William DEAN
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Number: 16955
Unit: 50th Field Searchlight Company ROYAL ENGINEERS
Date of Death: 1 December 1918
Age: 32
Cemetery: Premont British Cemetery, Aisne, France

William was the eldest son of Charley Dean (a stonemason) and Miriam Dean (nee Smart). The couple had married in the opening months of 1886 at All Saints Church, Marple. By the time of the 1901 Census, Harry, Jessie and John had been added to the family, which was then living at 6 Lyme Terrace in the village.  William, then 14, was working as a labourer for a calico printing company.

Later he married Harriett who, after the War, was living at 41 Norman Road, Ann's Hill, Gosport, Hampshire. It's known that William undertook wireless operator training at Gosport and it is likely that, whilst there, they met and married. With the development of aerial warfare, the need for searchlights became urgent in the early part of 1915 and William was transferred to one of the new units which was formed at Gosport. The Company served as part of the London home defences until 1916 when it moved to France. The searchlights were mounted on lorries and would be positioned close to the front line to deter low flying enemy bombing raids.

The cemetery where William is buried was used by a number of army field hospitals (Casualty Clearing Stations). His death, some three weeks after the end of the fighting, suggests he died from illness (probably the influenza epidemic of that autumn) or, possibly, an accident.

Further information about William can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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