Rank: Private
Number: TR4/76475
Unit: Welsh Regiment
Date of Death: 28 June 1918
Age: 18
Cemetery: St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France

Willie Gratton will have conscripted into the army when he became 18 and probably died before he had even had a chance to fire his rifle at the enemy.

His father, also called William, had married Emma Simister at Christ Church, Heaton Norris, in early 1890. Henry and John were born in the middle of the decade and, when the Census was taken in the spring of 1901, William was 1 year old. The family was living at 31 Heald Street, Portwood and William earned his living as a stoker at a nearby hat factory.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission wrongly assigns Willie to the 51st Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. No such unit existed and the reference is to the 51st Training Reserve Battalion to which Willie was originally assigned in the UK. The fact that official records only hold his service number from this time strongly suggests that Willie died very soon after arriving in France and before there was time to properly assign him to a fighting battalion of the Regiment. He died of unknown natural causes, unrelated to combat, whilst in a military hospital at Rouen. He had probably only been overseas for a few days.

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