REA William T
Regiment : 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment
Service number : 39590
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : 14th September 1917 aged 35
Buried : Bethune Town Cemetery, France, Grave VI. G. 53.
Relatives : Son of F. and A. Rea, of Kempsey, Worcestershire; husband of F. E. Rea, of 87, St. Dunstan's Crescent, Worcester
Memorial : Worcester Cathedral Cloister Windows Vol Choir
Also appears on : Worcester Guildhall. Worcester St Peter's in St Martin's Church. Kempsey St Mary's Church.
His brothers, Ernest and George also fell.
The birth of William John Rea is registered in the March Quarter 1883 under the Upton Registration District.
The same photograph of Private W. Rea can be found in Berrow’s Worcester Journal Supplement, Saturday 12th May 1917 and Saturday 6th October 1917, available at Worcestershire Archives.
The following information has been researched by Dave Pugh:
All four Rea brothers volunteered to serve in The Great War: Ernest, George, William and Albert (Harry). They had all worked together at Hill, Evans & Co vinegar works, in Worcester. In April 1917 Ernest was shot in the head in an attack on Gillimont Farm in Flanders – he was 20 years old. His body was never recovered. Five months later, on 1st September; 33-year-old George died of wounds he had received in battle fighting near Ypres. Just 13 days later older brother William died of the wounds he had received fighting just a few miles away. In a few months the Rea family had lost 3 of their four sons. Their sister, Beatrice Rea, aged 22, wrote to the British Army asking for their help in saving the family from further loss. Could they please bring brother Albert home from the front? Albert returned to Britain and spent the rest of the war serving on the naval signal stations in the Solent. He went on to have a son with his wife Sarah and died, aged 78 in 1967 in Malvern. Father Frank lived to be 101.
When the roof of St Mary’s Church bell tower was repaired a few years ago, where the Rea family had all been bell-ringers, there were 5 names found scratched into the lead – they were those of William, George, Ernest and Albert Rea and their father Francis. They are still there today, preserved on the new roof.