24811 SGT. W. E. MEYLER. LANCS.FUS.
William Ernest Meyler was born in the third quarter of 1886 at Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales. His father was William Meyler (b. 1853 in Dublin). It is not known when William left Ireland but he married, probably in 1880, to Ellen Teresa (maiden name not known, b. 1858 in St Helens). William may have been in the merchant navy as his first three children were born in Portsmouth, St Peters, Jersey, and Pembroke Dock, but by 1900 the family had settled in Preston where, in 1911, William was a warehouseman. He and Ellen had 11 children, 9 of whom survived: Constance (1884-1902), then William Ernest, Geraldine (b. 1889), Gladys (b. 1890), Eric Dudley (b. 1891), Elsie Muriel (b. 1894), Harold Coningsby (b. 1895), Cyril Clive (b. 1897), Laura Gwen (b. 1899) and Mildred Hannah (b. 1904).
In 1911, the Meyler family was living at Ainslie Road, Fulwood, but William Ernest had moved out and was living as a lodger at 15 School Lane, Freckleton and working as a shipping clerk for a railway company. From research published by Freckleton historians (I am grateful to Andrew Norris for the newspaper article, taken from the Preston Guardian in 1917), we learn that William Ernest Meyler was an excellent all-round sportsman:
He was very well known locally amongst the sporting fraternity, helping Freckleton to win the Fylde Amateur League and Cup, and helping Leyland win the Lancashire Alliance championship. With Banks St Stephen's, he won the Richardson Cup, and whilst playing for Longridge helped them win the West Lancashire League. He also played for the Preston Winkley team when they did exceptionally well in the English Amateur Cup, and it was said at the time that he was one of the finest amateur centre forwards in England. He also played for Preston North End Reserves. William Meyler also played cricket for Kirkham, and latterly for Fulwood.
According to SDGW, William enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with service number 20756, and as the article says, he was active as a recruiting agent in the formation of one of the LNLR companies until he transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers, 10 Battalion, with service number 24811. 10th (Service) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers came under the orders of 52nd Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division. During the Battle of the Somme this Division fought in the Battle of Albert, where it was responsible for the capture of Fricourt, and in the Battle of Delville Wood. We don’t know the date of this transfer but we do know that William was married in the spring of 1916 to Annie Wright (no biographical details known). And from the newspaper article it appears that William joined the Fusiliers in France around Christmas 1916. In January 1917, 10Bn were in the trenches near Guillemont. Although the official history says that the Battle of the Somme had concluded two months previously, fighting and shelling were still continuing and could sometimes be very intense. For example, for the month of November 1916, the War Diary records total casualties of 3 officers and 114 other ranks. The conditions were appalling: the trenches were cut up and liquid mud in places was 3-4 feet deep. William Ernest Meyler died of wounds on 3 February 1917, some five weeks after landing in France. He was 30 years old.
Service No: 24811
Date of Death: 03/02/1917
Regiment/Service: Lancashire Fusiliers, 10th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. N. 19.
Cemetery: GROVE TOWN CEMETERY, MEAULTE
Additional Information: Son of William and Ellen Meyler; husband of Annie Meyler, of The Hollies, Farington, Nr. Preston.
In 1923, Annie re-married, her second husband being Joseph Massey.
All three of William’s brothers fought in, and survived, the War.
Lt. Eric Dudley Meyler. Served in France from 18 August 1915, firstly as 2nd Lt. with the 1/4Bn King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), then as Lt. with 3Bn (a reserve Battalion, a training unit). He continued to serve with the Army after the War and is listed as sailing to Rangoon, Burma, in 1923, at which time he gives his address as The Hollies, Farington (his name and that of a superior officer have both been crossed out, indicating they may not actually have travelled). Died 1974, Ribble Valley.
46158 Pte. Harold Coningsby Meyler, Machine Gun Corps. Died 1972, Broughton.
161215 Pte. Cyril Charles Meyler, Royal Field Artillery. Died 1971, Preston.