172007 Cpl. William Charles Beaven was born on January 18th, 1892, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, to Michael and Alice Beaven. William was the third child of seven (he had two older brothers: Alfred and Walter; two younger brothers: Lionel and Harry, and younger still, two sisters: Alice and Daisy).


The 1900 St. Martin's Church of England School register, his first school, had William's date of birth as January 18th, 1892; two years earlier than he subsequently stated when he signed on in 1915.


It appears that certainly at least William left for North America some time between 1901 and 1911, as he does appear in the 1901 UK Census, but not that of 1911.


By the time William attested into the 83rd (Queen's Own Rifles) Battalion, in Toronto, on July 16th, 1915, he was single, a labourer by trade and had accumulated militia military experience with the 12th (York) Regiment. He listed both parents (Michael and Alice) variously as his next of kin, still in residence in England.


William returned to England with the 83rd Battalion aboard the S.S. Olympic, boarding in Halifax on April 28th, 1916 and arriving in Liverpool on May 7th. On July 6th he was transferred to the 12th Battalion, and then on to the 4th CMR on July 28th, finally catching up with them in the field on on August 21st, 1916. The regiment was spending time out of the front line, in billets at North Steenvoorde at that time.


Serving with the 4th CMR in their post-June 2nd 1916 rebuild, William's service was without noted incident until December. On the 17th the regiment relieved the 2nd CMR in the front line trenches, in the vicinity of Écurie ( (2.5 miles, 4km) north of Arras. On the 18th, the day he was promoted to Corporal, William's celebrations were curtailed when he was buried by a shell explosion, which fractured his pelvis.


He spent the following 84 days in hospital recovering from that experience. He spent time at No.1 Canadian General Hospital, in Etaples, and then the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. He convalesced variously thereafter at the Canadian Convalescence Hospitals in Hillingdon, Uxbridge, and Epsom, Surrey, and Sandling, Kent, from March to August 1917.


In early August 1917 William was taken on strength with the 8th Reserve Battalion, before being transferred back to the 4th CMR whilst back in the Convalescence Hospital in Epsom. He eventually returned to the 4th CMR in the field on September 23rd, 1917, catching up again with the regiment during their time out of the front line in billets in Cambligneul (6 miles, 10km) north-west of Arras.


At the time of William's loss, on October 26th, 1917, the 4th CMR was engaged in the first day of the 15 day engagement known as the "Second Battle of Passchendaele". The same day that 4th CMR's Pte. Thomas Holmes won the V.C. for his actions in the opening of the battle for Passchendaele, William was killed.


Cpl. William Beaven is one of 12 men of the 4th CMR known to lie at rest in Tyne Cot Cemetery, near Zonnebeke (6 miles, 10km) north-east of Ieper. His name is listed on the St. Martin's Church Memorial, Salisbury, England.




Biography credit: Mike Kavanagh; headstone image courtesy of 4cmr.com