Private William Marchant (1925)

15th Combined Clearing Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force

Malvern Commemoration: St Matthias Malvern Link,

Burial/Commemoration: Amara War Cemetery Iraq

Nature of Death: Drowned Mesopotamia 22/9/1916

Age: 25

Next of Kin: Son of George and Rachel Marchant of Eastham Place, Yates Hay Road, Malvern; husband of Dorothy Marchant

Education: Malvern Link C.E. School

Previous Employment: Army reservist, goods porter

Capbadge of the Royal Army Medical Corps

Early years

William Marchant was born in North Malvern in 1890, the son of George Marchant, a nurseryman and his wife Rachel.  William’s father was a prominent member of Holy Trinity Church, North Malvern, singing in the choir.  William was therefore christened here on 16th November 1890, despite the family living outside the parish in Upper Howsell.  He attended Malvern Link C.E. School.

Regular army service

At sometime prior to April 1911, William enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps.  In the  1911 Census, William Marchant was stationed in an officers convalescent hospital in Eastbourne, working as a sick berth attendant.   

On 7th October 1913, William married Dorothy Sarah Turner, a local woman, at St Matthias Church, Malvern Link.  He gave his occupation, not as a soldier, but as as a goods porter at Norton Woodseatts near Sheffield – presumably working for the railways.  It seems likely therefore that he served four years with the Colours and then eight years as an army reservist, liable to be called up in a time of war.

Great War

French medaille militaire won by William Marchant

French medaille militaire won by William Marchant

At the outbreak of war, William was recalled to the Colours.  He landed in France on 8th August 1914 with the 6th General Hospital which set up at Rouen. However by December 1915 he was serving in Mesopotamia where he was awarded the French Medaille Militaire for good work. 

Referring to this award, Rev Archibald Day wrote in the Link Parish Magazine:

“Our friend is of the retiring type, who hates fuss and he has not even told his wife and father what he did specially to win the honour.”

In the ongoing months he was also Mentioned in Despatches.

A tragic accident

In November 1916, the tragic news arrived at Eastham Place, Yates Hay Road: William had been drowned in Mesopotamia.  Dorothy Marchant, living with her in-laws received a letter from that Capt J Scott of William’s Casualty Clearing Station:

“Your husband had evidently gone down to bathe in the river and slipped. The stream is a most treacherous one and the current strong and he must have been carried away to the deep water. We recovered his body and he has been buried in the churchyard. A cross will be placed over his grave.

“I would like you to know how great our sorrow is, and how deeply we sympathise with you. He was the best and most conscientious worker we had, and it was a great joy to us all when his excellent work was recognise by a Mention in Despatches and the French Medaille Militaire.

“His long stay with the hospital has allowed us to know him well and to respect him. He was always fit for any emergency and twenty-four hours ceaseless toil always found him cheerful at the end of it.

“It is difficult to put in words how keenly we feel his death. We will never forget how splendidly he behaved at all times and how excellently he performed his duties. I am speaking on behalf of the personnel of the unit and we ask to be permitted to mourn the loss of one of our best friends.”

After the war, Dorothy Marchant later remarried a man called Hughes and moved to Wylds Lane, Worcester.  William’s brother Edward, who served with the 2nd South Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery from 1912 – 1914, died of sickness in 1923.  He is also commemorated at St Matthias Church.


Today William lies buried in Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.  Sadly the cemetery is in a ruinous state following years of war and instability in the country.  However in Malvern, William is not forgotten – in addition to being remembered at St Matthias, Malvern Link, he is also on the war memorials at Holy Trinity, North Malvern and the Church of the Ascension, Newtown.

Malvern News 4/12/15, 18/11/16
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
London Gazette 24/2/1916

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