Friday, 7 January 2011

Bio of William Henry Darby 1877 - 1917

William Henry Darby was born on New Year’s Eve, 1877 at 17 Freeman St, Birmingham, the first son of William James Darby and Elizabeth Read.  Censuses in 1881 and 1891 show the child William living with his parents, first at their own house in Aston, then with his grandfather back at Freeman Street.  William joined the Lancers, apparently soon after his fourteenth birthday, and served 12 years with them, including seeing action in the Boer War, during which he was awarded both the Queen’s South Africa Medal and the King’s South Africa Medal.  Following his discharge at the end of his twelve year enlistment, he worked as a timekeeper, and married Jessie Hephzibah Pugh on 17 July 1904 at St Bartholomew’s Church, Birmingham.

According to the US 1910 census, William emigrated to Chicago in 1906, and was followed by Jessie in 1907.  William worked as an electrician, and in 1910 was living at 1116 North Central Ave, Chicago with his wife Jessie, and daughters Jessie (born 1908) and Dorothy (born 1910).  Sometime after the birth of his son Norman in 1912, the family moved to Fort William, Ontario, Canada, and William took up a job as a policeman with the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

On May 31, 1915, William joined up with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.  On his attestation papers, he is described as 5’8” of fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair.  Jessie had already returned home to Birmingham, taking the children with her.

Corporal William Henry Darby, no 551333, of the Canadian Corps Military Police, died in action at Ypres age 39, on 13 November 1917.  He was buried at Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinghe.

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