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Wilfred Audsley

Wilfred Audsley appears on the Ossett United Methodist Church (U.M.C.) Roll of Honour as one of eight men of the congregation who lost their lives serving their country in 1914-1918. Little is known of Wilfred but he is believed to be the brother of Percy Audsley who also appears on the U.M.C. Roll of Honour as one of the eight U.M.C. men who lost their lives.

Wilfred Audsley was born in Horbury in Summer 1884, the fourth son and youngest child of eight children born to Ossett born Ezra Audsley and his wife Emma (nee Hant), who married in Wakefield in 1863. A daughter, Sarah Ann Hant, was born to Emma in late 1861 and was living in the Audsley household in 1871. By 1891, two daughters had died and Ezra was a self-employed flock and rag merchant living at Queen Street, Ossett with his wife and six children: two daughters and four sons, including Wilfred. With the exception of George and Percy, who were born in Leeds, all of the other children were born in Horbury or Ossett.

By 1901 Ezra, Emma and three of their sons, had moved to Mount Pleasant in the Stanley district of Wakefield, where Ezra was working as a store dealer. All of their sons, including Wilfred, aged 16, were working on their own account as rag merchants. Wilfred’s father, Ezra, died in December 1903 and was buried at South Ossett Christ Church on the 16th December 1903. Wilfred’s mother, Emma, died in late 1909.

The death of his parents may have been the reason for him moving south and, by 1911, Horbury-born Wilfred Audsley, now aged 26 years of age was lodging at Queen's Road, Knaphill in Woking, Surrey and working as a marine store dealer. In late 1911, a child, Audrey W. Burdett Audsley was born in the Guildford area and in summer 1912 in the Croydon area Wilfred married Beatrice Charlotte Burdett. By early 1913, the first child from their marriage, Hilda, was born. The couple had two more children, Gladys, born late 1914 and Stanley, born in early 1916. Stanley would never see his father.

Wilfred Audsley, of 6 Victoria Cottages, Knaphill, Woking died at Guildford Isolation Hospital on the 13th July 1915. His death certificate records his occupation as a labourer at a marine store and he appears to have adopted a middle name of Ollison. He died of cerebo, spinal fever (Meningococcal meningitis) complicated by pneumonia. The informant was his widow Beatrice who was left with three children under the age of five years. Beatrice was also pregnant with her fourth child and had little choice but to remarry. On the 9th July 1917, Beatrice Audsley, a widow aged 27, married George Edward Englefield at St John’s Parish Church, Waterloo Road, Lambeth, London. The couple do not appear to have had any children.

Wilfred’s brother, Percy, died of heart disease in France on the 12th December 1917 and parts of his army service records have survived. They include references to Percy’s next of kin but whilst it includes reference to one of his brothers, William, serving in Mesopotamia (Iraq) there is no reference to either of his brothers, George or Wilfred. The "Ossett Observer" obituary for Percy also makes reference to Percy’s brother, William, but none to George or Wilfred. It might have been expected that a reference would be made to Wilfred if he too had lost his life in service.

Neither the Commonwealth War Graves Commission nor The Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1919 listings record the death of a soldier named Wilfred Audsley, born in Horbury in 1884. A medal card, medal roll or army service record have not been found for Wilfred, but it is possible that he was in the armed forces, but did not serve overseas in a theatre of war, in which case he would not qualify for any medal award.

Consequently, whilst it is known that Wilfred died in July 1915, when he was working as a labourer in a Woking marine store, it is not known for certain whether he was serving in the armed forces, perhaps in reserve. Nevertheless, the Ossett United Methodist Church Roll of Honour records his name as one of their congregation who lost his life in 1914 -1918. For this reason, and in the absence of any information to the contrary, Wilfred Audsley is also included in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour.

Postscript

Another Wilfred Audsley, also of Horbury, was born twelve months earlier in Summer 1883. He was the son of Edwin Audsley and Elizabeth and, although born in Horbury, he lived most of his life in Ossett. A coal miner by trade, Wilfred married Eliza Lumb at South Ossett Parish Church on the 24th December 1904. The couple had two surviving children by 1911, when they lived at High Street, Gawthorpe and another eight children were born to the couple between 1913 and 1929. This Wilfred did serve in the Army in 1914-1918 and he enlisted on the 5th August 1914, just one day after Great Britain’s declaration of War against Germany.

Aged 31 years and 4 months and 5’ 4” tall, he joined the 1st/4th Battalion of The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.) with service number 2259. Little more of his army service record has survived, except that he was living at Akes Yard, High Street, Gawthorpe and was a coal miner working at Low Laithes Colliery. It is known, however, that he was awarded the British, Victory and 1914/15 Star and that he embarked for France with the 1st/4th Battalion, KOYLI on the 13th April 1915. Sometime after 1915, he was transferred to the West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales Own) Regiment with service number 204314 and was serving with this regiment in March 1919.

Lance-Sergeant Wilfred Audsley was discharged on the 20th March 1919 on the grounds that he was no longer physically fit for service. Even though WW1 was over, this meant that he would not be transferred to Army "Z" Reserve and consequently, would not be called to serve again in the event that Germany did not comply with the terms of the Armistice.

This "other" Wilfred Audsley survived 3 years and 11 months in France and rose to the rank of Lance-Sergeant. Wilfred Audsley of 31, Swithenbank Avenue, Ossett died at Staincliffe County Hospital, Dewsbury and was buried at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 10th December 1947. He was 64 years of age. He is not remembered on any Ossett Memorial or Roll of Honour because he did not die in service. Nonetheless he too was a hero.