Private William Gillard, West Yorkshire Regiment, Yorkshire Regiment, Connaught Rangers. Service number 35444.
William was born in Keighley on 27th July 1899, his parents were Thomas and Mary and they lived at 42, Sun Street in the Central ward of the town. The area was later demolished and this road is now part of Worth Way.
In the 1901 census they were still at Sun Street but the next few years saw several moves (probably to different rented properties), these being 89, Devonshire Street, West Park Lane, Green Street and Turkey Street, then 82, 75 and 55 Leeds Street and then in to 1911 census to 18, Leylands Lane, where they stayed for several years until at least 1915. At some point they moved to 126 Parkwood Street and it's likely that this was William's home address in his army record although this is just a reasonable guess as this is given as his home address in 1918.
At the age of 13 in 1912, he appeared at Keighley Court for his alleged involvement with Horner Thwaites in the theft of a pair of boots (belonging to William's father) which had later been sold to a local boot repair shop on High Street which was owned by James Griffiths of 24, Edensor Road. Horner pleaded not guilty but William Gillard pleaded guilty. Horner's charge was dismissed and Gillard was bound over for six months.
William enlisted in September 1917 and trained with 11th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (service number 62328) then the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment then to A Company of the 2nd Battalion (service number 35444) and he served for 1 year and 217 days. William was taken prisoner (unwounded) at Ridge Wood, Kemmel on 8th May 1918. Then taken to Dulmen Hirson (?) 17/10/18 Transferred from Dulmen to Muster II.
His capture was reported in the Keighley News dated 29th June 1918:
Private W. Gillard, Yorkshire Regiment, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Gillard, 126, Parkwood Street, Keighley, is reported to be a prisoner of war. Before joining the Army in September last he was employed by Messrs. Hall and Stell, Ltd., textile machinery makers, Keighley.
According to the Red Cross prisoner of war records, William was repatriated at Hull on 27th November 1918: 35444 Private Gillard W. 2/Yorks. A Company. 126, Parkwood Street, Keighley Yorkshire. His family had made at least two contacts with the Red Cross in connection with his whereabouts and welfare.
He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service.
He is likely to be the 'Gillard' mentioned in the letter home written by James William Laws. They were very close in age and may have been to school or work together.
He seems to have been discharged in late February or early March 1919, because Army records show that on 31st March 1919 he re-enlisted at Lofthouse Park with the Connaught Rangers with the service number 35231. He was 19 years and eight months old and his trade at the time was 'metal worker.'
The 1921 census finds William serving with the 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers at Victoria Barracks, Rawalpindi. He served with them until 29th June 1922 when he was discharged under paragraph 392 XXV of King's regulations with the description: 'His services being no longer required.'
William married Catherine Haran in Keighley in the second quarter of 1923. He was 24 years old and Catherine was slightly older at 25 years.
Incidentally she was known as Kate Haran and in the 1921 census she was living at 11, Moorehouse Street in Keighley with her family and was employed as an 'eating house servant' at the James Smith restaurant on Market Street in Keighley. We wonder if this is where William met her after he left the army and returned home, presumably in June 1922? Perhaps she served his dinner one day... Although we see in the 1921 census that her younger brother John Haran was also a discharged soldier (but living in Keighley at that time) so perhaps he knew William in the Army during the war.
Fast forward to the 1939 register and Catherine Gillard was living at 178 Westgate in Keighley. She was still married and working as a worsted drawer. Her date of birth is 12th March 1898 so she would have been 41 years old at the time, given that enumerators collected the data for the 1939 Register on 29th September 1939. There is a redacted record for this address under Catherine's name, so they may have had a child who is still alive today. William's name is not present in the 1939 register for this address.
We have found a number of death records which may be for William and Catherine, but at this time we cannot distinguish which are the correct ones, assuming they were living locally when they died.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
UK, British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
UK, World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Red Cross Prisoner of war cards
British Army, Irish Regimental Enlistment Registers 1877-1924
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
1921 Census Of England & Wales Army, Armed Forces Overseas
1939 England and Wales Register
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library