William Broom

Broom, William, Private, d. 1st September 1918, age 18 years

As I have not been able to confirm a clear connection with Wootton Bassett, and William was living in the Chippenham area when he enlisted, I am not currently planning to lay a wreath for him.

William was born in Jan-Mar 1900 in Wanborough, Wiltshire. William was the youngest son of fourteen children, four of whom died before 1911. His father James was a cowman and agricultural labourer, his mother was Elizabeth Jane nee Miles. The family moved frequently around North Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire. In 1911 they were living at Cocklebury Road, Upper Cocklebury, near Langley Burrell. William’s father died in 1912, probably in Langley Burrell, when William was about 12.

In 1916 William’s older brother Ernest was still in Langley Burrell, as E. A. Harding, of Rawlings Farm, Chippenham, applied to the Military Tribunal for exemption for William Ernest Broom (26) of Langley Burrell, milker and general labourer. It is possible that William’s mother Elizabeth moved to Greenway Cottage, Tockenham soon after this, perhaps to stay with one of her children, but I have found not yet found any confirmation that William or any of his siblings lived or worked in Tockenham, and there are no Brooms in Tockenham in the 1918 electoral roll or in Wootton Bassett Cemetery.

William enlisted in Devizes and served firstly in the Wiltshire Regiment (33570), and later in the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Royal West Surrey Regiment (G/72553).

At dust on August 29th 1918 the Battalion took over the right sub-sector of the La Clytte defences from the 11th Queens. The 30th was a quiet day in the lines. The War Diary from 31st August to 1st September reads:

Early in the morning of the 31st patrol pushed forward beyond Kemmel and the Battalion followed. New Battalion HQ established in Kleine Kemmel at 4pm. At dawn on September 1st 1918 the Battalion had reached a line beyond the Eastern slopes of Kemmel approximately running from Beaver Hat N.23.d) to Store Fm (n.29 central). Battalion HQ was situated at Little Kemmel (N.20.d). The Enemy still held Regent Street dugouts (N.29.c) and considerable machine gun fire was consequently experienced from our right flank, this prevented any further advance until this strong point had been dealt with.

William was killed in action on September 1st. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

William is remembered on Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 14 to 17 and 162 to 162A. His Concentration Document shows that that a Memorial Cross found at trench map reference 28.N.29.b.6.5. was moved to the Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery. Memorials found without remains were relatively common and initially it was proposed to commemorate such casualties by means of small screen walls in the cemeteries their memorial was moved to. However, this plan was later dismissed in favour of grander more centralised campaign memorials, such as the Menin Gate and the Tyne Cot Memorial.

William is not remembered on Tockenham War Memorial, which adds to the evidence that he did not live there.

26 days after his death, William’s sister Rose named her new baby boy William Frank Mason.

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