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William Major Lockett was born in Wolverhampton in 1877, the son of William and Elizabeth Lockett (nee Martin). He first appears in the 1881 census 7 Water Works Road, Tettenhall, together with his parents, sister Kater, brothers Thomas and Albt, and grandfather Edward Lockett. By 1891 their address is given as Yew Tree Place, 90 Waterworks Lane, and the family has expanded to include a further four children – Samuel, Harriet, Alice and Bertha. By 1901, the family has moved to 192 Clifton Road, but William is no longer with them. In 1911, he appears as a coachman to an Edward Wardlaw of “Millwood”, Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire.

William originally enlisted in the North Staffordshire Regiment (number 17860) on 1 July 1915, and was transferred to the West Yorkshire Regiment (number 31026). By 2 July 1916, he was released from the army. This is an extract of a letter in his military service records which described what happened in his own words:

I went to the Infirmary while I was in the army to go under an operation to have a vein taken out of my leg from the ankle to the top of the leg and had 48 stitches [sic] in it and is beginning to fail me in the knee I cannot attend my w as I ought to & I am being brought up in front of the tribunal on friday for neglect of work I have not had my discharge whatever only on army res; I am only to [sic] glad to keep up my work for I have a wife & 4 childn. to keep & while I was in the army I was on short pay for about 6 mths for nothing as I was allway straight and when I broke down I had a 1/–on friday as I cam [sic] home on Sataday [sic]

The letter is an appeal for help. In response, William was accepted into the No. 6 Reserve section of the Royal Army Veterinary Cops (number 26138). William married Gladys Alexander-Parry on 20 March 1917, and their daughter, Frances, was born on 24 February 1917. Strangely enough, however, the letter above was dated 3 March 1917, and mentions a wife and four children. Perhaps he had been married before and had further children, but I have been unable to confirm this. William Lockett died in Worcester in 1940 at the age of 62.