William Milburn Ackrill was born in Malvern on the 29th October 1877, the son of George Ackrill, a railway porter and his wife Esther. The family had moved from Hartlebury, Worcestershire around 1874, and by 1881 were living at Mill Lane, off the Guarlford Road.
A move to South Wales
Many Malvern men worked in the coal industry in south Wales at the turn of the century, and the requirement to move this raw material across the country, meant there were lots of railway jobs too. William chose to follow his father onto the railways, joining the Great Western at Basselleg as a porter in November 1906, earning 17s a week. He moved stations to Rogerstone the following January and became a shunter in March of the same year. He worked as a brakesman for five years based out of Aberbeeg, Monmouthshire during which time he was recorded on the 1911 Census as lodging with the Lofts family at 12 Craigs View Terrace in the town.
In October 1912 he became a goods guard, responsible for the safety of goods trains, based out of Rogerstone once more, and finally out of Aberbeeg in May 1913. It was from here that he enlisted into the army on 4th October 1914, signing for service with the Lancashire Fusiliers.
William Ackrill landed in France on 16th May 1915 as a reinforcement for the 2nd Battalion.
On 6th July the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers took over trenches captured by the Rifle Brigade that morning on Pilckem Ridge. The men spent the night improving the trenches and repairing the parapets. This work continued until day light on the 7th. Over the next three days the battalion were subjected to a strong counter-attack and subsequent heavy fighting. Losses were so great that according to the War Diary no narrative could be supplied. The Battalion lost 7 officers killed and 10 officers wounded; 79 other ranks killed, 201 wounded and 19 missing.
His death was reported in the Malvern News on the 21st August 1915. A picture of him was published in the Great Western Railway Magazine in the October 1915 edition.
William’s body was not recovered after the war and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Kenneth Ackrill 2005
Malvern News 21/8/15
War Diary of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers WO 95/1507
GWR Employment Records - Ancestry