William Nicholas Bryant was born in 1880 in Filleigh, near South Molton. His father was Wiliam Bryant who had married Bessie Carter there about 1871. William was an agricultural labourer and a wood feller. They had five children including William Nicholas, who became a farm cattle man. No doubt that William had to move near to Winkleigh to find work, where he married Bessie Harris about 1906 and settled in Coldridge where they had their first child Doris about 1908. Not long afterwards, the family moved to Winkleigh and lived in one of the cottages at Lower Bransgrove Farm where William continued as a farm labourer. Also there was Bessie’s grandmother. Their second child Gladys was most probably born there about 1914.
William was 31 in 1914, and it is more than likely that he waited until conscription was introduced in 1916 before having to enlist. There is no record of his having served in the Territorials before the war, and had he volunteered he would probably not have chosen the Somerset Light Infantry. Two Winkleigh men, George Cole and Herbert Lugg, had been transferred from their Territorial battalion of the Devons to the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, but their medal cards record the new army number each was given at the time. Their names are on the Roll of Honour, and details of their service and deaths in the SLI 1st Battalion can be read on this site. William’s medal card gives us no indication of a similar change of Regiment, nor indeed even whether he was home based or served in France, or in which battalion. It records only his regimental number and that he received the British War Medal, omitting even mention of the award of the Victory Medal which every serving soldier received.
None the less although we know at present so little of Williamís life or service history, it is good to know that he survived the war to return home to his wife and children.
13 July 2012