman (our Bill), who died of wounds, in France, May 17, 1917. (Greater love hath no man.). From his living sister Ivy and Leo.”
 
“In loving birthday remembrance of Corpl. William Eric Sweetman, who died in France, May 17, 1917, the beloved and only son of Mr. and Mrs. William Sweetman, 121 Chatham Street.  (He laid his richest gift on the  altar of duty - his young life.). Deeply mourned by his Father, Mother, Sisters, and Gladys; also Cousin Harold.”
 
William Sweetman, his (step)father died in 1923, aged 67.

In 1939 his widowed mother is living in Southport with married daughter Ivy and family, at 2 Sefton Street.  His mother died in 1944, aged 75.
 
Bill has not been identified on any memorial, however there is a Sweetman (no initial) commemorated in St. Philip’s Church, Southport.

Killed On This Day.

(105 Years this day)
Sunday 25th June 1916.
Pte 17742 Henry Wild
30 years old

(104 Years this day)
Monday 25th June 1917.
Cpl 22200 Austin Owens
25 years old

(103 Years this day)
Tuesday 25th June 1918.
Pte 24596 William Andrew Madden
29 years old