BELEY, Wilfred

Beley, W28905 Private, 16th Bn. Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)

Born

7th November 1880, in Ottery St. Mary, Devon, son of George Parsons Beley (dec'd) and Hannah Beley of Cambridge House, The Grove, Blackheath.

Education

Blundell's School, “School House” from the age of 15 in May 1897 to Easter 1898.

Personal details

On enlistment Wilfred Beley was described as being 35 years old, 6’1¾” tall, having a 40” chest, blue eyes, fair hair and fair complexion. He was a member of the Church of England. He gave his profession as Insurance Inspector.

Service

He had served for 3 years in the 20th Middlesex regiment after leaving school but went to Canada from where he re-enlisted on 23rd September 1914.

Death

23rd Apr 1915, aged 35.
He went missing during a night attack on 22nd April 1915 and in June 1915 his sister wrote requesting information. She received a reply from the Company Paymaster who wrote “unfortunately even his own personal friends and those who were near him on the night of April 22nd cannot give me any details about him. Like a great many of our boys, he simply vanished into the darkness and amongst the trees during the charge we made. He may have been taken prisoner; but at this date, unless he has written to you, that is a very slender possibility. The other alternative, and that is a very sad one for you, is that he died in the field. He was personally known to me and was very popular with his comrades. At all times and under the most trying circumstances he showed the greatest courage and the Colonel is sorry to have lost such an excellent soldier. You may feel proud of your brother’s memory; he did his duty nobly for his King and Country”.

Burial/Commemoration

Private Beley has no known grave so is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, (Flanders). Panel 24 - 26 - 28 - 30.

Memorial

The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road, astride the main Menin to Courtrai (Kortrijk) Road. This site was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917, and now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, and unveiled by Lord Plumer in July 1927.
Each night at 8 pm the traffic through the gate is stopped while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches. Nearby the Cloth Hall Museum has an excellent interpretation centre but apparently no research facility.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
The Canadian Archives, collectionscanada.ca RG 150 1992-93/166 Box 603-35
“The Blundellian”, July 1915 p184.
Cemeteries & Memorials in Belgium & Northern France (2004) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 5/58
Field visit (JEA & GRY April 2006)

 

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