The Poole teenager who fought in two world wars but was sunk by the Luftwaffe

DISTINCTION: Lester Brown with some of his grandad’s memorabilia

DISTINCTION: Lester Brown with some of his grandad’s memorabilia

First published in News by

WILLIAM Wellman from Poole served his country with distinction in the First World War – and died early in the Second World War.

He was born on June 2 1897 and at the outbreak of the Great War lied about his age.

He told local recruiting officers he was 18, when in fact he was just 17. On June 14, 1914, William Wellman joined the 3rd Battalion, the Dorsetshire Regiment.

He stayed with the battalion until war was declared in August and then transferred to the newly formed 5th Battalion.

After training for several months they were sent to Gallipoli in 1915. Pte 9786 Wellman was injured in December that year and returned home.

The following month, he returned to the Dorsets in France with the 1st Battalion.

He served on the Somme at the same time as three of his uncles – they were pictured together near the front in June of 1916, right. They all survived the conflict but William was wounded again on the second day of the Somme.

After the war, William stayed in the forces until 1921 (receiving new army number 5718257 in 1919) and also seeing service in Ulster with the 1st Dorsets.

He came out seven years and one day after enlisting.

William worked in the 20s and 30s for the municipality of Poole and as the storms clouds of war gathered again in 1938 he and his best mate Roger Condon joined the reservists.

In the Royal Army Medical Corps he was sent to North Africa but died after the troop ship he was sailing home on leave on, was sunk off Ireland by the Luftwaffe in October 1940.

A telegram to the family on behalf of the War Office read: “Wellman 13 Fernside Avenue, Parkstone, regret to inform you report received number 5718257 Pte WEC Wellman killed by enemy action on board Empress of Britain. Stop. Body disembarked at Gourack.”

His body was brought home at the insistence of his widow Rose Amelia Wellman, and buried in Poole cemetery.

William Wellman’s grandson, Lester Brown is the custodian of his grandfather’s military possessions.

He said: “We are all very proud of him and what he did.”

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