Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte W Bullimore
1st Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Killed in action, 23.4.1917
William Bullimore was born in France and died in France. His birth occurred in Boulogne in 1896 and he was the youngest of four children. William’s parents, Thomas William and Charlotte (nee Hall) were both natives of Norfolk, having been born in Dilham and Reepham, respectively. They married at Windsor in December 1888. Thomas Bullimore was a gardener; William’s brother, Thomas, was also born in France so their father may have been in domestic service there. By 1901 the family had returned to Britain and were living at The Gardens, Canons Park, Little Stanmore, near Harrow. In 1911, William, his parents and one of his sisters were residing at 9, Calvert Cottages, Glencoe Road in Weybridge. Thomas still earned his living as a gardener. Before enlistment William was employed at West Hall in Byfleet the home of the Stoop family.
William enlisted in Guildford. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). His battalion was initially part of the 3rd Brigade in the 1st Division. They landed at Le Havre on 13 August 1914. The 1st Battalion saw action in the first Battle of Ypres (18 October-11 November 1914) in which they were so badly damaged that they had to be formed into one Company on 9 November with just 170 NCOs and men. Much of 1915 was spent in the vicinity of Bethune with more fighting experience in the Battle of Loos in September of that year. On 15 December, by now back to battalion strength, they began service in the 100th Brigade of the 33rd Division which was to last until February 1918. They saw action on the Somme near Bazentin in July 1916 and by 28 February 1917 were in the front line near Albert. Much of March was spent in training. On 22 April William’s battalion received orders to take part on an attack on the Hindenburg Line immediately south of the River Sensee.
Between 14 March and 5 April the Germans on the Somme had retreated to their fortified defences on the Hindenburg Line. The attacking troops moved forward at 4.45 am on 23 April. Their objective was to take and hold 400 yards of the first and second German trenches on the Hindenburg Line. The first line was protected by at least two rows of barbed wire with more thick wire in front of the second trench. The first German line was taken just after 5 am but the wire in front of the second line was still intact so the advancing soldiers took cover in shell holes as the enemy could still shoot from their parapet. As the morning progressed shortage of bombs and ammunition became a problem and at 1.20pm there was heavy bombing from five German positions. Shortly afterwards the Germans attacked. A retreat was ordered from the right flank during which many casualties were sustained. 2/Lt H V Lacey was the only officer of the 1st Battalion to return from the German lines unwounded. William was among over 300 other ranks reported missing. Over 100 of his comrades were wounded and 26 killed. His death was not officially confirmed until September 1917.
Pte William Bullimore has no known grave. He is commemorated with almost 35,000 others on the Arras Memorial (Bay 2) in Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery in the western part of Arras. His parents continued to live in Weybridge for many years after the war at 2, Oxford Villas in New Road.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – 1st Division & 33rd Division, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk