Private William Richard Brown Way, M.M.

Service Army Service No. 27046
Rank Private
Regiment:Somerset Light Infantry, 7th Battalion
Date of Birth: 28/04/1881
Born Dawlish
Date of Death: 14/02/1918
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription WAY W. (M.M.) PTE SOM L.I.

Service History

William Way enlisted at Torquay and was originally attached to the Devonshire Regiment (Private 21068). After initial training he may have been sent to France and then re-allocated to the Somerset Light Infantry if their numbers had been depleted in action. The 7th Battalion Somerset L.I. was part of the 61st Brigade, 20th (Light) Division.

The War Diary shows that at the beginning of February 1918 near Ypres they relieved the 7th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and spent two days improving front line trenches. At dusk on the 3rd they were relieved by the ‘12th King’s ‘ and returned to support line at Canada Tunnels. On the 4th they ‘proceeded by Decauville (French narrow guage portable railways) from LAMBTON SIDING to FEUZEVILLE, thence by route march to CHIPPEWA CAMP’. Here they reorganized, had kit inspections and drills and were held in reserve until the 7th when they returned to LAMBTON and then to the front line relieving the 11th Rifle Brigade on the Menin Road sector.

The War Diary records that, ‘front line boys came under fairly heavy fire from Trench Mortar batteries’ on the 9th and 10th February. It was quieter on the 11th and at dusk they were relieved by the 7th D.C.L.I. and moved to support line at CANADA TUNNELS (roughly one mile to the south-east of Zillebeke Lake and 2 km south-east of Ypres).

On the 12th February 1918 they were in support but there were working parties carrying to the front line, and there were 2 casualties, of which William Way was one.

He is listed in The London Gazette dated Tuesday 18th December 1917 among those in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of 7th November 1917 “deserving special mention, published in a Supplement to The London Gazette of Friday, 14th December 1917.”

A more detailed coverage is given in 'Douments' below.

Association with Dawlish

William Richard Brown Way was born on 28 April 1881 at Queen Street, Dawlish. He was baptised at St Gregory’s Church, Dawlish on 9th May 1881 and his birth was officially registered by his mother on 30th May.

By 1891 the family had moved to 2 Stacey(?) Cotts, Temperance St, Tormoham, Torquay and their family was recorded there as:

William Way, Head, 35, (1858-1898) a general labourer

Jane Way, wife 37, (1856- )

William Richard Way , 10, (1881-1918) born Dawlish

Alfred Simon Way, son, 7, (1883-1957) “

Albert (Bertie) Way, son, 5, (1886- ) “

Frederick Way, son, 2, (1888-1959) “

In March 1896 William Way enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion at Plymouth.

The 3rd Devons were part of the Special Reserve. Once known as the Militia, the Special Reserve consisted of civilians with military training who undertook to attend regular training events with the army and to rejoin it if mobilised for emergency or war.

Mobilised at the outbreak of war, the 3rd Battalion took up positions along the South West coastline to defend Britain against invasion.

William Way’s enlistment papers show that he was examined by personnel from Staddon Point (Battery) and Agaton Fort, Plymouth on 13th and 14th March 1896. The record also shows that he transferred from the Devons on 3rd August 1896 to the Royal Navy.

There is a Naval Service Record for William Way, born in Dawlish and with the occupation of errand boy. He entered as a Boy Seaman, 2nd Class on 4 August 1896, and gave his birth date as 12 July 1880. On reaching 18 years of age on 12 July 1898 he signed on for 12 years but was invalided to Plymouth Hospital on 5 January 1900 and the service record ends there. No trace has been found of a birth that matches the given date of July 1880, and it is a reasonable assumption that it is William Richard Way with only a vague idea of his birthplace and date.

By 1901 William senior had died and his widow Jane was still living in Tormoham, this time at 4 Spring Steps, Spring Place, Pimlico with William, now 20 , and Frederick, 13 . Jane Way is shown as a general hawker, William as a porter and Frederick as a paper boy/hawker.

For more detail see 'Documents', below.

Devon Roll of Honour Way, W, M.M., Pte, Somerset L.I.
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: brother, Frederick Way
Last Known Address: 7 Madrepore Road, Torquay

Somerset Light Infantry cap badge

Tyne Cot Cemetery, part view

Zillebeke lake, Flanders with Canada Tunnels bottom right

Commonwealth War Graves Commission site

Way and Ford family tree by June Snell

The London Gazette

Frank Morrish, Life story, q.v.,

Edward Doble, life story, q.v.,

Marriage and Birth certificates from General Record Office

Free birth, marriage and death refs

Decauville (French narrow guage portable railways) - wikipedia

Refs via subscription website;

Census records

UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War

UK, Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects

Medal Rolls Index Cards

Somerset Light Infantry, 7th Battalion War Diary

JervisVosperBeable family tree – Ancestry

Mardles Ashburton family tree - Ancestry