William Henry ARCHBUTT
Rank: Major
Date of Death: 8 February 1915
Age: 54
Cemetery: Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt

William is one of the oldest men remembered on this website. He had been born in the London area about 1861 and, in 1896, married his fiancée, Annie Moul, at St Mark's Church, Surbiton, Surrey. Shortly after that, the couple moved north and it was probably then that he took up the position of head brewer for Bell & Co Ltd, Hempshaw Brook Brewery, Hempshaw Lane, Stockport. They lived at 235 Bramhall Lane, Bramhal and are not known to have had children.

He had long pre-War service with the Territorial Force and, no doubt, its predecessor Volunteer Battalions and he was mobilised when War was declared in August 1914. The Territorial Force had been formed for home defence purposes but, when the Battalions were mobilised for War, men were invited to volunteer for overseas service. It is a credit to William that a man of his age volunteered for the rigours of the trenches when he could so easily have opted out.

The Manchester Territorials were sent to Egypt just a few weeks later where they trained and became battle-prepared. However on 24 January, William became ill and was admitted to hospital two days later. He was diagnosed as having acute cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder). The medical notes in his service file, at the National Archives, record "The attack commenced in the early morning two days before admission. Patient was then seized with acute pain in epigastric region; the pain subsequently moved to area of 9th rib, in right side and remained there ever since. He had not vomited or felt sick. The bowels had been freely opened two days before admission."

The next day, it was recorded that William had passed a good night. Over the following days he continued to improve and the consultant surgeon, Colonel Bird (of the Australian Imperial Force) concurred that surgery was not going to be necessary.

However, on the morning of the 8th, "he reported himself "very well" and asked to be allowed to get up before lunch. He spent a quiet and comfortable afternoon and evening. Having dined about 7.30pm, he was proceeding to his bedroom when he fell. He was placed on the bed and complained of inability to breath. His face was pale and clammy, his pulse slow and small. He stated he had no pain in his chest or abdomen. Strychnine and ether were administered and later artificial respiration applied but with no avail. The choking sensation became more marked, the pulse slower and more feeble and finally stopped and he died about 8pm."

William had suffered acute heart failure which appears to have been unconnected with his original complaint. His affairs had been settled by mid 1919. The value of his estate was £1544 (worth nearly £50K at 2005 prices). By then, Annie had moved to Brighton where she was living at 18 Norfolk Road.

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