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Private John Frank Wills - Dawlish World War One Project

Private John Frank Wills


Service Army Service No. 7380
Rank Private
Regiment:Devonshire Regiment, 1st Battalion
Date of Birth: 1885
Born Dawlish
Date of Death: 24/10/1914
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription WILLS J.F. PTE. DEVON REGT.

Service History

JF Wills enlisted at Exeter with his brother, James. He was a Private, Service No 7380 in the Devonshire Regiment, 1st Battalion at the time of his death, aged 29. He served with the Expeditionary Force in France.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, of Friday 30 October, 1914, reported that,

Private Jack Wills, of the Devon Regiment, has been killed in action. The sad news reached his mother, a widow, who resides at Old Town Street, in a letter from her second son, Jim, who belongs to the same regiment.

He states that he and his brother were fighting last Saturday side by side in a trench. A shell exploded quite close to them, and a second carried away part of the bank of the trench. A third dropped just as they were congratulating each other on their escape, and Jack was killed instantly.

His brother was wounded in the arm and in the back. He states that he is in hospital and making good progress.”

Association with Dawlish

John F Wills was born to Joseph (1847 – 1910) and Rebecca Sarah Wills (nee Lucas)(1854 – 1932). They had married in the October- December quarter of 1878.

Joseph was a Farm Labourer and Sarah a Laundress in 1891 census, with five children, three of school age, living in Ashcombe Road, Dawlish.

By 1901 census they had moved to 25 Old Town Street and had six children.

Joseph was a driver of a Milk Dray, John F, 16, was an agricultural labourer, James L, 12, Emily, 10, Frederick, 8, William G, 6, and Lilian B, 2.

Devon Roll of Honour
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site


Next of Kin: Rebecca Sarah Wills, mother.
Last Known Address:


John Frank Wills 1885-1914

John Frank (Jack) Wills and Joseph Wills
Cap badge Devonshire Regiment
Cap badge -The Devonshire Regiment

Free Birth Marriage & Death refs

Keep Military Museum

History of War, BAttle of La Bassee

Refs via subscription websites:

Census data

UK, Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919

UK, De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1919

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects

Newspaper archives.