Bourne pals mourn a friend

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Young pals from Bourne serving at the front had to deal with the loss of another of their comrades.

Pte William Blanchard from Bourne died in action in 1916, killed by a mortar while his company was repairing trenches.

Up until the time he joined up, William (known as Will or Willie) had been a scholar in the senior class of boys in the Congregational Sunday School where news of his death was received “with profound regret”.

A memorial service was held at Bourne Congregational Church in his memory. The Rev J Comyn conducted the service, paying tribute to William’s life and character.

A friend of William’s, Pte Sam J Tippler – one of four brothers in the King’s service – wrote home about the dreadful news.

He confessed in a letter: “I never felt more down in my life than when I heard Willie was gone.”

Another pal, Stafford, had broken the news to Sam, saying: “We shall all miss him, Will was a good chum. Whenever we wanted to have a game at football, or to do anything, he was always there. It was just before action that we were talking of our old school days in England , the pranks and mischief we used to be up to, the games we played. Our thoughts were in England, so to speak. What a strange thing, enjoying talk of our old friends and old games. How we enjoy that happy half-hour talking of different things. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun shone glorious. And yet it was the last time I saw poor Will. We shook hands and parted, wished each other luck, and hoped we should meet again. Then we went to our duty.”

Will was buried in a soldiers’ cemetery behind the firing line, his grave marked by a wooden cross, painted white and bearing his name.