William John Barber

Service:                Army

Rank:                    Sapper

Service No:           494158

Unit:                     474th Field Survey Coy. Royal Engineers


 William was born in St Philips Bristol in 1895.  He was the 2nd child of William & Eliza Barber.  A 6 year old schoolboy in 1901 he was living with his family at 10 Park Street St. George Bristol; his father was a Bricklayer from Dowhead Somerset.   By the time of the 1911 census we find him living with his parents & 5 siblings at 28 Richmond Road St George, the census records his occupation as a Hotel Barman.

The 474th 1st (South Midland) Field Company TF, joined 27th Division in December 1914 to March 1915 then 3rd Division briefly then 5th Division to April 1915 then 48th Division.  During 1917 48th Division was involved in the following engagements:-

The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, in which the Division occupied Peronne

The Battle of Langemarck** 16th-18th August

The Battle of Polygon Wood** took place during the second phase of the Third battle of Ypres and was fought near Ypres in Belgium 26 September – 3 October 1917, in the area from the Menin Road to Polygon Wood and thence north, to the area beyond St. Julien .Much of the woodland had been destroyed by the huge quantity of shellfire from both sides since 16 July and the area had changed hands several times. General Herbert Plumer continued the series of British general attacks with limited objectives. The British attacks were led by lines of skirmishers, followed by small infantry columns organised in depth, (a formation which had been adopted by the Fifth Army in August) with a vastly increased amount of artillery support, the infantry advancing behind five layers of creeping bombardment on the Second Army front.

 The advance was planned to cover 1,000–1,500 yards (910–1,370 m) and stop on reverse slopes which were easier to defend, enclosing ground which gave observation of German reinforcement routes and counter-attack assembly areas. Preparations were then made swiftly to defeat German counter-attacks, by mopping-up and consolidating the captured ground with defences in depth. The attack inflicted a severe blow on the German Fourth Army, causing many losses, capturing a significant portion of Flandern I, which threatened the German hold on Broodseinde ridge. The better weather continued to benefit the British attackers by drying the ground, raising mist which obscured British infantry attacks made around dawn, then clearing to reveal German Eingreif formations to air and ground observation, well in advance of their arrival on the battlefield. German defensive arrangements were changed hastily after the battle to try to counter British offensive superiority.

The Battle of Broodseinde** 4th October

The Battle of Poelcapelle** 9th October

** the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres

William was killed in action on 28th September 1917.

Sapper William John Barber is buried and is  remembered with honour in the Buffs Road Cemetery Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Grave Reference E. 34.

William was entitled to The 1915 Star,The British War Medal and Victory Medal it is not known if these were claimed by his next of kin.



Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Long Long Trail

1901 & 1911 UK household census