William (Willie) Forrester was born in Marchwiel, Wrexham on 23rd July, 1897 and was the sixth of seven children to William Henry Forrester and Caroline (Chapman).
Willie’s mother, who was born in West Bromwich, died at Abenbury, near Wrexham, in September 1900, aged 36, and was buried in St Marcella’s Churchyard, Marchwiel.
At the time of the 1901 census, the family were living at 17, Palmer Street, Wrexham, then a few months later Mr Forrester married spinster Elizabeth Ann Conway and they had a son, Berty Conway, who was born and died in 1902, and a daughter Mabel Agnes (1906–1999).
The 1911 census found William Henry as Proprietor of the Royal Oak Inn, Bagillt with wife Elizabeth as “Assisting in Business,” and by the time the war began they had moved to the Yacht Inn, Oakenholt.
Willie’s brother, Thomas Henry, served with the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers as Private No. 12582, from 31st August, 1914 to March, 1919, and was mentioned in a letter home, dated 12th February, 1916, by Corporal John Bellis, also of the 8th RWF.
“Dear Sister & Bro
Just a few lines in answer to your letter I received safe but I have not seen anything of the parcel which you say you sent along with the fiths? But all the mails were held back Christmas time owing to the evacuations of the Peninsula. I was in the both evacuations of Suvla Bay & Cape Helles as our division made a success @ Suvla we had to go to Cape Helles to do the evacuation there and we got a rough time of it too.
We are now in Egypt and out of danger at present. I don’t know for how long but I believe we are out for a good spell this time. There is talk of us going to do garrison duty. I had a letter from H Forrester last week the first we had heard of him since last August he has been at hospital at Cairo with scarlet fever. he is now waiting for new teeth. It is very hot here in the day. Hulley & Co are all doing well. I now conclude hope you are all quite well as it leaves me.
Your Affec Bro Jack”
The “Hulley” he referred to was Private Joseph Albert Hulley. Willie never married and his occupation is unknown.
He enlisted in Wrexham on 23rd February, 1918 with the South Wales Borderers, No. 48633, but it is not known when he was transferred to the RWF.
He was killed in action in France on 4th September, 1918 and buried in the Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, France (Plot VII, Row R, Grave 4).
He is remembered on two war memorials: Flint Town and St David’s Parish Church, Oakenholt. He is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint (Grave 10, Line 37, South Side). He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Willie’s father, William Henry, was born in Ruabon and died 31st December, 1918, aged 56, after a long illness, at the Yacht Inn, Oakenholt.
Mr Forrester was of a most genial and generous disposition, and was well known and highly respected in the neighbourhood. Before moving to Flint he was a farmer in Five Fords, Marchweil. Apart from William his three other sons also served their King and country in the war.
His second wife, Elizabeth Ann, was a native of Bagillt and had lived in the Village nearly all her life. Mrs Forrester was an active member of St Mary’s Parish Church, a member of the Mothers’ Union, and a member of the women’s section of the British Legion. She died on 23rd December, 1945, aged 67, at her home, 10, Hanmer Terrace, Bagillt, and buried with her husband.