William was born in October 1884 to Francis and Emma Brenton. He was the uncle of Cyril Brenton who passed away two years ago in 2012. Cyril lived in and around Tregonetha all his life and was a much loved and respected friend, Churchwarden and Bell Captain of this Church for many years.

  • In the 1901 census William is living with his mother and father in Tregonetha along with his brothers John, Arthur, Ralph and Samuel. His father was a self-employed Blacksmith.
  • By 1911 the census shows William and his brother John living with his uncle and aunt the Chapmans on their farm Pawton Springs. William was assisting on the farm. The rest of William’s family were still living in Tregonetha with the exception of Arthur who is shown as a ‘servant’ carrying out general farm work on Mr James Rowe’s farm at Reterth.
  • William must have continued working on Pawton Springs farm, as a cattleman, as this detail appears on his enrolment papers when he enlists into the army on the 1st July 1916.
  • William is enlisted into the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), one of the three arms of the overall Royal Regiment of Artillery, the other two arms being the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery. The Royal Garrison Artillery was developed from the fortress-based artillery located on the British coasts and  were responsible for much larger pieces of ordnance than the usual smaller field guns.
  • William had special training and obtained a first class in signalling and telephony in December 1916.
  • On the 3rd June 1917 William was finally posted to France and joined the 204th Siege Battery of the RGA on the 13th June. Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy howitzers sending large calibre, high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6, 8 and 9.2 inch (diameter of shell) howitzers as opposed to the smaller, manoeuvrable field guns of the Royal Field and Horse Artillery.
9.2 inch howitzers in action

The batteries were mostly employed in destroying or neutralising enemy artillery as well as putting destructive fire down on strong points, dumps, stores and railways behind enemy lines.

The Third Battle Ypres took place between July and November 1917 which included the infamous and bloody Battle of Passchendaele. All combatants had to endure deplorable conditions and the thick, glutinous mud was as much an enemy as the opposing troops.

Battle of Passchendaele
Mud, nothing but mud

It was during this period that William was severely wounded. He was taken to the 12th Australian Field Ambulance where he died on the 24th October. He is buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery just East of Ypres.

Menin Road South Military Cemetery

Total casualties at Passchendaele are estimated at 475,000 although this figure is disputed.

Passchendaele – before and after the battle
Passchendaele – before and after the battle

William Francis Brenton (Frank)

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