Lance Corporal William Jeffrey Eastland

Date of Birth c. 1896
Age at Death 21
Date of Death 16 August 1917
Service Number 230282
Military Service 1/2 Battalion Royal Fusiliers London Regiment
Merton Address 9 Meadow Road, Merton
Local Memorial Baptist Church, Morden

Additional Information

Born in Brixton in 1896, William was the son of William and Maria Eastland. The couple also had five other children, Rosa, Maud, Lillie, Cyril and Dorothy. A further four children sadly died in infancy. William snr was a Jeweller’s assistant and during the 1890s, he and his family were living at 186 Miles Buildings, Lindon Street in the Marylebone area of London.

By 1901 the Eastlands had moved to 82, High Street, Balham. William snr now had his own jewellery business “Old Fancy Jeweller” and was shown to be working at home. This suggests that his family was living in lodgings above the shop.

In the 1911 census the Eastland family was living at 9 Meadow Road, a five room house in Merton. William snr was now a watch and jewellery repairer and many of his children were also of working age. His oldest daughter, Rosa was a shop assistant, dealing in “fancy goods;” William jnr, now aged 15, was an errand boy for a local stationer and young Lillian was a lamp maker for an electric lighting company. The youngest children were still at school and they were also sharing their home with their maternal aunt, Lilian Jeffries, who was working as a laundress.

During the First World War, William Eastland jnr enlisted as a private in the 1/2 Battalion, London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers.) He was later promoted to Lance Corporal. Formed in Westminster in August 1914, this unit was sent to Malta in early September. By January 1915 the men had been transferred to France and joined first the 17th brigade in February 1915, then the 169th brigade a year later. They fought in a number of major offensives on the Western Front including the Battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November, 1916) particularly the fighting at Gommecourt and Leuze Wood. In 1917 they also took part in action linked to the 3rd Battle of Ypres (31 July – 10 November,) including the fighting at Guemappe and Polygon Wood.

William Eastland was killed on 16 August 1917, aged just 21. Like many of his fallen comrades, his body was never found and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres. His name was also added to a memorial at Morden Free Baptist Church.


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