MY FAMILY WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR I
My name is Allan Caswell and this article is a brief summary regarding both my grandfathers who served and died fighting for their country in World War I.
William James Caswell
He originally lived in Bridge Street and is described as a timber haulier, Shrewsbury. He first enlisted in The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry on the 27th February 1900 at the age of 20 years and 5 months and signed up for a period of 7 years. He served with distinction in The Boer War, South Africa, and was awarded the South Africa Medal with the five clasps. He also served in India.
Before the outbreak of WW1 he had been demobilised, but remained on the reserve list, living with his wife Edith Jane Caswell and my father Reginald (who was only a few weeks old) at Chestnut Cottage, Bayston Hill. He was called up for active service and again sent off to fight for ‘King and Country’. He was killed at the Battle of Ypres and is remembered with honour on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
He lived at Primrose Cottage, Lyth Bank, Bayston Hill with his wife Agnes and their two children Kathleen (my mother) and Agnes. He was called up in 1917, enlisted in The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry and was sent to Pembroke Dock for his basic training. It was while he was there that he was confirmed, on the 2 September 1917 at St Alban’s Church, Bush Camp.
After training he was posted to the war front and transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He died on 7 March 1918 from the effects of shell gas. He is buried at the Ruyaulcourt German Military Cemetery extension. The artefacts of the two men are as follows:
William James Caswell
- The service/pay book gives details of him joining up in 1900 and this mentions his service in South Africa and India.
- Obituary This is a cutting from the local newspaper announcing his death in battle.
- Bible This is the Bible given to him in 1903 while he was serving in the KSLI.
- Telegram to his widow confirming that he had been killed in action.
- Confirmation book presented to him at his confirmation in Pembroke Dock in 1917.
- Postcard sent to John Richards by the vicar of the church where he did his basic training in Pembroke Dock.
- New Testament given to John Richards. A copy was given to every soldier at the time.
- The photographs are of William James Caswell and John Richards in uniform.
- The shell case is one that was used during the First World War.