Biography of Private William Scotney (241637)
2nd/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)
Died 20 November 1917


  • Name: William Scotney
  • Date of birth: 1892
  • Place of Birth: Morton, Lincolnshire, England
  • Date of Birth Registration: January – March 1892
  • Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England


  • Name: George Scotney
  • DOB: 1849
  • Place of Birth: Morton, Lincolnshire, England
  • Occupation: Farmer


  • Name: Ellen Richards
  • DOB: 1848
  • Place Of Birth: Balderton, Nottinghamshire, England
  • Marriage: 1867 Newark District

Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)

  • Elizabeth Scotney, 1870, Morton
  • Sarah Scotney, 1871, Morton
  • Edward Scotney, 1873, Morton
  • Thomas Scotney, 1875, Morton
  • Mary Ellen Scotney, 1877, Morton
  • John George Scotney, 1879, Morton
  • Henry Scotney, 1880, Morton
  • James Scotney, 1882, Morton
  • Samuel Scotney, 1884, Morton
  • Ruth Scotney, 1886, Morton
  • Ann Scotney, 1888, Morton
  • Mary Scotney, 1890, Morton
  • William Scotney, 1892, Morton


  • 1901: William is living with his parents in Haconby Fen, Lincolnshire.
  • 1911: William is living with his father and step mother in Haconby Fen, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 19 and he is listed as a farmer son, working on farm.
Relatives in services

  • None found


  • No marriage for William has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.

Newspaper Mentions

  • War Weekly Casualty List January 15th 1918
    PART VI.
    Scotney 241637 W. (Bourne)

Military Records

Attestation Papers

  • None found

Soldier’s Died In The Great War

  • These records show that Private William Scotney, 241637, 2nd/5th Bn Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment was killed in action on 20th November 1917 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.

Pension Records

  • None found

Effects Left To

  • Father George


  • The British Medal
  • The Victory Medal


  • UK:
  • Haconby, Roll of Honour in St Andrew’s Church


© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

Military Service Timeline – Published Biography

  • William was born in Morton near Bourne in 1892 the son of George and Ellen Scotney. George Scotney, a farmer, was born in Morton in 1849 and married Ellen Richards in 1867. Ellen was born in 1848 in Balderton near Newark. They would go on to have 13 children:-
    Elizabeth Scotney, 1870, Morton
    Sarah Scotney, 1871, Morton
    Edward Scotney, 1873, Morton
    Thomas Scotney, 1875, Morton
    Mary Ellen Scotney, 1877, Morton
    John George Scotney, 1879, Morton
    Henry Scotney, 1880, Morton
    James Scotney, 1882, Morton
    Samuel Scotney, 1884, Morton
    Ruth Scotney, 1886, Morton
    Ann Scotney, 1888, Morton
    Mary Scotney, 1890, Morton
    William Scotney, 1892, Morton
    We can look at William’s early life through the census returns. William born in 1892 is first found on the 1901 census of Haconby living with his parents and siblings in Haconby Fen. George Scotney is a farmer, working from home on his own account. Ellen is looking after the house and is aided by elder daughter Sarah (29) who is listed as a Mother’s Helper. Looking at the census sons Edward (27) and Thomas (26) are both working as farm labourers, James (19) is working as a Horseman and Samuel (17) a yardman, no doubt on their father’s farm. William can be found as a nine year old and also in the household is Grandson Daniel aged 7 who is the son of Sarah Scotney.
    On the 1911 census ten years later we learn that the house in which they live has 7 rooms and that George Scotney is an employer. but also the biggest revelation is that George’s wife is now listed as Mary Ann.
    Ellen having passed away in 1909, George remarried between October and December 1910 to Mary Ann Steel. Earlier in 1910 (between April and June) George and Ellen’s Daughter, Ruth, had married Fred Steel.
    When we look at the family tree we see that Fred Steel, born Laughton, married Ruth and then later that year his Mother Mary Ann, born in Wellingore, married George Scotney thus becoming Ruth and William’s step mother as well as Ruth’s Mother-in-law.
    On the 1911 census return we see that George is the head of the household and still listed as a farmer in Haconby. George and Mary Ann have been married for less than one year and share their house with son William (19), a farmer’s Son and grandson Daniel (17), a Waggoner on the farm. Fred Steel (27) and wife Ruth (25) are also in the house, Fred also working as a Waggoner on the farm. They appear to have two children, Fred Cook Steel (10) and John George Steel (3 months).
    This is the last we will see of William Scotney prior to the war in any official British records although we have an intriguing entry into Canada via the US port in New York State. On the 29th may 1915 a William Scotney aged 23 of Hacconby Fen went through US immigration to leave the US at the Port of Malone, New York State. He was not applying for Canadian Citizenship and gave an address in Kamloops, British Columbia, for his nearest relative a cousin John F Carman or Barman or Basman, the writing is not clear enough to work this out.
    William’s full service records were most likely destroyed in the warehouse fire in the Blitz and so it is difficult to trace his war story. We can calculate from the War Gratuity Payment made to George Scotney, on behalf of his son’s sacrifice, that William most likely enlisted in the Army in the month following the 21st February 1916.
    In January 1916 the Military Services Act was passed that would come into force in May meaning that had he not enlisted in Bourne in February / March of 1916 then William would have been eligible for conscription in May.
    William was posted to the 5th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment and served with the 2nd/5th battalion. Without records it is difficult to know when he was posted abroad or even when posted to the 2nd/5th and so all we can say is that when he died of wounds on the 20th November 1917 he was serving with the Battalion.
    The 2/5th Battalion had been training in Bedford at the end of 1916 and in January 1917 were mobilised as part of the 186th Brigade of the 62nd Division. They embarked in Southampton on the SS Queen Alexandra on the 11th January 1917.
    We look at the Battalion Diary for November 1917 to find out about William’s last movements. For the whole of November the Battalion had been at Gouy (between Cambrai and St Quentin, France) and then Achiet le Peteite, and Lechelle where they had been practicing for a planned action.
    19th November 1917 – Bertincourt
    Battalion resting previous to the attack.
    20th November 1917 – Bertincourt
    5.10am – Battalion marched to the assembly position for the attack at Place Mort Homme, Haurincourt
    9.15am – Battalion moved forward to form up, marched in column toward Haurincourt and on approaching Chateau Wood came under machine gun and rifle fire. At this point the commanding officer Lieut Col T.D. Best D.S.O & Lieut Bodker were killed & Lieut’s J.A. Haigh and W.L. Thomas wounded & 26 casualties to other ranks sustained. Capt and Adjutant H.S. Jackson took command of the Battalion at this point and handed over to Capt F Sykes on reaching the Brown Line. The enemy opposition consisted of snipers and a strong point. This was attacked, by D Company under Capt. T Goodall. 10 officers and 58 other ranks & 2 machine guns captured & a corps intelligence officer & a NCO rescued. The Battalion then reorganised and continued the advance in lines of sections to take up its positions on the forming up line. On approaching this line the Battalion came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from K.4.D.1.5. A Platoon was sent forward under Lieut Black to deal with it and on approaching found a tank ditched near the strong point & being bombed furiously by the enemy. Capt Moxon (who had gone forward with the tank) the tank commander and crew were defending the tank from the outside. The platoon worked around the post & rushed it killing 5 and capturing 3, the remainder of the garrison ran away towards Graincourt. They were caught under Lewis Gun fire at K.4.D.9.6. & heavy casualties inflicted. The Battalion was then reorganised on the forming up line & with tanks attacked the objective. Kangaroo Alley was captured and occupied by D Company. A strong point at Lock No 6 was captured by C Company & 2 officers and 64 other ranks taken prisoners, the remainder of the garrison would not leave the dugout so a bomb was thrown in and the dugout set on fire. A strong point at E.28.b.1.1. was also captured by Lieut Black’s platoon, 2 officers, 59 other ranks & 2 machine guns being captured. A, B & C cCompanies then leaped frogged through D & continued the advance across the Bapaume-Cambrai Road until the final objective for the day was captured. A Platoon under Lieut Greaves captured a strong point and took 2 machine guns, 2 officers & 12 other ranks prisoners. The position was consolidated and held with B on the right flank with a defensive flank down the Hindenburg Support Line. A Company in the centre & C Company on the left in touch with the 36th Division on the canal bank. D Company occupying Kangaroo Alley in support. Battalion H.Q in Kangaroo Alley. During the day the Battalion captured 353 prisoners, 15 machine guns & 1 trench mortar.
    Total number of casualties:
    Killed; Lt Col Best D.S.O, Lieut J.G. Bodker, Lieut J.A. Haigh
    Died of Wounds; Lieut W.L. Thomas Wounded;
    10 other ranks Killed;
    55 other ranks Wounded
    4 other ranks missing.
    William Scotney died of wounds on the 20th November 1917 in the action described in the Battalion Diary. The first day of the Battle of Cambrai was a success with tanks pushing through the German defences and over 7000 prisoners taken. The offence was halted due to bad weather and a lack of reinforcements with over half of the British Tanks not operational for day 2 and the German counter attack. All told the British losses at Cambrai would total 44,000 men including our own William Scotney.
    Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
    In memory of Private William Scotney, 241637, 2nd/5th Bn., Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) who died on 20 November 1917. Remembered with honour, Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, Panel 6 and 7.
    William Scotney is also remembered on the Haconby Roll of Honour is St Andrew’s Church as well as a page dedicated to his memory on our own web site


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