Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Private William Reginald King, 5th Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, was killed in action near St. Quentin in northern France.
His parents’ only child, he was thirteen years old when his father, a grocer’s manager, died at the age of thirty-seven. At the outbreak of the Great War, Private King joined his battalion, which was newly-formed at Oxford in response to Lord Kitchener’s call for 100,000 volunteers. They landed at Boulogne the following May, and saw action on the Somme in August of 1916.
Like many soldiers enduring the appalling conditions at length, Private King suffered from trench foot in January of 1917, and later that year suffered from the effects of having been gassed in the trenches. He was still considered fit enough to fight, for he was with his battalion when they were in a defensive position south-west of St. Quentin, which is where he was killed in action.
Private King is buried in the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery at Aisne in France. He is also named on the war memorial at St. Matthew’s Church in Grandpont, and there is a special marble memorial dedicated to him inside the church.
William, from Oxford, was 19 years old.