Private W Dean

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte W Dean
Devonshire Regiment

The identity of Pte W Dean is a mystery; the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) show that two men of that name and of the Devonshire Regiment were killed in the First World War, but neither of them appears to have any connection to Weybridge. Pte William Dean (15427) of the 8th Battalion enlisted in Compton Dundon in Somerset and was killed on 4 September 1916. Unfortunately, there are no details about his parents or of a wife or of his home location with his CWGC entry. He is buried at Roclincourt Military Cemetery (III D 9) which is between Arras and Lens. The second fatality was Pte William Richard Dean (24106) of the 1st Battalion who was killed on 6 September 1917. He was born at Plymstock in Devon and enlisted in Plymouth. William became the parent of a daughter, Iris, on 5 March 1913. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier & Face I & C).

There is, however, evidence from the 1911 Census that there was a William Dean living and working in Weybridge in that year. He, his mother and his sister Lily ran The Anchor Coffee Tavern in Heath Road. William was born at Dawlish in Devon in about 1879 to Harvey and Eliza (nee Page). His father was a coachman and in 1881 the family was based at Bishopsteignton also in Devon. Ten years later they had moved to Walton-on-Thames, living in Sunbury Lane; William Senior continued to work as a coachman and the family was now complete as in addition to William Junior and his older sister Florence there were two younger sisters, Ellen and Lily. In 1901 the family home was in rooms above the coach house of Brackley Lodge, Oatlands but young William now aged 21 was working as a groom and was a lodger with a family in Paddington.

This William Dean obviously has a connection to Weybridge but establishing a military link is more problematic. He was 32 in 1911 and still single but as the war progressed his age would have become less of an issue so it is possible that he served. William also has a connection to Devon. His father died in 1925 and his Probate records make no mention of his only son; his married daughters Ellen Bates and Lily Norman are referred to. This could indicate that William was already dead – perhaps a casualty of the First World War? Mystery still surrounds Pte W Dean.

Sources:

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations), 1858-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers Effects, 1901-1929, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk

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