William Barratt was born on the 21st February 1890 in Wrexham, Wales 1. The 1891 Wales Census return further narrows down his place of birth as being Gwersyllt, Wrexham, Denbighshire. At the time of the 1891 Census, William was one year old, and was residing in Gwersyllt with his father, John Barratt, a general labourer, and his mother Elizabeth Barratt. Also residing in the household were his siblings, Mary Barratt, Robert J. Barratt, and Sarah J. Barratt2.
By 1901 the family had moved into the Mount Pleasant Inn, Croeshowell, Llay, Wrexham, as William’s father had become the publican. Residing at the address was William, his parents, John and Elizabeth Barratt, and his sisters, Mary and Edith Barratt3.
By 1914 William Barratt was in Canada. The story as to why he emigrated to Canada is unclear. It appears that prior to the outbreak of the Great War he was employed as a clerk. Furthermore, at some point, possibly at the outbreak of the war, he joined the “Fort Garry Horse”1.
The Fort Garry Horse was a regiment organised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The regiment was originally named the 34th Regiment of Cavalry, and the name Fort Garry Horse was added to the Regiments name in 1913. The Regiment was mobilised for the war on August 5th 1914 and moved to Valcartier, Quebec on August 30th 19144. On the 30th August the regiment was informed that the cavalry would not be required for the war effort and they would be transferred to the newly organised 6th Canadian Infantry Battalion5.
William Barratt appears to be amongst those men who transferred from the Fort Garry Horse to the Canadian Infantry after 30th August 1914. He signed his Attestation Papers for the Canadian Over- Seas Expedition on 21st September 1914, in Valcartier. His regiment is recorded as 5th Battalion, and his regimental number as 13079. The Attestation Papers provide a great deal of personal information about William Barratt. He gave his religion as being Church of England. He is described as being 5’8’’ tall, and as having a fair complexion, grey eyes, and auburn hair. His chest girth when fully expanded was 35’’ with a range of expansion of 3½’’. He had distinguishing marks that included a sear above his buttock and a brown mole on his left flank. The medical officer declared him as being fit for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force. William’s next-of-kin is John Barratt, presumably his father, who he states is living at 26, Newtown, Gresford, Wrexham, Wales1.
A list of Officers and Men serving in the first Canadian contingent of the British Expeditionary Force, 1914 shows that William Barratt was serving in D Company, 5th Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade6.
The Second Supplement to the London Gazette published on 10th October 1916 made the following announcement,
“War Office, 11th October 1916,
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under mentioned:-“
13079 Private W. Barratt, Infantry, of the Canadian contingent, is one of those people mentioned in the announcement 7.
William Barratt was further decorated on the 28th July 1917 when he received a Bar to his Military Medal8 & 9. [See note 1]
William Barratt died on the 22nd October 1918 from pneumonia whilst on home leave10 .
The death of William Barratt was covered by The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News dated Saturday 26th October 1918. The article reads,
“Death of Sergt.-Major W.Barratt
It is with regret we record the death of Sergt. Major W. Barratt, second son of Mr & Mrs J. Barratt, Lake Villa, Gresford who succumbed to an attack of pneumonia while on home leave on Monday. Sergt. Major Barratt, who was 28 years of age, belonged to a Canadian Division, being one of the earliest to join the colours in Canada upon the outbreak of the war. About 18 months ago he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field receiving later the bar in addition10”
On Friday 25th October 1918 he was buried in the churchyard at All Saints, Gresford, Wrexham, in a service performed by Rev. R. J. Barker Owen. He was recorded in the burial register as living at Lake Cottages, Gresford11 . His parents John and Elizabeth Barratt were recorded as living at 9, Lake View, Gresford12.
The funeral was also covered in detail by The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News in the edition dated Saturday 2 November 1918. The article reads,
“The interment of the late Sergt. Major W. Barratt, who died from an attack of pneumonia whilst at home on leave, took place at Gresford Church on Friday, in the presence of a large gathering of sympathisers. The cortege was preceded by the R.W.F band, under Bandmaster Clancy, which played the “Death March” in “Saul” on route to the church. The coffin bearing, the Union Jack, and the late soldiers hat and belt, borne by four Royal Welsh Fusiliers was met at the church by the Rev. R.J. Barker Owen who conducted the burial service. Funeral music was played by the organist (Mr E.J Cunnah F.R.C.O). At the conclusion of the service at the grave, a firing party fired three volleys and the Last Post was sounded13”.
His gravestone reads,
“13079 QMR SERJT
W Barratt MM MSM
2ND Canadian Inf. Bde. H.Q. 22ND October 1918 Age 28 Thy will be done”14
William Barratt’s nationality has also been recorded as Canadian by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission12
William Barratt was posthumously decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his valuable service rendered with the armies in France and Flanders, on the 18th January 191915/ 16.
Photograph: Stan Murphy – findagrave.com
- Library & Archives Canada, Attestation Paper for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force for William Barratt regimental number 13079, Reference 150, Accession 1992-93, Box 467 – 47, Library & Archives Canada. [Online] September 21, 1914.
- Public Record Office, Census Returns of England and Wales 1891, Class RG12, Piece 4617, Folio 32, Page 27, Kew, London
- Public Record Office, Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901, Class RG13, Piece: 5222, Folio 108, Page.7, Kew, London
- The Fort Garry Horse Museum & Archive, Unit History – Overview, The Fort Garry Horse, [Online]
- The Fort Garry Horse Museum & Archive, 1914 – War, Mobilization, The Fort Garry Horse, [Online]
- Pay and Record Office, Canadian Contingent, List of the officers and men serving in the First Canadian Contingent of the British Expeditionary Force, 1914, Great Britain Pay and Record Office, His Majesty’s Printers, London, 1915, [Online]
- The London Gazette, The Second Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, the 10th of October, 1916, Issue 29780, Page 9838, The London Gazette, [Online]
- The London Gazette, The London Gazette of Friday 27th July 1917, Issue 30209, Page 7770, The London Gazette, [Online]
- Veteran Affairs Canada, Quartermaster Sergeant William Barratt, Veteran Affairs Canada, [Online]
- The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News, Saturday 26th October 1918, Wrexham Museum & Archives, Wrexham
- Gresford Burials 1887 – 1944, Entry for William Barratt 25 October 1918, number 914, page 115, Gresford Parish Registers volume 29 (microfilm), Reference PD/34/1/563, Wrexham Museum & Archives, Wrexham.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Commonwealth War Graves Debt of Honour entry for W Barratt, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, [Online]
- The Wrexham Advertiser and North Wales News, Saturday 2nd November 1918, Wrexham Museum & Archives, Wrexham
- William Barratt’s Gravestone, Churchyard, All Saints, Gresford, Wales.
- The London Gazette, The Supplement to the London Gazette of 17th January 1919, Issue 1016, Page 1016, The London Gazette, [Online]
- Army Medal Office, Sgt (A/ Q.M.S) 13079 William Barratt M.M. WW1 Medal Index Cards, Western Front Association.
 The entry in the London Gazette is for the name 629076 Pte (L. /C.) J. W. Barratt, Inf. However, information obtained from Veteran Affairs Canada suggests that this entry relates to William Barratt