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TOPIC: 7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901

7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901 2 months 1 week ago #64645

  • BereniceUK
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR.
Some of our soldiers at the front are not forgetting the "Express," as we have now received three letters, personally addressed to "The Editor," from Burnley men. One was published last week, and at the request of the writer, another is held over till next Saturday. The one we give below arrived on Saturday, and is from (7,085) Private T. Spencer and (7,086) Private W. Blakey, R.A.M.C., who were at Range Worthy, on January 20. These two "Express" readers write: "Dear Sir, - Just a few lines to you to let you know how things are progressing out here, as far as we are concerned. There is a battle raging now, and most of the Lancashire brigade are in action now and giving a good account of themselves. No doubt you will have seen a list of killed and wounded before you receive this letter. But we are only sending you items of our personal observations, and of Burnley men we come in contact with. There is one man of the name of Ashworth, of Accrington-road, of the West Yorkshires, who has come in hospital, and is seriously wounded, but to relieve the anxiety of any friends of his we are glad to report all well with him, as his wound is just on the skull. He received it from the bursting of a shell, which went right through his helmet, and he exclaimed, "That's a little bit off the top!" The wounded in hospital are bearing their misfortune well, and it is amusing sometimes to hear them chaffing each other. There is one of the 2nd Queen's, who has lost his arm, and one of the West Yorks, who has lost his leg, and both doing well, and saying what they will do when they come home. One will play the tin whistle, and the other go round with the cap! We had 108 came to our hospital this morning, all wounded, but only two serious. We have one of the South Lancashires shot right through the neck, and he is walking about with a stiff neck. We have come across a young man who left Church-street with his father and mother about 3½ years ago, and was personally acquainted with Charles Barritt, of Yorkshire-street, and his name is Whitehead, and he is serving Her Majesty the Queen out here as one of the Volunteer Ambulance Corps. His brother, Joe, belongs to the Natal Mounted Infantry, and they were present at the battle of Colenso, where we are sorry to say we lost heavily. But the tide has turned, as the Boers are surrounded at every point, and the fighting is going on brisk as we are writing this. We have just dressed the wounds of three Boer prisoners and sent them down country to Estcourt - one an old man of 63 with his leg shattered. We are six miles from Ladysmith now, and one portion of the division can go in at any time. So we will conclude with this small item of news. We remain, yours truly, T. SPENCER and W. BLAKEY , two Lancashire lads.

The Burnley Express, Wednesday 21st February 1900
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BURNLEY RESERVIST HOME FROM THE WAR.
THE TREATMENT IN HOSPITAL.
AN EXCITING INCIDENT.
Quietly yesterday morning, there arrived in Burnley from South Africa a soldier of the name of Private W. Blakey, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who landed at Southampton on Thursday morning, having come on board the Avoca. In the meantime he had been at Woolwich Hospital, which institution he left on Monday morning. He had been expected to arrive in Burnley in the evening, but this was not to be, for on getting to Manchester he found no train to bring him forward to Burnley, inasmuch as it was then midnight. A number of Private Blakey's friends had purposed giving him a reception. It was never dreamt, however, that he would get to his native town so early as between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, and this it was which frustrated the intentions of his companions. Private Blakey, who is a reservist, volunteered for active service with his old regiment in October. He had been with General Buller's column, and was present at the different engagements leading up to the relief of Ladysmith. "I was prevented from getting to the besieged town," he said to an "Express" representative, "on account of spraining my back whilst digging a trench. That necessitated my being confined to the hospital," he added, "where I was doubled up for three weeks." Whilst in the hospital, it appeared, Private Blakey was seized with dysentery. When asked if he took part in any actual fighting, he replied in the negative, saying laughingly, "it was our duty to repair the fighting men for further service." Alluding to the hospital scandals, he said, "from what I have seen of Tommy I can say he is really well treated in hospital, and besides," he continued, "the inhabitants in Natal have also done their best to make his lot comfortable. I was in a convent hospital at Estcourt, where the Sisters stayed up with us all night and day and could not do enough for us. A priest who was there also came round day and night to cheer us up. They have behaved champion to Tommy," was his concluding remark on this subject. Next Private Blakey made allusion to an exciting incident of which he was an eye-witness, and which took place on Spearman's Hill. "Here," he said, "a Boer attacked a Lancashire Fusilier with a bayonet which I presume the enemy took from us at the battle of Dundee. The Fusilier, who was without his rifle at the time, received a wound from the Boer's bayonet, yet it did not prevent him from seizing hold of the Boer. "Then," he said, a desperate struggle took place. This was close to the edge of a precipice, over which the Fusilier flung his antagonist, who was dashed to pieces on the rocks about 200 feet below.

The Burnley Express, Wednesday 11th July 1900
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DEATHS.
Sept. 9. - William Blakey, Rawcliffe-st., 33 years.
_____

DEATH OF A RETURNED BURNLEY SOLDIER.
A CASE FOR CHARITABLY DISPOSED PERSONS.
On Thursday afternoon the funeral took place at the Burnley Parish Church of Pte. Wm. Blakey, of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Pte. Blakey, who lived with his wife and family in Rawcliffe-street, was a reservist, and soon after the outbreak of the South African war responded to the call to arms. In the field hospital to which he was attached he did much good work, and was held in high respect by all his comrades. Like many others who were present in the earlier stages of the campaign, his duties were of a very varied character, and amongst others was that of assisting in digging trenches. Whilst engaged in this work he was seriously injured in the back, and lay in hospital for some time. Eventually he was invalided home, but not before he had contracted one or two of the other diseases which have proved so fatal to our brave soldiers. This was after he had been in South Africa for some twelve months, and a similar period has elapsed since he came back to Burnley. Prior to going out to the front he had followed the occupation of a blacksmith. Physical infirmity, however, prevented his attending the forge for more than two days during the whole of that twelve months, and though he was wholly unfit at the time, he felt obliged to do so for the sake of those near and dear to him. After a most painful illness, death released him in the early part of the week. At the request of the relatives, the choir boys of St.Peter's Church sang "Lead, kindly Light" at the house, which is opposite St.Peter's School, and where he had often been delighted by hearing the choir when rehearsing. Inasmuch as Pte. Blakey has left a widow and five young children, the case is a very sad one, and is deserving the sympathy of those benevolently inclined.

The Burnley Express, Saturday 14th September 1901
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7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901 2 months 1 week ago #64646

  • Frank Kelley
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William Blakey, an eighteen year old blacksmith from Burnley had originally joined the MSC between Christmas and new year 1885 and served until transferring to the reserve on the 1st of June 1889, specially retained to serve with the Colours, he re joined the Army, the RAMC on the 24th of October 1899, as an 3rd Class Orderly and served as member of the Corps until his discharge on the 27th of November 1900, having returned from South Africa on the 5th of July 1900.
His next of kin is shown as his father, John Blakey, of number 39 Forest Street, Burnley and his wife, Emily, who he married upon the 2nd of November 1892 at the Parish Church Burnley Lane,
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7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901 2 months 1 week ago #64651

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His QSA and clasps was certainly a well earned example.

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7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901 2 months 1 week ago #64652

  • BereniceUK
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Thank you very much for your comprehensive post, Frank. I'll have to go and have a look around St Peter's churchyard for a gravestone.

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7086 Private William Blakey, Royal Army Medical Corps - died at Burnley,9.9.1901 2 months 1 week ago #64665

  • Frank Kelley
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I think this particular report is very interesting, I wonder who that Lancashire Fusilier actually was, he was most unlucky to have been bayoneted by the enemy, I would think a very rare and unusual occurrence, given that generally the enemy did not use the bayonet and were not keen on hand to hand combat either.



BereniceUK wrote:

The Burnley Express, Wednesday 21st February 1900

_________________

BURNLEY RESERVIST HOME FROM THE WAR.
THE TREATMENT IN HOSPITAL.
AN EXCITING INCIDENT.
Quietly yesterday morning, there arrived in Burnley from South Africa a soldier of the name of Private W. Blakey, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who landed at Southampton on Thursday morning, having come on board the Avoca. In the meantime he had been at Woolwich Hospital, which institution he left on Monday morning. He had been expected to arrive in Burnley in the evening, but this was not to be, for on getting to Manchester he found no train to bring him forward to Burnley, inasmuch as it was then midnight. A number of Private Blakey's friends had purposed giving him a reception. It was never dreamt, however, that he would get to his native town so early as between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, and this it was which frustrated the intentions of his companions. Private Blakey, who is a reservist, volunteered for active service with his old regiment in October. He had been with General Buller's column, and was present at the different engagements leading up to the relief of Ladysmith. "I was prevented from getting to the besieged town," he said to an "Express" representative, "on account of spraining my back whilst digging a trench. That necessitated my being confined to the hospital," he added, "where I was doubled up for three weeks." Whilst in the hospital, it appeared, Private Blakey was seized with dysentery. When asked if he took part in any actual fighting, he replied in the negative, saying laughingly, "it was our duty to repair the fighting men for further service." Alluding to the hospital scandals, he said, "from what I have seen of Tommy I can say he is really well treated in hospital, and besides," he continued, "the inhabitants in Natal have also done their best to make his lot comfortable. I was in a convent hospital at Estcourt, where the Sisters stayed up with us all night and day and could not do enough for us. A priest who was there also came round day and night to cheer us up. They have behaved champion to Tommy," was his concluding remark on this subject. Next Private Blakey made allusion to an exciting incident of which he was an eye-witness, and which took place on Spearman's Hill. "Here," he said, "a Boer attacked a Lancashire Fusilier with a bayonet which I presume the enemy took from us at the battle of Dundee. The Fusilier, who was without his rifle at the time, received a wound from the Boer's bayonet, yet it did not prevent him from seizing hold of the Boer. "Then," he said, a desperate struggle took place. This was close to the edge of a precipice, over which the Fusilier flung his antagonist, who was dashed to pieces on the rocks about 200 feet below.

The Burnley Express, Wednesday 11th July 1900
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