William Ephraim Hunt with wife and children (except Alice)
William Ephraim Hunt with wife and children (except Alice)

William James Ephraim Hunt (1885–1916), Lance Corporal (36316) in the 7th Battalion (Extra Reserve) the Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment), was killed on the first day of the Battle of Ancre on 13 November 1916, aged 31. His death is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, in the Somme region of northern France. It is also commemorated on his family grave, alongside his brother John Hayward Hunt. His name also appears on a war memorial in Ely Cathedral.
William was born in 1885 in Cambridge. He was the fifth of the six children of Thomas Bidwell Hunt and Alice Hunt (née Hayward) and the younger brother of John Hayward Hunt. William was initially employed as an office boy before becoming a plumber. William married Ethel May Meeks in 1906 in Cambridge. They had six children: Leslie William (1906–72); Doris May (1908–93); Lilian Ethel (1910–98): Nellie (1912–2005); Gordon Thomas (1914–95); and Alice Joan (1917–2003). The family lived at 95 Fitzroy Street (now Grafton Centre), Cambridge.

Initially, William worked in a reserved occupation on the railways but he was sent white feathers (a sign of cowardice). Therefore, William chose to enlist and he became Lance Corporal (36316) in the 7th Battalion (Extra Reserve) of the Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment). William’s Battalion was mobilized for war and landed at Le Havre, France on 24 July 1916. It joined the 190th Brigade of the 63rd Division and was sent to the Western Front. William died on the first day of the Battle of Ancre on 13 November 1916. The Battle of Ancre lasted for five days and it had been preceded by seven days of bombardment of the Germans. It was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 before the onset of winter caused a pause in the fighting until the New Year. The Germans suffered heavy casualties and over 7,000 Germans were taken prisoner during this offensive.

Meanwhile, William and Ethel’s children continued to grow up in Cambridge and at the time of their father’s death they were living at 106 Fitzroy Street, Cambridge. William’s widow, Ethel, chose not to remarry and she made ends meet by taking in sewing and washing. She moved to 35 Cromwell Road, Cambridge in 1937 where she lived until her death in 1976. William’s son, Leslie, played cricket with Jack Hobbs and the Hayward family on Parker’s Piece. William’s maternal line, Hayward, may be related to the famous Hayward cricketers. William’s daughter, Nellie, married a Kenneth William Frost, who owned a cobbler’s shop on Mill Road called the “Rocket”.

Hunt grave
Hunt monument

 

 

Lat Lon : 52.203168, 0.13733715 – click here for location

Parish: St Edward

See family grave page for more information

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

War Graves Photographic Project
www.forces-war-records.co.uk
www.ancestry.co.uk
Census returns for England: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754–1921
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–191
Biographical information: private communications from Andrew Stephen

By Emma Easterbrook and Ian Bent

William James Ephraim Hunt