MAY 16 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Redditch soldier William Prescott.
Little is known of Private Prescott, only that he served with the 11th Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment and was aged 52 when he died, and must have volunteered for action.
He lived in Redditch and was married to Jane, the couple having seven children, only three of whom survived to adulthood.
Pte Prescott was wounded then evacuated out of France to be cared for at Tisbury VAD Convalescent Hospital in Wiltshire where he died on May 16, 1916. He is now burried at the Plymouth Road Cemetery.
The hospital had been a vicarage and was opened in February 1915 by the Reverend CA Hutchinson for wounded soldiers.
Initially it could only accommodate 15 men but as the casualties rose, Trellis Cottage next to the Catholic Church was rented and equipped.
According to the British Army Medical Records the two establishments housed 49 men. Mrs Miller, of Tisbury, records that, when they closed on March 17, 1919 at least 1,310 British, Australian and Canadian patients, including Pte Prescott, had been treated.
It was staffed by 50 VADs (Voluntary Aids Detachment – a temporary combination of Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance for the duration of the war) plus three of four Registered Nurses with Mrs Shaw-Stewart of Fonthill acting as Matron.
Two of her daughters donned uniforms to do their bit and one, Mary, was awarded the Royal Red Cross, the highest decoration for VADs, for her contribution. Dr HA Barker gave his time free as medical officer for the four years it existed.
However William’s death was not the only war tragedy to his the Prescott family as one of his sons, Leonard, a Sergeant in the 5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action, aged 25, at Paschendaele on April 11, 1918.
Our thanks go to Remembering Redditch’s Fallen Heroes Project and ‘Fovan History’ for the photograph and information. Visit http://www.fovanthistory.org/hospital.html for more information .