William was born in Mattishall, Norfolk on 25 December 1896 His parents were John Jesse and Mary Ann (nee Dack) Scott. His father was a groom, when he was born, and later a coachman.
His mother Mary Ann died the same month as he was born presumably as a result of childbirth. William Christmas was baptised privately probably as he was not expected to survive. He was later welcomed into the church at St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate on 3 July 1904.
William had an older brother Herbert John Scott born 23 March 1893.
John Scott married Georgina Meek in Mattishall in the summer of 1896. It is assumed that he remarried so soon as he needed help with his sons, one of whom as only a few months old. They moved to live in Saxlingham Nethergate.
Unfortunately for the family Georgina also died a year later and was buried on 24 December 1897 in Saxlingham Nethergate Churchyard.
On 17 June 1899 John married Caroline Barker, a widow, in St. Mary’s Church Saxlingham Nethergate. She had five children and her husband had been a publican in Saxlingham Nethergate. Her husband had died in December 1897, a few days before Georgina Scott.
In 1901 the family lived on Pitts Hill, Saxlingham. John was working as a domestic coachman. One of Caroline’s children, Caroline, born in 1890, was living with them as well as Herbert and William. In 1911 Hebert and William were working as garden labourers and Caroline was a servant at the Old Hall Saxlingham Nethergate.
When he enlisted on 8 December 1915 William was still living at home with his father and step-mother. They lived at the School House, Church Green, Saxlingham. William was working as a market gardener labourer.
He was posted for duty at Felixstowe on 26January 1916. He was in the 2nd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, Service number 23307. When he joined he was 5 feet 4 inches tall with a 37inch chest and weighed 127 pounds.
He left England on 21 May 1916 arriving in Basra in Mesopotamia on 13 June 1916.
In July 1916 he was admitted to the 33rd General Hospital in Makina in Basra. This hospital had been set up the previous month. It was situated in an old liquorice factory and was described as being ‘ shut in and airless’ It was not a pleasant place to be as there was a mule depot near by which resulted in a lot of flies. On one occasion when it was inspected there was consternation as plague infected rats had been found in the wards with fleas.
William was transferred to Bombay from the hospital on 17 July with acute rheumatism. He remained in India for some time.
Between 1 December and 29 December 1916 he was in hospital in Belgaum as he had a dental abscess. This was drained and he had teeth extracted.
He was sent from India to Mesopotamia on 19 January 1917 to join his unit.
He was admitted to 16th Casualty Clearing Station at Shaik Saad on 22 February 1917 with tonsillitis. He was sent to a rest camp on 3 March 1917.
He seems to have suffered from various illnesses during his military service.
On 13 April 1917 he was in 23rd British Stationary Hospital in Baghdad with diarrhoea. He was discharged on 25 April 1917. The whole of the unit suffered from this over a period of many months and the strength of the battalion was greatly reduced because of it.
Having recovered from the diarrhoea he was again admitted to hospital in Baghdad with tonsillitis on 25 May 1917.
In the July he was admitted to 3rd British General Hospital in Basra with malaria.
This hospital was in the palace of the Sheikh of Mohammerah in Basra. It had rooms off the main hall which were used as wards. It also had large adjoining hut extensions which had been solidly built to resist the heat. The roofs were thick and sun proof and the wards had electric lights and fans. It was one of the better hospitals.
He was invalided to India from here on 14 July 1917 where he stayed for several months.
Several of the soldiers in Mesopotamia suffered from diphtheria and a programme of vaccination was carried out. On 13 September 1918 William whilst still in India was admitted to the Stationary Hospital in Bangalore with suspected diphtheria. He had follicular tonsillitis, a sore throat, headache, fever and was generally indisposed. A swab was taken and it was found to be negative for the disease. He was therefore transferred to throat ward in Bangalore where he stayed until 2 October 1918. He was given potassium permanganate and potassium chloride gargles.
He left India on 26 November 1918 arriving in Salonika (now Thessaloniki) in northern Greece on 18 December 1918.
He had an attack of malaria in February 1919. During the time of his army service he had four attacks of malaria.
He contracted dysentery and was admitted to 43rd General Hospital in Salonika on 21 April 1919. He embarked to England on 8 May 1919 and was admitted to the Reading War Hospital on 19 May 1919. He remained there until 4 July 1919. When he was admitted it was stated that he was free from infection. He was there to convalesce .
When he was examined in June 1919 it was recorded that he had lost 6 pounds in weight over a period of 3 weeks and weighed 9 stones 2 pounds. He had recovered well and could now walk five miles. He was however slightly debilitated and it was thought he would be for 3 months. Whether this was a result of the dysentery or the malaria it is not stated. He was a given a pension for 26 weeks.
After the war he returned to live in Saxlingham Nethergate and worked as a gardener.
In December 1924 he married Lilian Maude Funnell in St. Mary’s Church, Saxlingham Nethergate. She was born in 1896 and was the daughter of George Funnell, the local baker. Her brother, Alfred Funnell was killed in the war and is remembered on this website. Their daughter Elizabeth J Scott was born at the end of 1925. Lilian died on 6 December 1925 in childbirth and is buried in Saxlingham Nethergate Churchyard.
William remarried in 1928. His wife was Hazel Audrey Agnes Buck, born 26 July 1899 and from Blofield. Their son, Clarence R Scott was born in 1931.
In 1939 William, his wife and the two children were living in the Street, Saxlingham Nethergate and he was working as a gardener.
Despite having suffered from multiple diseases including malaria, in his early life William lived to a ripe old age and died aged 95 years old in December 1989.
His wife died in January 1990 in Towcester, Northamptonshire .
England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005
UK Census Collection
British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920
1939 Register- www.findmypast.co.uk
Norfolk Electoral Rolls-Southern Division Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe, (Absent Voters Lists 1918-1920)
British Army Pension Records
Norfolk, Church of England Diocesan Baptismal Records, Saxlingham Nethergate
St Mary’s Church Saxlingham Marriage records (transcribed by Mary Muir)
The History of the Norfolk Regiment. Vol.II. – F. Loraine Petre. Norwich: Jarrold and Son Ltd. The Empire Press
www.grandadswar.org.uk Photographs and information about hospitals in Basra.
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