Rank: Private 150107
Regiment: 8th Bn., Canadian Infantry
Died: died 14 June 1916 Age 23
Newton Poppleford War Memorial
Other Memorial: Kemmel No 1 French Cemetery [Google]
PDF Download: HAM Wilfred Edwin
Hermon Ham and his wife Emily had five children recorded in the Aylesbeare Census of 1891, which covered Newton Poppleford. One of the children is called William John. In 1893 Hermon and Emily had another son and although their fourth child, born in 1885 had been christened William John, and appeared in the 1891 census, in 1893 they christened this latest child William Edwin.
The only reasonable explanation as to why parents should give the same name to two of their sons is that William John had died in childhood by the time William Edwin was born. This is sometimes referred to as "a replacement child". William Edwin presumably went to school in the village, but by 1911 at age 18, he was working as a “groom/ gardener” for the Cleave family who lived in Mill Cottage, Topsham. Mr Cleave was a farm labourer and Mrs Elizabeth Cleave, who was somewhat younger than Mr Cleave, was a “Monthly Nurse.” This job description is for a resident midwife who would be employed for the month following a birth.
It seems that some time between 1911 and 1914 William decided to emigrate to Canada. When the war started, he volunteered to join the Canadian Army and was a private in the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry. In the army records he appears as Wilfred, (father Hermon and mother Emily and his date of birth is 1893), so there is no doubt that Wilfred is in fact William.
Maybe he called himself Will or Wills and this somehow got converted to Wilfred. He was posted to Europe and served on the Western Front and was was killed on 14 June 1916 in Flanders just prior to the battle of the Somme, aged 21. He is buried at the Kemmel No 1 French Cemetery in Belgium, one of 36 identified graves there, alongside 260 unidentified ones.
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