Every Name A Story Content

Merrilees, W., Pte., 1915

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour Vol 1 page 252.

Newcastle Journal 09/03/1915

On Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial is the name of 3086 Private William Merrilees, serving with the 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers who died 16/02/1915.

William Merrilees was born on the 14th February 1893, at Blyth, he was the third son of James Merrilees, a plasterer, of 42 Coomassie Road, Crofton, Blyth, Northumberland, and his wife Mary, daughter of James Gilroy.

William, who had a younger brother Stuart also killed, was educated at the Wright Street School in Blyth. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers in 1910. Went to France on the 18th January 1915, and was killed in action on the 16th February 1915, after delivering a message. He was unmarried.

Captain O. B. Foster, commanding 'C' Company wrote of him He had volunteered to come back from the trenches in broad daylight under a heavy fire to take back a message to Battn [Battalion] headquarters, that ammunition was urgently required. He accomplished this dangerous duty successfully, being slightly wounded in the arm on the way. While at Battalion headquarters where his wound had been attended to by a doctor, a shell struck the building in which he was, a fragment of it hit him in the head, killing him instantly. Had he lived he would probably been awarded the medal for Distinguished Conduct in the field.

And again, after saying that a 'strong recommendation' had been forwarded to authorities, giving full particulars of his brave act, added He certainly well deserved it. Since I wrote I found that he took a further message by means of which our artillery, which had been firing in a wrong direction, was directed at the proper place; this was the means of saving a number of our men's lives. In any other war but this he certainly have gained the V.C., but, as you can imagine, a terribly high standard of courage is required to win anything now. We had a very hard time with our company, but lately things have been a little easier. As we are now not in the same district. I can give you the following information: Your son was buried by a farmhouse 2 1/2 miles south of Ypres: the farm is south of the Ypres-Comines Canal, and is 1200 yards south east of Chateau Langrof. This may enable it to be traced after the war. A cross was erected over it.

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour

The Merrilees' Family had five sons in the Forces.

William is not remembered on a North East War Memorial.

The CWGC entry for Private Merrilees

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