Born in 1892 and brought up in Hornchurch, William was recruited underage into the Royal Fusiliers in 1908. He had begun serving with the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers on the western front in 1914.
Few soldiers serving in the British Expeditionary Force in November 1918 had been present at the battle of Mons in 1914. Among them was Private William Holbrook of the 4th Royal Fusiliers.
After about a week they sent round to say that any man that had fought at Mons would be taken into Mons and given a luncheon. They found about 10 of us! We were taken to the town hall for lunch. We’d had nothing like that for four or five years: all the silver was on the table, coffee cups, things I’d never had before. The old mayor made a speech, thanking us for what we’d done! He said: “The coffee you’re drinking has been buried for 4½ years, buried on the first day the Germans were here in Mons and it’s just been taken up! You’re the first people to have real coffee for four and a half years in this country!”
You can read more articles on the First World War at BBC History Magazine’s website: historyextra.com
TV AND RADIO
The BBC is marking the armistice centenary across TV and radio. You can find regular updates at historyextra.com