Private William James Dorsett

William Dorsett © Dorsett Family
William Dorsett © Dorsett Family

WJ Dorsett Tyne Cot Memorial © Ian Jones 2017

Thank you to Karen Wilson from Betchworth Village Archives for allowing us to publish her research.

More Place Cottages
More Place Cottages

William Dorsett was born on March 22nd 1891 at More Place Cottages, probably at number 1. His father, James Dorsett was a groom at that time and the family was still living in More Place Cottages ten years later.

William Dorsett went to Betchworth School and was a choir boy at St. Michael’s, most likely at the same time as Robert Davies. He also attended Sunday School along with his two younger sisters Florence and Alice, known as May. All three won first class prizes for maximum attendance during 1903. They were presented with their prizes at a post-Christmas party arranged by the Whittingtons of Sandhills in January 1904 when a hundred children (probably most of the children of Betchworth at that time) attended and were treated to a ‘magnificent tea’ and gifts from the Christmas tree.

By 1911 William’s parents had moved back to Adderbury in Oxfordshire where his mother Charlotte had been born and baptised in 1857 and where she had married James Dorsett in 1889. James was a gardener by then. However, William had stayed in Betchworth and was lodging with Walter and Ada Stovell in Wonham Wood Cottage.

In 1911 he was a 20 year old gardener working at Sandhills. That same year William took part in the Coronation Day Sports event and ran in the 100 yards open race.

The date of William Dorsett’s enlistment in the army is not known but he enlisted at Canterbury in Kent. He was a Private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry but he started his army career in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.

William was sent to France in August 1917 and after only two months he was killed in action on October 16th in the aftermath of the Battle of Passchendaele. William Dorsett was 26 years old.

WJ Dorsett Tyne Cot Memorial © Ian Jones 2017

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres along with 34,946 other men.

The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

1st December 1917

Mr. and Mrs. J. Dorsett of Adderbury, near Banbury, have been advised that their only son, Pte. W. Dorsett, Oxfordshire Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 16th. Mr. and Mrs. Dorsett are well known in Betchworth and district from their long residence at More Place. Pte. Dorsett who was 26 years of years, had only been in France for two months. Another equally well known young man, Pte. W. Knowles, gave his life in France for King and country on October 18th. Private Knowles was the son of the late Mr. Knowles of The Cottage, Gadbrook Lane. As a lad he was employed by the late Mrs. C. Harman and was for many years under gardener at Morden Grange. Both were educated at the Village School and the former was at one time in St. Michael’s Church Choir. At a special memorial service in St. Michael’s Church on Sunday afternoon the names of Privates Dorsett and Knowles were included with those of Corpl. John Church R. G. A., whose death was recorded a few months ago. The Vicar officiated and gave most sympathetic address. Psalms 39 and 130 were chanted to Purcell in F Minor, and the hymns sung with great feeling were “Through the night of doubt and sorrow.” “There is a land of pure delight” and “O God, our help in ages past” The lesson was Wisdom iii, 1-9 supplemented by portions of Rev. xxi and xxii. Before the service Mr. E. Pointer, the organist, played “Blest are the departed” (Sophr) and “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Handel), and at the conclusion the Dead March in “Saul”. Among the large congregation was Capt. G. du Buisson whose leg was shattered (since amputated) by shrapnel from the same shell that killed Bom. Tucker R. G. A.

The Memorial Service was held at St. Michael’s church on November 25th 1917.

He is also remembered on the Adderbury memorial at St. Mary’s church in Oxfordshire.

Born Betchworth, Surrey
Lived Betchworth, Surrey then Adderbury, Oxfordshire
Son of James and Charlotte Dorsett
Regiment Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Number 235064
Date of Death 16th October 1917
Place of Death Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of Death Killed in action
Age 26
Memorial Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium