The Fallen of Ewhurst and Ellen's Green, Surrey  
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  William Albert Childs 

Private G/22310

2nd Bn The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Killed in Action 5/10/1917, aged 19

No Known Grave, but Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Roll of Honour, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Nr Ypres, Belgium (Panel 14 to 17)

Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing



WILLIAM ALBERT CHILDS was born in Coldharbour in 1898 (1), the fifth child of Arthur and Ruth. He had two elder brothers, Arthur Ernest (b1889) and Mark Bernard (b1892), and two elder sisters, Ruth Mabel (b 1894) and Alice A (b 1897). In 1901 the family lived at Ewhurst Green.  His sister Ruth was to marry Daniel Newman, who was wounded in action and subsequently died of illness on 01/06/1919.

William enlisted in the army at Stoughton Barracks in Guildford, the depot of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. His elder brothers also both served with the Queens (RWSR). Arthur served as Private 9653 with the 1st Battalion, and was taken Prisoner of War at some time prior to May 1915 (2). Mark served as Private 60131 before transferring to the Middlesex Regiment where he served as Private G/57016. Both survived the war.


The lack of the award of a 1914 or 1915 Star indicates William must have arrived overseas in 1916 or later. The 2nd Bn Queen's (RWSR) served as a part of 91st Brigade of the 7th Division  on the Somme area throughout 1916, including capturing the village of Mametz on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The  division remained in the Somme area through the winter of 1916/17 and fought at Ginchy and on the Ancre Heights before following the German withdrawal to the well prepared positions of the Hindenburg Line in the spring of 1917. Here they fought at Croiselles and Ecoust in April and at Bullecourt in May.


On 29th August 1917 the 2nd Bn Queen's (RWSR) moved, with the 7th Division, north to the Ypres Salient. The Third Battle of Ypres had commenced on 31st July 1917 and was to last until 10th November when the village of Passchendaele fell to the Allies.  The battle was divided into smaller actions and the 7th Division took part in actions at Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and Passchendaele. During this period 2nd Queen's saw action predominantly in the area of Polygon Wood.  The preceding week had seen heavy rain and the battlefield had turned into the quagmire now associated with the misery of the Third Battle of Ypres, often just referred to as Passchendaele.

Private William Albert Childs, remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing

The following day, on 5th October, Private William Childs was killed in action by a sniper. His death was detailed in a letter to his father from his commanding officer, and this was quoted in the Surrey Times on 27th October 1917:

“Killed by a Sniper – Mr A Childs of Ewhurst Green has received news that his son Pte William Childs, the Queen's was shot by a sniper on October 19th.  He was only 19.  Sec. Lt. C W Morgan writing to Mr Childs said ‘It is my painful duty to inform you of your son’s death in action on October 5th .  It will comfort you to know that his death was instantaneous, a sniper's bullet hitting him in the head.  Please accept mine and the platoons most sincere sympathy in your bereavement.  Your son was a good soldier and always carried out any task he was called upon to do well and cheerfully.  Believe me you can be proud of such a son.  He died doing his duty and we can ill afford to loose such men.”

William's body was never formally identified, and he is remembered, as one of the 34, 872 other officers and men who went missing with no known grave in the Salient after 16th August 1917,  on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke in Belgium.

William was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The Ewhurst Book of Remembrance incorrectly notes that William was "aged 18, killed in action in France in 1916"

Follow this link for more details about the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing


Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals


(1) 1901 Census, The Soldiers Died in the Great War gives place of birth as Ewhurst.
(2) An article in the Surrey Advertiser in May 1915 mentions a list of 450 men of the Queen's (RWSR) who were held captive. Arthur is mentioned as being held at Gottingen.


Other sources:

  • Book of Remembrance

  • Soldiers Died in the Great War

  • 1901 Census

  • Surrey Advertiser Archives (Surrey History Centre)

  • History of the Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment in the Great War, Col H C Wylly, C.B.

AEB 01/08/05










Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey