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William James Sharland WW1

by Jess Gibby | People, World War One

12022 Private William James Sharland of the 10th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was the only son of James and Emma Elizabeth Sharland, of Fore St, Bishopsteignton. Born in Pembroke in the March Quarter of 1893 he was killed in action in Greece on 20 November 1916 aged 23 years. He was well known locally as a promising athlete and seemed to have been very well liked.

Early Life

12022 Private William James Sharland of the 10th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment was the only son of James and Emma Elizabeth Sharland, of Fore St, Bishopsteignton. He was born in Pembroke in the March Quarter of 1893.[1]

In 1901 the family were living at Post Office Street, Bishopsteignton and his father James was recorded as a Chief Petty Officer, Stores for the Royal Navy. James was born at Luton and his wife at Ideford.

By 1911 the census indicates that his father James, at 44, was a naval pensioner and William, at 18, a domestic gardener. Like so many of his compatriots he probably worked in the many large gardens of the big houses that existed in Bishopsteignton at that time.

Military Experience

William enlisted in the 10th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment which was sent to France but then diverted via Marseilles to Salonika in Greece where, according to the regiment records,  it states;

The 10th arrived in Salonika on 21st November 1915. In July 1916, after some months spent on garrison duties, the 10th Devons arrived in the front line near Doiran close to the Bulgarian position at Petit Couronne.  Here in August the Bulgarians attacked but were repulsed by A Company, whose rapid fire inflicted heavy casualties.  By the end of September nearly a third of the 10th had been admitted to hospital suffering from malaria or dysentery.  Nonetheless, the Battalion remained in these positions for several months, patrolling and occasionally skirmishing with their opponents.”[2]

There are extensive records kept at The Keep Museum in Dorset for any person who would like to find out more about what happened.[3]

Death and Burial

From the Teignmouth Post, 15 December 1916:

“We much regret to report the death of Private W. Sharland of Bishopsteignton who was killed while serving with the Devonshire Regiment on the Macedonian Front on November 20th. The deceased, who enlisted at the commencement of the war, saw service in France for a short period before being sent to the Eastern theatre of war. He is very well known locally, and, always of a cheery disposition, was a great favourite of all who knew him. He was a very promising athlete, and prior to proceeding on active service, won a magnificent silver cup at Bath in a race open to soldiers of the Command. He was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Sharland of Fore Street, Bishopsteignton and great sympathy is felt for them in the great loss they have sustained.”

He is buried at the Karasouli Military Cemetery, Polykastro, Kilkis, Macedonia, Greece.[4]

Plot B401, Memorial ID 56540006 and all the details  can be found here.[5]

Sharland headstone Bovey Tracey

Sharland family headstone in Bovey Tracey.

There is a family headstone in Bovey Tracey Cemetery that commemorates James, Emma and their son William. [6]

Do you have any photos or memorabilia relating to the Sharland family? Please do get in touch with us.

  1. “Four times a year all the registers for England & Wales were collated into a single countrywide index, arranged alphabetically by surname.

The indexes to the registers are quarterly rather than annual in scope – the four quarters being known as March, June, September and December. Each of these covers the month itself and the two preceding months, as follows:

•January, February, March registrations in the March quarter
•April, May, June registrations in the June quarter
•July, August, September registrations in the September quarter
•October, November, December registrations in the December quarter”





6.  Sharland family headstone in Bovey Tracey. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 24 October 2018), memorial page for Emma Elizabeth Sharland (unknown–7 Jan 1937), Find A Grave Memorial no. 184891217, citing Bovey Tracey Cemetery, Bovey Tracey, Teignbridge District, Devon, England ; Maintained by sprayerman (contributor 47073471) .