Private William King


Thank you to Karen Wilson from Betchworth Village Archives for allowing us to publish her research and thank you to Jane Anthony for the additional information.

Unfortunately little is known about William King, least of all his connection with Betchworth.

William King was born in about 1883/4 in Wick Cairngorm. It is not possible to know what his father’s occupation or indeed whether he had any siblings.

King enlisted in the Scots Guards, in 1911 he was living in barracks in Belgravia, he was possibly on ceremonial duties at either Buckingham or St James Palace and was very likely living at the Guards barracks. At that point he was still single.

At some point between 1911 and 1914 he married Ann E or Ettie. No trace of the marriage could be found, so it is not known if she originally came from the Reigate Betchworth area. However in 1911 Ivy Cottage, the address given on the CWGC memorial, was occupied by a Sidney Roberts, his wife and two young children. William Kings wife must have moved there after 1911, and is possible that she may have moved after his death in 1914.

As either a serving soldier, or one who had recently left the army, William King must have one of the first solders to embark for war. . He was part of the British Expeditionary Force and was sent to France on August 13th 1914, shortly after war broke out.

Unlike most other casualties his was not described as having been killed in action of died of wounds, istead his details are just described as “died”. He died on 17 November 1914 at Bielefeld, Westphalia, a prisoner of war camp.

The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards landed at Brugge on 7th October 1914, as Private King died about 6 weeks later he must have been taken prisoner at the First battle of Ypres (16 October – 22 November 1914) where the Germans took more than 32,000 men prisoner. As he died fairly soon after being taken prisoner it is entirely possible that he died of his wounds, even though this is not recorded. Another possibility is typhoid or typhus, both of which were fairly common due to lack of hygiene. He is buried at Niederweher Kessel, this cemetery was one of four where prisoners were reburied after the war in order to consolidate the fallen from all the POW camps scattered around Germany.

Born Wick, Caithness
Lived Edinburgh
Husband of Mrs. King, of Ivy Cottage, Reigate Heath, Reigate, Surrey
Regiment 2nd Battalion, Scot’s Guards
Number 5316
Date of Death 17th November 1914
Place of Death Bielefeld, Westphalia Prisoner of War Camp
Cause of Death Died
Cemetery Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel, Germany
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