William was born in Bishopsteignton in 1887 and lived in Radway Hill. His parents were Robert James Back, a farm labourer and Eliza Back (née Yeoman).
In the 1911 census William was living in Radway Hill, not far from Arthur Apps who was also killed in World War I. At the time of this census he was 23 years old and working as a farm labourer. He was one of ten children, two of whom had died by 1911. William was the only sibling living at home at this time.
On 21 January 1916, aged 29 years, William enlisted as a private in the 42nd Battalion of the Australian Infantry interestingly, unlike many who joined the Devonshire Regiment. This might indicate a connection on his part, with Australia? His Service Number was 1799.
Death and Burial
He died 16 months later on 6th June 1917 in France and was buried in Pont-de-Nieppe Communal Cemetery.
The British graves are at the south- east end of the cemetery. Location II D 4 with the following inscription
Son of Robert James and Eliza Back. Native of Bishopsteignton, Devon.
“GOD BE WITH YOU TILL WE MEET AGAIN”
This inscription was registered/chosen in November 1921 by a Mrs F Martin of Puner Cottage, Bishopsteignton, Devon, presumably after the death of his parents.
His commemoration certificate and picture of the cemetery can be found here.
Are you a member of the Back family with a connection to William Ernest? If so we would love to hear from you.