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William John Steer, 1886 to 1915

William Steer (Leicestershire Yeomanry, Trooper 2144), was killed in action at Frezenberg, Belgium, (the second battle of Ypres), on 13th May 1915 aged 28.

William John Steer was born in Henbury near Bristol in 1886, to Frederick and Alice Steer. Frederick was a coachman and groom. William and his elder brother (also called Frederick), both followed in his footsteps and went on to work with horses. By the age of 15, in 1901, William had left home and was employed as a groom in Hazelbeach, Northamptonshire. After this he moved to Groby (in Leicestershire), before his final move to Quorn.

In 1910 he married 18 year old Emily Webster in Quorn, daughter of local baker, Thomas Webster, and the couple lived together on Soar Road.

Having always been involved with horses, it was a logical for William to join the Leicestershire Yeomanry. It would appear that he joined up in either 1911 or 1912, as he sent a postcard to his wife from his base at Lutterworth on 30th May 1912 (see picture). By this time Emily was pregnant with their first child and living back with her parents at their bakers shop and home on High Street, Quorn.
The postcard says:

My dear Em
Your letter to hand, pleased to hear you are alright, I am not half tidy, this is the by word. Excuse me not writing a letter but I thought I would get all the men on here. I hope your mother is better. Master Don has gone away, he went this morning at 6.10 until Saturday morning, don’t look at my phisog(*) it is not a very good one.
With best of love I am your loving husband Billy
xxxx
xxxx
love to all at home

* On the card this word is unclear, but phizog/phisog (face), seems the best guess. It is also difficult to tell which soldier is William, but middle row, first left seems likely.

Emily and William had two children; Elsie born late in 1912 and Leonard born in the middle of 1914. Sadly William was killed before his youngest child’s first birthday and when Emily was only 23. William's body was never recovered, but there is an inscription on the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres (Panel 5). He also appears on the Quorn War Memorial and the War Memorial in Groby.

In 1928 Emily remarried. Her second husband was George Holmes, who worked at Wright’s factory, and was related to the well known Quorn Blacksmiths of the same name.


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 Submitted on: 2012-04-05
 Submitted by: Pete and Jill Johnson
 Artefact ID: 1562
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.
 
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