HURST, William Sylvanus

No.8575, Private, William Sylvanus HURST
Aged 20

1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 24th August 1914

An Old Contemptible

William Sylvanus Hurst was born in Wickhambrook (Risbridge Q2-1894 4A:690), baptised in Wickhambrook on 19th July 1896 (birth year given as 1896, father not named) son of Emma HURST.

1901 census...Aged 6, Willie Hurst was at Coltsfoot Green, Wickhambrook with his uncle George MURKING [41] farm labourer; aunt Rosanne MURKING [40] and cousins Jessie [12], Arthur [7] and Stanley [2]. All were born in Wickhambrook.

1911 census...Aged 17 (recorded as nephew), a labourer in the cement works, he was at The Leys, Burwell with his mother Emma HURST [40] born Wickhambrook, and a sister? Dorothy R [7 months] born in Burwell.. His mother's entry has "single" crossed out and an ineligible word written in which does not appear to be married ?

His cousin, Stanley MURKIN, was killed in 1918 in Belgium see here

He enlisted in Ely.
F Loraine Petre OBE "History of the Norfolk Regiment" tells us:- The 1st Norfolks were in Belfast at the outbreak of the war, mobilization was complete by the 190th and they were embarked on 14th, landing at Le Havre on the 16th. They entrained for the front on the 17th arriving at Le Cateau on 18th, then on to Dour then Bois du Bossu along the Mons-Condé canal.
At 04:30 on August 24th they were relieved by the 1st Suffolks and marched southwards to Dour in Divisional Reserve. Then the 13th and 14th Brigade began their retreat, threatened by large German forces coming from the north and the 1st Norfolks and 1st Cheshires, with some cavalry support were ordered to form a defensive left flank, eventually facing west, just to the west of Elouges (17 km south west of Mons). They managed to delay the Germans but that was all, they were eventually forced to withdraw but not before a platoon of Norfolks, together with some of the Cheshire had been surrounded and on finishing their ammunition, surrendering.
About 260 were killed, wounded or missing. 100 of the wounded had to be left at Elouges. CWGC records show the 1st Norfolk lost 54 men killed on this, their first day in action.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

William Hurst is buried in Elouges Communal Cemetery, Special Memorial C:7
(Special memorials are where the men had been identified but their original graves have been lost on subsequent actions.)

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details