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William O'Marr

Date of birth: 1893
Date of death: 22.10.1917
Area: South Elmsall
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
Rank: Gunner
Service number: 27629

War Service

William enlisted at Wakefield in May 1915, eight months after his older brother, Lawrence. Originally with the 175th (Staffordshire) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, William completed his training as a gunner and was sent to France on 1st January 1916.
At Southampton, William wrote his will, leaving everything to his mother. Soon after, he was transferred to the 160th Wearside Brigade and took part in the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916.
In 1917, William, now 23, fought in Belgium at the Battle of Passchendaele. At this time, William was fighting just a few miles apart from his brother, Lawrence.
William and his Brigade took part in a pre-planned attack of the enemy lines on the night of 22 October 1917. His Battery was heavily shelled with one gun being hit directly. This shell killed William and three other men. A letter from his friend, Driver Leonard Neesam of South Elmsall, was sent to William’s mother.
“23 October 1917
Dear Mrs O’Marr,
I am very sorry to have to write to let you know that your son Mick was killed yesterday. I know it is awful news but still you should know that he and a lad called Bob Brampton were killed together.
It is quite strange that Mick and that lad would be killed. He sent his money down to his Battery the night before and he said with his own lips that he was doomed to be killed where he was.
He was one of the bravest lads that ever put a foot on a battlefield. He stood what thousands could not have done and he had always a smile when in danger.
Well, I must close as I am downhearted. There was only Mick and me left out of the dear old Elmsall boys with us.
You have my sympathy and may God bless him,
Yours truly,
Driver Leonard Neesam”
William is buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery, just outside of Ypres, Belgium.

Family Life

Born as William Marr on 7 December 1893 in Denaby Main, Yorkshire, William was the fourth of eight children born to Edward O’Marr, a Catholic, and his wife, Eliza Williams, a Protestant.
The 1901 Census shows that the family lived in Denaby under the alias “Jackson”. William’s father would continue to use “Jackson” until 1918.
William was born into a coal mining family and moved from Denaby to Barnsley in 1903, most likely due to the Bag Muck Strike and the evictions which took place at this time.
Three years later, William’s father, Edward, deserted the family. The Barnsley Borough Court records show that Edward was later ordered to pay 13 shillings per week for the upkeep of his wife and children.
William, known as ‘Mick’, aged 12, appears in these records as ‘Michael’ which was probably his Confirmation name.
William likely stayed in Barnsley until about 1910. By this time, both William and his older brother Lawrence were of working age and later found work at Frickley Colliery as pony drivers.
The 1911 Census shows William was living as “William Marr” at 104 Clifford Street in South Elmsall with his mother and his siblings, Lawrence, Mary and Annie Elizabeth. His father was living at 76 Burton Street in Moorthorpe as “Edward Jackson” with William’s half brother, John (born in 1909).
By 1914, the family had moved to 215 Dearne Street, previously the home of his married sister, Ellen, and her husband, Charles Cawthorne.

Research provided by the O’Marr family.

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