DRIVER WILBY ILLINGWORTH
ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
14TH MAY 1918 AGE 42
BURIED: AIRE COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
Wilby Illingworth's unusual Christian name was his mother's maiden name - Elizabeth Conyer Wilby - the mother he never knew as she died the year he was born. He was brought up by his grandparents, Edmund and Hannah Illingworth, in Ossett, Yorkshire.
The War Graves Commission records his parents as James and Elizabeth Illingworth. The excellent Ossett WW1 history site has compiled biographies of all the men of Ossett who died in the war, including Illingworth. This site suggests that Wilby wasn't James Illingworth's son because James Illingworth died in 1872, four years before Wilby was born. However, the 1881 census records four-year-old Wilby living with his grandparents and their son, James Illingworth, a widower aged 33. I have a feeling it might have been another James Illingworth who died in 1872. Among the occupants of the 1881 household was another grandson, eleven-year-old William Henry Illingworth, Wilby's brother. This is the Wm. Henry named on Wilby's inscription.
Illingworth's medal index card shows his entitlement to the 1914 Star with clasp, the date of entitlement being 19 August 1914. This is scarcely two weeks after the outbreak of war so he must have been a reservist, mobilised on the outbreak. This explains the seventeen years service mentioned in the inscription. Although both the 1901 and 1911 censuses show him working in civilian jobs, in the intervening ten years he must have been a soldier who in 1914 was still on the reserve. Men who finished their regular army service spent five years on the reserve, being paid but having to undergo twelve days annual training a year. During this time he could be called up in the event of general mobilisation.
Illingworth served with the 119th Battery, 27th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery in France, Belgium and Italy. He died in a Casualty Clearing Station on 14 May 1918 after the Brigade had been in action in the Nieppe Forest. On 26 June, the Ossett Observer reported his death and published a letter the matron had written to his fiancee, Miss Edith Winpenny, to say that Illingworth had been brought in 'severely wounded and gassed' and had died peacefully.