Lance Corporal William Francis Farmer

Date of Birth c. 1883
Age at Death 33
Date of Death 6/9/1916
Service Number 304164 10736
Military Service 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade London Regiment
Merton Address 30 Cromwell Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Rutlish School, Merton

Additional Information

William Francis Farmer who was born in Peckham in 1882, he was the son of John A Farmer, a mercantile clerk and Hannah. Census Records reveal that the family resided at 6 Graham Road in south Wimbledon in 1891
By 1901, the family had moved to 78 Graham Road. Eighteen year old William was now employed as an embroiderer in the Fancy Goods department of a store.

By 1911, 27 year old William was employed as a ware-houseman in a firm of paint manufacturers.

He enlisted in the 5th City 0f London Rifle Brigade at Hornsey and was killed in action on the 6th September 1916 in France,
On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.


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