A NEPHEW has published a book in tribute to an uncle he never knew, who was killed in the last months of the First World War.
Andover lad William Goulding, of Eastfield Road, died in northern France at the age of 19 on 25 August, 1918, while serving with the Somerset Light Infantry (SLA).
His nephew Tony Goulding, who is now in his 70s and lives in Anna Valley, said: “I think William was closest to my father, Eddie, and we ended up with his papers, so I thought now was the right time to do this.
“Although, of course, I never met my uncle Willie, after reading his letters and researching his war I feel that I have got to know him. He seems to me to have been a really nice chap, loving to his parents and gran, just unlucky to have been born at the wrong time.
“The biggest regret for family researchers is to find that the soldiers’ records of the First World War were destroyed by German bombing during he Second World War.
“They were housed in London – it’s almost like the Germans getting their own back.”
Willie was serving with the SLA as the generals had, after the massacres of The Somme in 1916, realised that PALs brigades formed of hundreds of men from the same town or company could have a devastating impact on small communities at times of high attrition.
Willie’s brothers survived the war. His older brother served in the Royal Marines and was proud to carry the British Legion banner in parades.
Two others went on to work for the long-established publishers of the Andover Advertiser, Holmes and Sons, including Tony’s father, Eddie, who was a van driver for the company.
A Tribute to an Andover Lad Private William Goulding, by Tony Goulding, is available in Waterstone’s in Andover priced £4.50.