Rank:


Private

Service No(s):


513741

Regiment:


London Regiment

Unit:

1/14th (County of London) Battalion (London Scottish)

Returned:

No

Place of birth:

Finsbury Park

Occupation:

Insurance clerk

Date of death:

05/04/1917

Cause of death:

Killed in action

Grave or panel reference:

B.11

Name of father:

Edward Wheildon

Name of siblings:

Ella Rose, Dorothy Edith

Name(s) of children:

Died:

Yes

Date of birth:

01/10/1897

Place of enlistment:

Harringay

Event:

France and Flanders

Age at death:

19

Cemetery or memorial:

Achicourt Road Cemetery, Pas de Calais

Other memorial:

St Mellitus Church, St Mark's Church and London Scottish House, Westminster

Name of mother:

Louisa Ella Wheildon (née Bird)

Name of spouse:

Address:

32 Albert Road, Stroud Green

Biography:

Edward Douglas Wheildon was born on 1 October 1897, the youngest of three children of Edward and Louisa Ella Wheildon (née Bird). He was preceded by two sisters, Ella Rose, born in 1886, and Dorothy Edith, born in 1895. 

At the turn of the century the Wheildon family lived at 209 Isledon Road, a short walk from New Court Congregational Chapel. A decade later, the 1911 census places them at 14 Albert Road, just off Stroud Green Road. It lists Edward’s father as an insurance surveyor and his sister Ella Rose, as a lady clerk for a photographic printer. 

Ella Rose had married Percy Flory Newport early in 1904, and in the same year their daughter Ella Flory was born, making Edward an uncle at the age of seven. However, the 1911 census also details that Ella Rose had been widowed – Percy had died in 1909 at the age of 28.

Edward, at 13 years old, is listed as a scholar, and records show he attended Tollington Park College, in the same road as New Court. It would appear the Wheildons were financially comfortable, as the consecutive censuses show they were able to afford a domestic servant. 

On 11 December 1915, the Wheildon family celebrated Dorothy’s marriage to William ‘Len’ Andrews, with Edward himself signing the marriage certificate as one of the witnesses. He had just turned 18 and had found employment as an insurance clerk, following in his father’s footsteps. However, the very next day he signed an even more significant form: his Short Service Attestation papers. 

Two months earlier, the Derby Scheme had been introduced to recruit men between the ages of 18 and 40, who could either enlist voluntarily or attest that they would serve “for three years or the duration of the war, whichever is longer” if they were called up at a later date. Accepted for service, Edward remained part of the Army Reserve until the call-up came, which happened in May 1916.

Edward was assigned to the 14th Battalion, London Regiment, also known as the London Scottish. The reason why he joined this regiment is not clear – he doesn’t appear to have had a familial connection to Scotland, but his school magazine, The Tollingtonian, makes numerous references to alumni in the London Scottish, so perhaps that hints at a connection behind the assignment.

In 1916, Edward’s mother Louisa died, and she was buried only a week before he embarked on 29 September for Le Havre, where his battalion had been deployed. By the next spring, they had been put to work digging trenches north-east of Neuville-Vitasse in preparation for the Battle of Arras. 

In a few surviving letters that he exchanged with his young niece Ella, “Teddie” (as he refers to himself) describes the scene at the front as “pouring with rain and generally miserable with the sound of the guns all round​​” and summarises his near-misses while putting out barbed wire as “Some game, eh?” Ella and Edward both refer to a woman called Hilda, who may have been Edward’s girlfriend back home. Ella closed her last letter to him with “44 [kisses] all for you”.

Sadly Edward never received this final letter. He was killed in action at Arras on 5 April 1917 (Maundy Thursday) just a few days after the letter had been posted. It was returned, unopened and marked with the word “Deceased”. The family were also sent his remaining possessions: a disc (an identity tag), a pocket book, a number of photos and, poignantly, a broken metal watch.

Private Edward Douglas Wheildon is buried at Achicourt Road Cemetery, south of Arras. He has an entry in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and the inscription on his headstone as “An only son”. His name appears on memorial plaques at St Mellitus Church and London Scottish House, Westminster. 

  • Additional information taken from The Andrews Memoirs by Philip Andrews and research by Peter Lavallee. Many thanks to Philip Andrews, Peter Lavallee and Chetan Anand for their assistance.