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Lichfield, W.R., Sgt., 1915
Photo: Paul Morgan

Sgt. W.R. Lichfield

Photo: Paul Morgan

Sgt. Lichfield with wife and daughter Mona

Photo: Paul Morgan

Blackburn family headstone

In St. Mary's A.D.S. Cemetery, Haisnes is the Commonwealth War Grave of A/8253 Serjeant William Rose Lichfield, serving with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who died 25/09/1915.

In Gateshead (Saltwell) Cemetery there is a family headstone which reads:

loving memory
the beloved husband of
Elizabeth Blackburn
who died January 4th 1918
aged 68 years.
Also of
Sergt. William R. Lichfield
son in law of the above
who was killed in action Sep. 25th 1915
aged 38 years.
Also of the above
Elizabeth Blackburn
who died March 15th 1931
aged 78 years.

Paul Morgan has submitted the following:


Born 28 December 1875 in Gateshead. Named after his Grandfather, William Rose, who had just died in a works accident at Mitchell's Shipyard. In adulthood, William Lichfield dropped the use of his middle name.

When he was 9, his father died, and with his mother struggling to cope, William was placed at the Gordonís Boys Home in Chobham. This establishment was run on military lines, with the trainer being Sergeant Major Austen, a Cameronian.

William Lichfield became a miller at the Co-operative Flour Mills in Dunston. He was involved in establishing the Excelsior Social Club near the staithes, and became its President. Upstairs at the club a rifle range proved to be a valuable facility. Most club members became Durham Light Infantrymen, but he joined the Cameronian (Scottish Rifles) Regiment.

William married Elizabeth Blackburn in 1907; their only child, Mona was born in 1915. By then, he had been one of the thousands who rushed to volunteer at the outbreak of war. He was sent with the 3rd Battalion to train at Nigg in Scotland, before being drafted over to France in the summer of that year. He was a sergeant with the 10th Battalion when he died on the first day of the Battle of Loos (25th September 1915), leading a grenade platoon to bomb the German trenches.

William Lichfield was buried where he fell with his comrades, but later re-interred at the St.Maryís Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery. His name was inscribed on the headstone of his parents-in-law, Elizabeth and Wilson Blackburn, at Saltwell Cemetery. He is remembered on several local memorials. On the imposing triptych at the Excelsior Club, his name and photograph appear centrally amidst his fellow members who were killed in action. This memorial painting is still on display, having been renovated in recent years. There are two more commemorations associated with the Co-op. One plaque is still at its original site of the HQ, Blandford House in Newcastle; the other was at the Drysaltery works in Pelaw (currently privately stored).

His name is listed on the Dunston Hill Cross, and on a wall panel, formerly at the Whickham Cottage Hospital, now at the Community Centre. In Gateshead, the library holds the Roll of Honour relating to the nearby war memorial, as well as a scrapbook with cuttings from newspapers detailing men from the area who were killed or wounded in the war.

William Lichfield is sometimes wrongly listed with a ĎTí inserted in his surname (Litchfield). This has happened on the transcription of the Roll of Honour at Gateshead library, and the CWS plaque at Blandford House. Williamís wife Elizabeth, during her long widowhood (she only died in 1971, aged 90), was always irritated when people mis-spelt Lichfield in this way. That could well have been because of such WW1 recordings. The Drysaltery plaque has a different error, in stating he was in the 20th, rather than the 10th, Cameronians.

William Rose Lichfield is remembered at Dunston on D38.04 at Pelaw on P24.01 at Gateshead on G39.004 at Dunston Hill on D31.01 and at Whickham on W86.09

The CWGC entry for Sergeant Lichfield

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk