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Born: 1896, Bradford
Address: Roseberry Avenue, Carr Lane, Windhill
Parents: William & Elizabeth nee Whelan
Siblings: Nora, Margaret
Occupation: Hairdresser, Micklethwaite’s, Godwin Street, Bradford
Rank: Pte
Medals/awards: Military Medal
Rolls of Honour:
Regiment: RAMC
William Francis Abberton
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On 9 June 1916, the Shipley Times & Express reported: Pte William Francis Abberton, R.A.M.C., who formerly resided with his aunt, Miss Margaret Whelan, Roseberry Avenue, Carr Lane, Windhill, has been decorated for service at the Front. He has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery whilst taking bandages and stretchers to the wounded under heavy shell fire. Only 20 years of age, he joined the colours in September of last year, going to France four months ago. In civil life he was employed as a hairdresser by Messrs Micklethwaite, Godwin Street, Bradford. The first intimation of his success came in the form of a postscript to a letter written to some friends by Pte C R Moss R.A.M.C. who said, “Do you know Abberton’s of Roseberry Avenue, Carr Lane, Windhill? Willie is in the ambulance section and has been awarded the Military Medal along with another chap from Silsden, named Jarman. “It is in recognition of bravery in fetching stretchers and bandages under shell fire.” One Wednesday morning, in a letter to Miss Whelan, Pte Abberton wrote: “the other night we were all called out at about 11 o’clock and we had to stand to until about one o’clock. “There was a big bombardment in progress. We erected a hospital in a schoolroom and were well equipped with stretchers and haversacks in about one hour “You will be surprised to hear – but not as much as I – that the chap who was recommended for the honour about a month ago and myself have been awarded the Military Medal. London Gazette “The fact will be announced in the London Gazette in due course. We have not actually received the medal yet but the Commanding Officer has congratulated us and given us a hearty handshake. “It has also been read out in the orders. It will not be long before I get it. “The other chap comes from Silsden and we are both in the same section. We are both from
Yorkshire and we are both hot stuff too.” It was a year later, reported on 28 September 1917, that William was to get the medal pinned on his chest: A pleasing function was held at Somerset House, Shipley, at the close of the Education Committee meeting on Monday evening when Pte William Abberton, a Shipley man attached to the R.A.M.C., was presented with the Military Medal. Pte Abberton, whose parents reside at 13 Rosebury Avenue, Windhill, had not been home since the award was made. He had been, however, decorated with the colours in front of the whole of his regiment on the field at the time of winning the decoration. Abberton is a very modest young man, 21 years old and single. He joined the army voluntarily upon the outbreak of war, being then employed as assistant by Mr J S Micklethwaite, hairdresser, Godwin Street, Bradford. Although not naturally of strong constitution, Abberton, so he declared to a Times & Express reporter, has not known a single minute’s indisposition during he is service. He is a member of St Walburga’s R.C. Church, Shipley, and highly respected. In fact, Father O’Sullivan described him to our representative as “a most loveable boy of a rather retiring disposition.” Pte Abberton, who resided with his aunt, Miss Whelan, in Rosebery Avenue, Windhill, was educated at St Walburga’s School, Shipley. Two years ago he joined the 107th Field Ambulance and has been in continuous service since that time. He was then only 19 years of age. He was not a robust youth but he patriotically joined up when he could have escaped had he desired to do so.
The circumstances under which he was awarded the Military Medal were as follows: On May 8th, 1916, he was one of two men with the doctor seeing to wounded men in the fighting line and the doctor found himself short of stretchers and bandages. Pte Abberton at once volunteered to go back for these appliances. It was a very brave thing to do because he had to cross an area which was being subjected to incessant shell fire from the enemy. The doctor feared that it would be impossible for Pte Abberton to get through alive but he succeeded in getting there and back with the ambulance aids which the doctor required. For that he was awarded the Military Medal, being one of the first to receive this decoration which had only just been adopted as a reward for services in the field. Pte Abberton should have received the medal more than a year ago but he had been in France and now Father O’Sullivan had interested himself and had succeeded in getting the medal presented before Pte Abberton returns to France. In making this presentation Cllr Hill said he desired, on behalf of the Council and the people of Shipley to compliment him on his conduct as a soldier and to congratulate him on the recognition he had received. Cllr Hill then affixed the medal to the hero’s coat. Responding, Pte Abberton said he must thank them for their kind appreciation of him and also for the trouble they had taken to get the medal for him and for presenting it to him. He had only done his duty as a soldier. Father O’Sullivan, in an eloquent speech, said: “It is no small honour to be singled out from a large body of soldiers, all of whom are ‘doing their bit’ and to be awarded the Military Medal.
“He is very much to be congratulated and I join the chairman in wishing him every congratulation and hope also that he will come back from the war – when this terrible war is over – safe and sound to his friends. “Only yesterday a schoolfellow of Abberton’s was reported to have been killed in action – a young man named Sidney Whitcliffe, who was at home six weeks ago. His mother has now received a letter from the Commanding Officer in the field that her son has died, bravely defending his Commanding Officer. Lost terribly “The nations at war have now lost terribly both in men and in the expenditure of fabulous sums of money. And all the time the men have to suffer. “This war should never have been. We were not the cause of it. Throughout the whole British Empire we are a peaceful, commercial community. We have no desire for conquest. We have nearly all the choice bits of the world in our possession and all we want is to keep them in our possession. “ Cllr C E Learyod, as chairman of the Education Committee, said that he would take some credit for that committee as having been responsible for some of the development of the hero. It was encouraging to them as public workers. Pte Abberton was brought up in which was an unappropriated school and it was very creditable to the school. It was a very great pleasure, whatever denomination they belonged to, to show appreciation from whatever quarter it fell from. It was doubly gratifying to those who were Protestants to see that it had come from that part of the town which they had every cause to respect. Cllr Hill then presented Pte Abberton with the sum of £3 3s, the result of a whip-round among the councillors present. Pte Abberton thanked the council for this altogether unexpected present which, he added naively, he could “find a use for.”
“Two years ago he joined the 107th Field Ambulance and has been in continuous service since that time. He was then only 19 years of age. He was not a robust youth but he patriotically joined up when he could have escaped had he desired to do so.”