Gunner William Gawthorpe, 4695915, 3 Battery, 2 Maritime A.A. Regiment, Royal Artillery.
William Gawthorpe was born in Ossett in late 1919, the son of Guy Gawthorpe and his wife Annie (nee Firth) who were married at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 2nd June 1913. Guy Gawthorpe, born 19th May 1888, was the brother of George (born 1885) and William (born 1895) Gawthorpe, who were both killed in action in WW1. Guy’s son William, named after the uncle he would never meet, was to suffer a similar fate in WWII.
By 1911, the Gawthorpe brothers were living with their parents, Paul and Ada, at 1, New Street, Ossett. George was working as a dyer’s labourer. Guy was a labourer at the Ossett G.N.R. Goods Station and William was a cloth finisher. Paul and Ada Gawthorpe had six children but only five had survived to 1911. Sadly Gertrude Gawthorpe died aged 14 years in 1905. With the deaths of two of their sons in WWI the couple had lost three of their six children by 1917 and another son, Guy was still away from home serving in the Army.
Like his brothers, Guy served as a Private in WW1, firstly with the Prince of Wales Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment with service number 29940, and latterly in the Labour Corps with number 10395. He was awarded the British and Victory Medals in recognition of his service in a theatre of war. His army service record has not survived but since his first child, Wallace was born on 16th August 1914 and his second child, William was born in late 1919 it is likely that Guy was an early volunteer recruit and remained in the army until beyond the Armistice in November 1918.
A third son, Guy junior, was born on the 19th May 1928. In 1939, Guy, a boot & shoe repairer, and Annie were living at 18 Bank Street, Ossett with their sons Wallace, a builder’s labourer and Guy junior who was still at school. A name is redacted from the record and this was almost certainly the couple’s second son, William.
In May 1941, William Gawthorpe married Ethel Holmes in South Hiendley, near Barnsley. There were no children. William’s widow, Ethel subsequently married Edward Pennington in early 1945, again in her home of South Hiendley.
William Gawthorpe was born in 1919, the son of Guy Gawthorpe and his wife Annie (nee Firth) who were married in Ossett in 1913. William Gawthorpe had an older brother Wallace Gawthorpe, born in 1914 and a younger brother, Guy Gawthorpe, born in 1928.
In May 1941, William Gawthorpe married Ethel Holmes in South Hiendley, near Barnsley. There were no children. Gawthorpe's widow, Ethel subsequently married Edward Pennington in early 1945, again in her home of South Hiendley.
On 6th May 1941 the Bren Gun Scheme, Port Gunners and Coastal Shuttle Service were combined to form the Maritime Anti-Aircraft Royal Artillery. This organisation was made up four maritime royal artillery regiments comprising a total of seven Batteries. Maritime gunners sailed on a wide variety of merchant vessels: trawlers, coasters, freighters, ore carriers, tankers, passenger ships and others. They were often away at sea for months at a time, sometimes for over a year. They sailed alone or in convoys of up to 70 ships to destinations such as the Mediterranean, America and Canada, Russia, South Africa, Australia, and the Middle and Far East.
The "Ossett Observer" carried a short obituary for William Gawthorpe:1
"Ossett Soldier Killed - Information on Monday evening that William Gawthorpe (22), son of Mr. Guy Gawthorpe, 18, Bank Street, Ossett, had been accidentally killed whilst on duty with H.M. Forces. He was well-known in this district, and the deepest sympathy is felt with the family in their bereavement. A native of Ossett, he was brought up in New Street and was educated at Holy Trinity School, and worked successively for Messrs. Clegg, plasterer and decorators, Prospect Road; Mr. Lockwood, plasterer, Stannard Well Lane, Horbury, and for a short time, at Gildersome. He joined up with K.O.Y.L.I. in June 1940, and was latterly serving with the Maritime Artillery (Anti-Aircraft). He was on board a ship at Peterhead when his death occurred.
He attended Holy Trinity Church and was a member of the church football team, which played in the Dewsbury and District Sunday School League. He also played for a time with the Spencer and Halstead eleven. He was married on May 31st last year, his wife's home being at South Hiendley, near Barnsley. There are no children. He was a member of the Central W.M.C. where the flag is flying at half mast as a tribute of respect. The funeral took place yesterday at Peterhead."
Gunner William Gawthorpe was accidentally killed at sea on the 25th January 1942, aged 23 years, and is buried at Row E. 26. collective grave 512 at Peterhead Old Churchyard, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. One of Gunner Gawthorpe's colleagues, Gunner S.E. Thomson died in the same incident.
There are 26 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war here. There are a further 6 burials of the 1939-45 war, including 1 unidentified seaman of the Merchant Navy. Those whose grave are not marked by headstones are named on a Screen Wall memorial.2
1. "Ossett Observer", January 31st 1942