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

Private 8869, 1st Bn The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
Died of Illness incurred as a Prisoner of War  10/10/1921, aged 36

Buried in St Peter and St Paul's Churchyard, Ewhurst

Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial and Book of Remembrance




WILLIAM ROSE was born in 1885 (estimated) in Ewhurst, the son of William, a butcher, and Clara Rose (born Ewhurst c1852) and brother of Ada (born Ewhurst 1881). At the age of 15, in 1901, William was living with his parents at Ivy Cottage in Ewhurst and working as a coach builder's labourer (possibly for Richard Pobgee of Thornbrook, Ewhurst, who, with his sons Arthur and Percy, is the only coachbuilder noted in the 1901 Census).


William enlisted in the Army at the depot of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment at Stoughton Barracks, Guildford between 1904 and 1906, to serve for a period of  12 years. Of this 7 years would be “with the colours” (in other words as a regular soldier) and the remaining 5 years would be with the Reserve. This period of service suggests that William would have been serving with the regular Army for a seven year period between 1904 and 1913. At this time the 1st Bn had seen service on the North-West Frontier and moved to India in 1904, where it remained before returning to England via Aden in 1909. Here they were to remain until the start of the First World War.

In the summer of 1909 Walter Stemp, a member of the Ewhurst Boy Scout Troop, attended the first Scout Jamboree at Crystal Palace. Walter recalled that the regimental band of The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment was in attendance, and on duty was a 'Bandsman Rose' from Ewhurst.

In 1911 William and the 1st Battalion were stationed at Warley Barracks, Brentwood, Essex. It is possible that, with the 1st Battalion,  William took part in the funeral of King Edward VII on 20th May 1910, the coronation of King George V on 22nd June 1911 (for which he would have been awarded the 1911 Coronation Medal).

At about this time, William's period of 7 years 'with the colours' would have expired, and he would have returned to civilian lifein Ewhurst, whilst being retained on the Reserve list for a further 5 years. It is possible that he attended the unveiling ceremony in 1913 of a commemorative window at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford celebrating  the 250th anniversary of the regiment's formation.

On 16th August 1913 William, aged 28, married Margaret Povey (aged 26) at the Church of St Peter and St Paul's in Ewhurst. The ceremony was presided over by the Rev. Archibald Clark-Kennedy and witnesses by Williams friend, another Reserve soldier, Frederick Aylwin and Nora Cumber. William's given occupation was as a wheelwright and Margaret's that of a domestic servant. Frederick was a Reserve member of the 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers, and had arrived in Ewhurst to work as a barman at the old Bull's Head public house around 1911.


With the start of the First World War on 4th August 1914, all Reserve soldiers were mobilized to their parent units. The 1st Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment were based at Bordon Camp in Hampshire as were the 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers. In Ewhurst, William Rose and Frederick Aylwin would have received notice of mobilization at the same time at around 4th August 1914.  As preparation for mobilisation, Reserve soldiers held identification papers which included a railway warrant and a postal order with the restriction "negotiable only on mobilisation". William and Frederick would have proceeded, possibly together, to rejoin their units at Bordon Camp, from where, both as members of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division of the British Expeditionary Force, they would have departed for France.

At the time of the declaration of war, the 1st Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment were based at Bordon Camp in Hampshire. They had been participating in a training camp at Rushmoor, near Aldershot when, on 1st August 1914, they suddenly received orders to return to Bordon. The order for General Mobilization arrived on the 4th,  and the battalion began to receive Reserve soldiers, like William the following day.  Also in the battalion at this time was Frank Sellings, a Regular soldier from Ewhurst.

Over the 5th and 6th August, the battalion received 580 reservists, and the mobilization was complete by the 7th August. The 8th and the 9th were spent preparing the reservists on the rifle range and practising attacks, and on the 12th the battalion paraded in two companies for the journey to France. They left Bordon by train, bound for Southampton, and embarked, 27 officers and 971 other ranks, on the S.S. Braemar Castle, which sailed at 8.15pm. They landed at Le Havre at 9am on 13th August 1914. The battalion was to remain on the Western Front for the duration of the war. William Rose and  Frank Sellings were therefore the first Ewhurst men to arrive to take part in the conflict.



William and Frank arrived in France on 12th August 1914, one day ahead of Frederick and probably the first man from Ewhurst to arrive to take part in the conflict. His battalion was to remain on the Western Front for the duration of the war. On arrival in France the battalion first came under fire on the 24th August 1914, and on the same day engaged a small German cavalry group which approached their trenches.

An article in the Surrey Advertiser on 13th February 1915 reports that William had been reported as a Prisoner of War, and was being held at Gustrow in Mecklenburg (in north east Germany). At this stage of the war information regarding POWs was very sketchy, and it was not until 1916 that the International Red Cross had implemented a reliable reporting network for captured soldiers. It is likely therefore, that William was captured no later than the end of January 1915, and in all likelihood within 3 months of arriving in France. This period saw the battalion involved in the following engagements:


Battle of Mons. 23-24 Aug 1914,
Rearguard affair of Etreux. 27 Aug 1914,
Battle of the Marne. 7-10 Sep 1914,
Battle of the Aisne. 12-15 Sep 1914,
Actions of the Aisne Heights. 20 Sep 1914,
(Frederick Aylwin Killed in Action)
Action of Chivy. 26 Sep 1914,
Battle of Langemarck. 21-24 Oct 1914,.
Battle of Gheluvelt. 29-31 Oct 1914,.
Battle of Nunne Bosschen. 11 Nov 1914,
Defence of Givenchy. 20-21 Dec 1914,
First action of Givenchy. 25 Jan 1915.


In England the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment endeavoured to maintain a record of its members who had been confirmed as Prisoners of War. This book includes a record of the return of these soldiers, if appropriate. William's entry notes that he was held at Gustrow, and that his next of kin was Mrs Rose of Mascall's Cottages, Ewhurst, Guildford (presumably his wife Margaret). It also indicates a number of parcels sent to William by Miss Clark Kennedy (presumably the daughter of the Rector of Ewhurst).

Whilst at Gustrow William was one of the more fortunate prisoners who managed to be attached to a farm working camp. This would have provided better opportunities to supplement their living standards. A Foreign Office report dated 6th February 1918 mentions William and 5 colleagues (2) who were working on a farm at Alt-Kaetwin. The men had been at this location for some 14 months, and were described as well and amply clothed, although they had not received post or parcels since December. They tended to eat with their employers, worked 6 days a week ,and three of the men who were Roman Catholic, were allowed to attend mass in the village church. For their labour on the farm they were paid 30 Pfennig's per day (2).


At the end of the war in November 1918 the British Prisoners of War started to return home, often suffering from illness and disabilities induced by the years of deprivation that they had incurred by the years in captivity. William returned to Ewhurst with failing health to take up the occupation of a carpenter. For his service he received the 1914 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Suffering from the wounds that he had incurred at the Battle of Loos, Frank Sellings, the fellow Ewhurst man who had arrived in France on the same day as William in August 1914, finally died on 4th October 1919 in Ewhurst.

In November 1920 William witnessed the dedication of the Ewhurst War Memorial, including Frederick's name, . The following year his health finally failed. William Rose died at Mascall's Cottages in Ewhurst on 10th October 1921 from infective endocarditis (infection of the heart's inner lining), aged 36 (1). William was buried in the Ewhurst graveyard, his headstone stating " William Rose, who crossed over October 11th, 1921, aged 28 years, I hope to see my pilot face to face when I have crossed over the bar" (1). He shares his grave with William Webster and his wife Ada, who died in 1967 and 1926 respectively (see other information on William's family).

The Ewhurst Memorial Book notes that William "died, aged 36, in Ewhurst on 11/10/21 of illness incurred as a prisoner of war". His name was subsequently added to the War Memorial on the east face and therefore appears out of alphabetical order. He does not appear on the memorial plaque or in the Commonwealth War Records.


Other Information on William's Family:

William's father, William (born Wonersh c1854), was a butcher by occupation and the son of Mary Rose, who ran the White Hart public house in the 1870's. William & Clara married in 1878 and in 1881 were living in Ewhurst village. William's sister, Ada married William Whitley Webster (a founding member of the Ewhurst Bowling Club) died of TB at the age of 45 in 1926.


Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals


(1) Ewhurst Book of Remembrance specifies 36 years old, William's death certificate indicates 38 years old. As William got married in 1913 aged 28, it is likely that he was actually 36 years old at time of death. his grave stone in Ewhurst, however, specifies his date of death as 11/10/21 aged 38.
(2) FO383/390 William's colleagues at Alt-Kaetwin were Pte Charles Elgram, Royal Scots Fusiliers (No 8279), Pte John Hamill, Scots Guards (No 5523), Pte Arthur Thomas Kelly, North Lancs (No 2344), Pte Thomas Oakley Middlesex Regiment (No 10248) and Pte William Rose (?) Royal Scots Fusiliers (No 1045)



  • 1901 Census

  • Medal Record Cards PRO

  • The Queen's (RWSR) Prisoner of War Book, Surrey History Centre

  • Surrey Advertiser (Surrey History Centre)

  • William Rose's Death Certificate




Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey