World War I
Ramsden Bellhouse
William Charles Garland

William Charles Garland was born in 1898, according to the 1901 Census as he is recorded as being three years old.
He joined up in Woolwich, 7th September 1914 aged allegedly 19 years and 150 days, in reality he was around 17, far too young to fight overseas. However he wasn’t of slight build which went in his favour. He was nearly five foot five inches tall, weighed 120lbs and had a thirty six inch chest, which was bigger than his older brother, Percy’s. William had a ruddy complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair. He job at the time was a groom. He went into the Royal Wet Kent Regiment and had the service number 2086, and began training in Purfleet. The latter wasn’t a healthy place as William was given two antityphoid injections whilst there
William wasn’t the best of behaved soldiers and over the next few years he was constantly in trouble, mainly for overstaying his time from barracks. Wherever he was he ended up being confined to barracks, firstly Purfleet, then Colchester and finally Codford in Wiltshire.
The Regiment embarked for France in July 1915, and did not join the frontline until the following August, having spent more time in training. Here they entered the dull routine of trench life, at the front, in the rear, being used as railway constructors and the like.
July saw them in the line on the Somme, where they were holding a sector that was repeatedly shelled during the now infamous Big Push. They were involved in fierce fighting at Trones Wood and the Schwaben Redoubt, all of which cost men yet William still survived.
In March 1917 William was diagnosed with a mammary abcess and was returned to England for surgery and rehabilitation. In all he was in hospital nearly 5 months, having started in Boulogne and then being transferred to Chatham, then to Chipstead. There was talk of linking it to TB hence the long stay in hospital.
It wasn’t until December 1917 that William returned to the front and the 6th Battalion of the Royal West Kents. The following January his daughter Patience was born, she would never meet her father.
William now faced the onslaught of the Kaiserslacht, the final German push to the Channel ports and the splitting of the French and British forces. The battalion was in the thick of it, in Albert, and then on the Ancre.
In the next few months Spanish Flu swept through the battalion, and William fell victim of the epidemic, he went to the 56th Casualty Clearing station and went no further as he was so ill. He died 3rd July 1918 from influenza, having been at war for nearly 4 years aged 22 according to the Commonwealth War Gaves, but only 20 in the 1901 Census is to be believed. Six days later his wife Florence received a telegram telling her the bad news. In January 1919, Florence and Patience received a pension of 20s 5d per week. By this time she had moved from their home in Lower Halstow, Kent to a farm in Goldhanger near Maldon. Subsequently Florence remarried and the names of all the Garland boys were entered on to the Ramsden Memorial.
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