Name: William Strafford Curtis
DoB: April 14 1888
Regt: Private 2962, 15th Batt. London Regt. (Civil Service Rifles)
DoD: May 27 1915
Academic Career: CGS 1900-03 County Council Minor Scholarship, 1900.
Other: School Master in service of L.C.C.
William Strafford Curtis was born in Gloucestershire from where his parents Thomas (a railway engine driver) and Elizabeth originated. He was the youngest of four children. Elder sister Ellen became a teacher; brother Arthur a printers reader, married and moved to Yorkshire; Lucy was housekeeper for her father and sister after her mother died in 1906. In 1901 the family lived at 5, London Road. At the time of William’s death his father was living at 6, Brookfield Gardens, Carlisle.
Carlisle Grammar School Memorial Register has William’s middle name as Stafford. It is also recorded as Stafford on the 1871 Census (for his mother) However the 1861 and 1851 Census report her as Strafford and the CWGC have William’s death recorded and call him Strafford, as does the Cumberland News.
He attended the Carlisle Grammar School between 1900 and left in 1903. He then became a school teacher.
(Civil Service Rifles), 1914. The British attack on the Aubers Ridge began on May 9 1915. Jill Knight says: “The battalion’s role at Festubert was alternately to hold the line and provide working parties, particularly for repairing the sandbagged breastworks which passed for trenches in the low-lying, swampy ground. They were also called upon to provide bombing parties and make almost nightly patrols in No-Man’s Land. Festubert was afterwards regarded as the CSR’s baptism of fire. Though they were not sent ‘over the top’, it was here that they first suffered significant casualties.” (page 49*)The Battle of Festubert was effectively over by May 25 (and the Aubers Ridge was still in German hands) and on 27th May the battalion was engaged in “cleaning the captured trench, evacuating prisoners and casualties and burying the dead…They were still under constant shell fire. Lieutenant Roberts described the appalling scene: “Everywhere the most awful collection of debris of all sorts, dead men, dying men, equipment, clothing, rifles twisted and bent in the most fantastic shapes. Literally piles of dead men one on top of another in pools of blood. A veritable shambles and a place of utter desolation as the result of the fearful artillery fire it had undergone followed by the bombing and bayonet charges.” The battalion buried an estimated 350 in three days – most of the London territorials.”(page 51*) One of those reported Killed in action at Festubert, on May 27, 1915, was William Curtis. The Cumberland News said he was killed in an attack on German trenches.
15th Batt. London Regt. (Civil Service Rifles), 2962
In the 1911 Census William is living as a boarder with the Saunders family at 2, Castlewood Road, Upper Clapton NE (Hackney) London as a teacher. He was 22 years old and single. An Australian teacher aged 23 was also boarding at the same address. Mrs Saunders was a widow and her two sons and two daughters (one also a teacher) lived there.
a) Carlisle School Memorial Register 1264-1924
b) Census: 1911 RG 14PN1041; 1901 RG13 /4865; 1891 RG 12/4286; 1881 RG 11/5156
c) “ The Civil Service Rifles in the Great War” by Jill Knight*
d) Tim Curtis and eliv ( via ancestry) relatives
e) The Cumberland News 12 June 1915
f) www.ancestry.co.uk and www.findmypast.co.uk