Private 8356 William Player
William Player was born December 15th 1882 at 36 Co-operation Street, Stafford, Staffordshire. His parents were Cordwainer Thomas Player (Born Bristol 1834), and Bookbinder Mary Player (Born Stafford 1838). William's father died 1886. William initially decided to follow the footsteps of his father, and was a ”Apprentice to the shoe trade” in 1901. Several others of his family was also employed in the ”shoe trade”.
It would appear that William wanted to experience somthing else, as he enlisted, on New Years day 1901, for 7 years in the British Army (Northumberland Fusiliers) and 5 years in the reserve. He joined at Stafford and was posted to N.F. Depot on January 1st 1902. William attested at Lichfield the same day. His trade was recorded as shoemaker, and other details were height 5 ft. 4 ½ inches tall, and chest when fully expanded was 35 inches, weighing 120 lbs.
On August 1st 1902, he was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal with 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, but he was reverted to Private at his own request on October 16th 1902, at this time he was serving with 1st Battalion. William served in South Africa from December 16th 1902, until the battalion transferred to Mauritius April 7th 1903.
On March 25th 1903 at Wynberg S.S., William caused a disturbance in the barrack room at about 11.55 and resisted escort. He was sentenced 96 hours hard labour. A couple of weeks later, on April 13th 1903, he was sentenced 12 hours in the cell, for not complying with an order, and at Curepipe Mauritius, on April 25th 1904 and September 5th 1905, he was on both occasions sentenced to 8 days 'Confined to Barracks for being drunk in town.
On June 1st 1904, he decided to extended his service with the colours to 8 years, and 4 years in the reserve. William arrived in India on February 9th 1906, and it was during his time in India, he took part in the 1908 Mohmand Expedition, and qualified for the India General Service Medal with North West Frontier 1908 clasp. In Calcutta January 29th 1909, William was sentenced to do 96 hours detention and also fined 3 shillings and 6 pence, for being drunk when parading for trooping the colours. He returned to England on January 20th 1910, and was transferred to Army Reserve two days later. In 1911,
William lived at his birthplace with his mother, two sisters, one brother, one brother in law and a nephew. He is recorded on the 1911 Census as general labourer.
William was mobilized August 5th 1914 and posted to 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers the next day. William entred the theatre of war when he disembarked in France October 27th 1914, posted to 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Slightly wounded in the hand at Poperinghe on March 11th 1915. William returned to duty twelwe days later.
The 1st Battalion made their way to Bellewaarde on 15th June 1915 to attack the German lines on Wednesday 16th June. During the action that day, 8356 Private William Player, X Company, 1st Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers was captured by the enemy. He was reported missing at roll call after the battle and his records confirmed this two days later. On August 8th 1915, William was confirmed as a Prisoner of War, interned at Sennelager III in Germany. There are no other details until, after 3 years and 179 days in captivity, He was repatriated back to England on December 12th 1918.
William was posted to 4th Reserve Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers on February 15th and demobilized March 26th 1919. He had served 17 years and 85 days. It is clear that William had difficulties adjusting to civilian life, as he re-enlisted with the Labour Corps numbered 700035, on May 29th 1919. Joined 3rd Labour Company on June 26th 1919, which was completing the unpleasant task of exhumation and reburial of bodies on the battlefields in France.
William was discharged from the Labour Corps on November 27th 1919, unfit for service, suffering from malaria and rheumatism. The malaria originated from Mauritius in 1904.
William, again, attested for one year in the Territorial Force, numbered 5041811 with 6th North Staffordshire Regiment, on July 15th 1921. On enlistment, he was 37 years old, 5 ft. 22 inch. tall, weighing 140 lbs., chest measured when fully expanded 35 inches. His records indicate he had dark eyes and his hair was grey. He attended the annual camp from July 31st to August 14th 1921.
William was finally discharged ”His service being no longer required” on August 31st 1922.
William never married or had any children. His next of kin was his sister Mary Draper, living at 12 Co-operation Street in Stafford. Sadly, William died in early 1928. He was 45 years old, having spent a large proportion of his life in the British Army. One can only imagine what he had been through – and even though there's no proof, it's easy to believe that the service and captivity had an influence on his early death.
By kind permission of Bjoern Klausen