William Thomas Prismall was born on 12 December 1886 in New Malden, Surrey, the eldest son and third child of Thomas William (a coachman) and Caroline Prismall. William was baptised on 6 March 1887 at Christ Church, Coombe Road, New Malden. In 1896 the family lived at Vernham Cottage, Presburgh Road, New Malden and later moved to 56, Cleveland Road, New Malden. We learn from an article in the Surrey Comet of 10 November 1917 that William was educated at Christ Church Boys’ School in Elm Road and after leaving school worked for Wood and Hill in New Malden, later acting as a temporary postman at New Malden Post Office.
William was called up at Kingston on 6 November 1916 and joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. On 24 December 1916, William married Beatrice Maggs at Christ Church, New Malden; he was 30, she 34, both living with his parents at 56, Cleveland Road, New Malden. After training, William was posted to the 3/4th Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment which went to France on 16 July 1917, operating in the front line near Arras and moving to near Ypres in August. At some stage William was transferred to the 2nd Battalion but that date is unknown.
On 3 October 1917, the 2nd Battalion moved to an assembly point in preparation for the start of The Battle of Broodseinde, one of the battles of Passchendaele. At noon on 4 October, the battalion moved forward and was exposed to heavy shelling, but was unable to dig trenches below 2 feet owing to the waterlogged nature of the ground. Towards evening, B, C and D Companies moved forward to Jetty Trench to hold the first objective in case of a counter attack. On 5 October, A Company moved to fill the gap between the 7th and 21st Divisions and by 05:00 had dug in at Judge Trench. There was ceaseless heavy rain and shell-fire. In the evening of 6 October, the battalion was relieved and retired to Bellewaerde Lake. During the battle, Major B H Driver MC, the Commanding Officer, was killed and Lieutenant Bennett died later of wounds. A further six officers were wounded, 38 other ranks killed, 118 wounded and 7 posted missing.
William was amongst the casualties of the battle and died of wounds on 6 October 1917. The article in Surrey Comet of 10 November reported that William was brought to the 37th Casualty Clearing Station wounded in the back, probably as a result of shell-fire. The Sister-in-Charge of the station wrote to Beatrice that William died without speaking and William’s officer is reported to have written that he was a good soldier whose loss was keenly felt. The article included a photograph of William in uniform.
William is buried in Plot 1, Row F, Grave 39 of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Godewaersvelde. His headstone bears the additional inscription “Time passes, memories remain”. William’s name is inscribed on the memorial plaque in Christ Church, New Malden, and upon the war memorial outside New Malden Town Hall in Coombe Road.