7th July 1894 - 17th September 1916 (age 22)
21st Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps
The following item appeared in the Yorkshire Gazette on 22nd July 1916:
Thirsk Man at the Front
Rifleman W.T.Seavers of Sowerby, Thirsk, writing from France to his former employer Mr Wm. Clayton, Thirsk, gives some interesting particulars of life at the front. Rifleman Seavers is in the same regiment as a number of Thirsk lads. He says "We are right up in the front line, so we get plenty of excitement, mostly on a night. I have been out in no man's land a few times, so am getting used to it. I was on a listening post last night, laid down in a shell hole over by the parapet of course. I kept hold of a bomb all the time, and if a jerry had appeared, he would have thought his birthday had come.
The first time I went over I was nervous. We had to work in pairs so Allen Lee (another Thirskite) and I were together. He had a shovel and I had a pick. We set to work to dig ourselves in, when all of a sudden the gas alarm went. Talk about a double shuffle. We came back like greased lightning, like rabbits scuttling for their bolt holes. We have had a few good laughs over it since. The lot who came out at the beginning of the war must have had a cruel time. So we have a lot to be satisfied with.
Mr. Lynch (the headmaster of the National School who organised a collection for cigarettes etc for the Thirsk boys at the front) has sent us 2,000 cigarettes for the Thirsk boys here. Our share runs out at over 100 each chap, and with what we have got from one place and another, we could just about set up a tobacconist's shop.
I have quite enjoyed this period in the front line as we get plenty of shooting at the German trenches. Our captain caught me peeping over the top one night so he told he to stand straight up as I might as well be shot through the shoulder as in the head, if they had the luck to hit me. It was right too. It is very rarely anyone gets hit that way unless he's fool enough to get up in the day time. I can walk about quite normal as I am small of stature. Some of the lads have to bend right over. It is laughable to see them and I bet they get backache.
We had a bombardment the night the Crossley brothers were killed (the brothers Crossley were the twin sons of Mr and Mrs Wm. Crossley of St. James-Green, Thirsk and. As already reported in our columns, were killed by the same shell), and I can tell you it was hellish while it was on. The Crossleys were only a few yards off us so we got a bit of a shock, and it is a wonder no more were knocked out. They were two very quiet and sociable lads, well to get on with, and we were very sorry to lose them. They used to say they were born together, and would die together, and it has come true.
William Seavers was one of five children of Thomas Seavers, shopkeeper of Thirsk, Market Place, and his wife Georgiana. The family later moved to Victoria Avenue, Sowerby where Thomas was a tea dealer on his own account while his son William became a watch maker.
William was another of the Thirsk and Sowerby lads to join the Yeoman Rifles and to go over to France in early 1916. In his letter home, he refers to the night of 30th June when in reserve billets, the battalion came under heavy fire and the Crossley twins were killed, hit by the same shell. Leonard and William Crossley of St. James Green, Thirsk lie side by side in Berkshire Cemetery Extension at Ploegsteert in Belgium.
William Seavers was killed in action less than 2 months after sending the above letter home. Allen Lee's letter to his father on 19th September says:
No doubt you will have heard of the Thirsk casualties - poor Bill Seavers.
At the Thirsk Primitive Church service in October, previously reported, there was the following inclusion:
Willie Seavers was a member of the choir, and all choir lads attended.
William Seavers had been killed in the same battle as Harry Kendrew but he has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial pier and face 13A & 13B.
For the same reasons as explained for Harry Kendrew, it is most likely that William Seavers was killed during the battalion's action on 15th September and not the 17th as recorded in all sources.
The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.
about William Thomas Seavers on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Information about William Thomas Seavers on the War Graves Photographic Project website
Part of the St Oswald's Church website