William George Whiffen


William was born on 17th December 1886 in Dorset, Southern England, the 10th of 13 children. The family moved to North Baddesley near Southampton, Hampshire and by 1904 had started collecting postcards, his album survives to this day.

 He moved to a job at Durley Saw Mills, about 12 miles away, staying for 18 months before following his brother to Belleville, Ontario (his brother, James, having swapped his tickets on the Titanic when another family needed to get to New York quickly. Consequently, James and his family arrived safely on the Ascania).

 Living in Belleville, William worked on the railway as a fireman, joining the 15th Militia Regiment before enlisting on 17th November 1914 with the 21st Battalion. His Attestation Papers say he was  5' 6" tall with a 39 inch chest, grey eyes, brown hair, ruddy completion and 4" chest expansion.

 At Christmas 1914 he joined with the 'Left Half' of the 21st for their Christmas Dinner - a traditional menu with a rallying song between courses.

 He sailed to England with his battalion on 6th May 1915 and was stationed in Kent with “H” Company, 21st Infantry, 4th Brigade, 2nd Division.

 While training in Kent, England, he got leave to marry his sweetheart, Lillian Parfitt. He was described on his wedding certificate as a 'Soldier from Hinton Parva', a tiny farming hamlet in Dorset where Lillian was born in 1880. At the time of her marriage she worked as a cook for the Bishop of Salisbury, her father being head dairyman on the same estate.

 From September 1915 William was in France as a battalion cook. He was sent a Christmas card from Lt Col Hughes when the 21st Battalion CEF was at the 'Porridge Factory en route for Berlin'.

 Apart from one incident when he was hospitalized in Boulogne with an impacted wisdom tooth and an abscess in his lower jaw, he serve with his battalion being granted leave a few times after the war was over, eventually being de-mobbed in England on 1st May 1919.

 He joined his wife and their son, moving to Southampton, where he worked with the local council cleaning the streets with a horse and cart. He left there in 1925 to reclaim scrap metal barges from the river before being taken on a year later as a boilerman at the British American Tobacco factory which was at the end of his road.

Sgt WGH Whiffen

 He died on 26th August 1940, aged 54 years from a heart attack. He now lies in an unmarked grave in Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton, England

 

WG Whiffen

This is an interesting photo of Sgt WG Whiffen in that the family has made a cut-out and inserted a photo of his wife, Lillian, and his eldest son, Kenneth, who was a Royal Airforce pilot and shot down in the Mediterranean in WW 2. 

 

WG Whiffen

This photo was probably taken prior to him going to France.  Possibly in Kingston, or at Sandling Camp in 1915

WG Whiffen

Here you see William Whiffen, on the left with the pipe, sitting on the steps of the barracks at Sandling Camp in England with an un-named soldier.

WG Whiffen

William Whiffen as a civilian after the war

 

A Christmas gift that Sgt Whiffen sent home from the front in 1916.

 

WG Whiffen

Above is a German ring that Sgt Whiffen brought home from the trenches as a souvenir.  Most likely relieved from a German POW

 

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