Researched and written by Anne Wright
Cpl H B Wiltcher
3rd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
Harold Bertram Wiltcher was the third of four sons born to Edward Arthur and Frances Elizabeth (nee Fuller) who were married at St Mary’s Church, Reading on 6 April 1889. By 1901 the family, including all four sons, Edward, George Robert, Charles Geoffrey and Harold, who was born on 28 December 1893 in Reading, lived at 15, Soudan Terrace, Clewer in Berkshire. Edward Wiltcher Snr was the foreman of a telephone company. Harold was educated at three schools in Reading: Twyford School, St Mary’s School and, in 1905, Relands School at which juncture his home was at 15, Grange Avenue. Between 1905 and 1911 the Wiltcher family moved to Weybridge where Harold completed his education at St James’ School (Baker Street) and at the time of the 1911 Census lived at 5, Calvert Cottages; Harold was now employed as an assistant in a Clothiers shop.
He was among the earliest volunteers; he enlisted on 13 August 1914. Despite surviving the four years of the war it has proved difficult to trace Harold’s military service in any detail. He was posted to the 3rd Northumberland Fusiliers, a reserve battalion, based in Newcastle and formed in August 1914. This was a training unit which stayed in the UK and became part of the Newcastle garrison. It supplied drafts to the regular 1st and 2nd battalions but there is no evidence that this is what happened to Harold. He became a Company Quartermaster Sergeant in the Labour Corps (346583) which was formed in January 1917 and numbered almost 400,000 men by November 1918. Many men were transferred to the Corps because injuries or illness had rendered them unfit for front line fighting duties. Harold would have been responsible for company supplies including weaponry and ammunition. He was the company’s accountant. The Labour Corps was not an entirely ‘safe’ posting as they often worked within range of enemy guns and could be used as emergency infantry if required.
Harold died on 1 December 1918 in Beaufort War Hospital, Fishponds in Bristol after a short illness. His effects were due to his wife Alice (nee Cain) whom he had married in 1915. She later remarried to James Juett. Harold was buried in Bristol (Arnes Vale) Cemetery (Screen Wall 4.732). His father had died in 1916 and his mother remained in Weybridge until her death in May 1936. Her last address was Marion Lodge in Dorchester Road.
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England, Select Births & Christenings, 1538-1975, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, www.ancestry.co.uk
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Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War, 1914-1918, St James’ Church
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UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929, www.ancestry.co.uk