William Thomas Ankers was born in 1897. He was recorded on the census of 1901 living with his family at Fens Bank Bronington. Head of the household was Thomas Ankers 33, a Cattleman on a Farm who had been born in Bradley. His wife was Sarah, 29 who had been born in Balmere, Salop. Their listed children were Harry 6 and William T 4. There was an Irish lodger – Patrick Gilleron – a shepherd.
The next census of 1911 records William Ankers aged 14, a servant living at the home of Gordon Thomas Groom, a Baker/Grocer who was 24 and had been born in Bronington. Gordon Groom’s family comprised his wife Louisa and their two daughters Mary 2 and Florence 9 months. His brother Reginald, a baker aged 27 ,was also part of the household. There were 8 servants including William Ankers who was listed as a Van Boy. There was another van boy – one Edwin Speakman also 14. He was from Bettisfield and is named on the war Memorial there.
UK Soldiers who died in The Great War 1914-19, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms the regimental details at the top of this page. It tells us that he had been born and resided in Bronington and that he had enlisted at Dunwich. This source says he ‘died’. This usually means illness or accident as opposed to killed in action or died of wounds. His Medal index card also on Ancestry, lists his two medals.
The Commonwealth War Grave’s Register of Graves lists William Thomas Ankers and says that he was ‘Accidentally killed on 19th March 1918 aged 21’.
The Register of Soldier’s Effects in which the army calculated outstanding monies owed to deceased soldiers, records that he was ‘Accidentally killed’ on 19th March 1918. His father Thomas was his sole Legatee and he received £22 ..1sh ..10d
There is an index card for William Ankers in The Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record Office in Hawarden. The address given is Long Lane Bronington. The card confirms the regimental details at the top of this page. It says he served for 2 years and 6 months. This source says he was ‘Killed in Action’ in France in March 1918. (No mention of an accident). The card was signed by Sarah Ankers on the 15th September 1919. (His mother?)
Frustratingly, although we knew that he had died as the result of an accident, we didn’t know what had actually happened to him. That is until early in 2017.
In January 2017 we were contacted by Paul Hancock. Paul is a medal collector and a decade ago he bought the medals of William Thomas Ankers. He undertook some research and discovered the following news cutting which finally explains what happened to this Bronington soldier. We are very grateful to Paul for sharing this information with us and for clearing up the mystery. The story is such a sad one. The newspaper cutting is a little tricky to read so it is transcribed below.