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Part 2
By Mark Purchase (PhD. L/cp RNZI 3rd Auck Nth Bn. N78340)

The Life and Times of a Survivor

in the Great War.

Pte William Purchase S4 144085 (ASC) 44877 (KRRC)

30/1/1887 - 12/3/1974
Englishman - New Zealander (1)


William Kenneth Purchase was born in England, the son of a Locksmith. Birthplace was the Parish of Willenhall, Staffordshire in 1887. He married Gertrude Tysoe (1886-1970) on 6th August 1912 at Wesleyan Chapel Rusholme, Manchester. Little is known of the ancestry of William but on his wife’s side -

Charles Tysoe (1798-?) married Anne Elizabeth Brotherton (1789-?) Daughter of Sir Joseph Brotherton & Anne McDonald of clan McDonald.

Charles Brotherton Tysoe (1825-1898) married Anne Elizabeth Walmsley (1828-1873)on 3/10/1840 At St Marks Church Kennington Surrey. She was the daughter of the House of Walmsley, Yorkshire.

Alfred Edward Tysoe (1850)
Ada Tysoe (1853)
Frederick Brotherton Tysoe (1854-1898)
Florence Tysoe (1857)
Frank Walmsley Tysoe (1857)
Harriette Gertrude Tysoe (1858)
Anne Maude Tysoe (1859-1860)
Edith Tysoe (1860)
Ernest Tysoe (1862)

Charles Tysoe (1852) married
Lucy Hufton (1854-1917)

Charles Arthur Tysoe (1885-195?)
Frederick Tysoe (1890-1891)
Gerald Tysoe (1890-195?)
Douglas Tysoe (1890-1960) (25 yrs old gassed at Battle of Loos, evacuated to England - hospitalized for life).
Annie Maude Tysoe (1892-1972)
Wilfred Tysoe (1893-1917)
Leonard Tysoe (1894-1965)
Reginald Tysoe (1898-1899)
Harold Tysoe (1898-1902)
Stanley Brotherton Tysoe (1899-19?)
Eric Tysoe (1900-19?)
Mabel Tysoe (1901-?)
Doris Tysoe (1902-?)

William Kenneth Purchase married Gertrude Tysoe(1886-1970) on 9/8/1913 at Wesleyan Chapel Rusholme, Manchester. Their children -

William Purchase (1915-1915)
Olive Purchase (1915-1915)
Irene Gertrude Purchase (1918-still alive)
Muriel Purchase (1921- 26/6/1995)
Eric Purchase (1923-21/11/1994)
Stanley William(Bill) (1925-11/9/1999)
Phylis Purchase (1927 still alive)
Ken Purchase (1929-1997) (my father)

William and Gertrude had three sons and three daughters surviving. William was a Baker, 'pastry cook' by trade before and after the Great War. He survived a war that was totally awful by today's standards and so deserves recognition. In those days no one could obtain a Lance Corporal's stripe without a "3rd class education certificate" so he never received a commission. He was said to be wounded twice. The first was a non-serious wound (no recorded date or place) but the second almost killed him.

He regarded WW1 as 'a war caused by politicians who never saw action or the ravages of trench conditions'. And said there was 'no glory in it at all, but shear madness'. He spoke of young soldiers swapping rations, cigarettes and singing carols. As a young child I recall visiting his home in Pt Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand where he retired. He and his wife were always kind. He said, (I've never forgotten) "You can lead men, but you can't push them". Clearly a lesson of 1917 when soldiers at the front were tired of futile sacrifice and their officers. Those were awful days to live through, so I set-out to find out more about his war experience (2)


While the Military Cross was only awarded to officers or Warrant Officers, the Military Medal (MM) was for other ranks. The MM should be listed in the London Gazette although WW1 soldiers don't have citations for MM's. Of the search done regarding medals, no mention was found in the index cards of some awards. But cards are not complete. Historians say these details and cards "may lack 5-10%, nobody really knows for sure". Also nothing found in the Dispatches.

It is also not shown on the Campaign Medal index card. Again most are, but a few are missing. The London Gazette still requires a good search. The Silver War Badge was not only awarded to those wounded in battle, but also to "men honorably discharged from service."

Medal Card

The qualifying date of the 1914-1915 Star is 18/12/15. The card is incomplete, all soldiers were awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The qualifying date for the Star is only two months after enlisting 25th Oct. 1915.

The mention of "15" next to the star indicates this medal was awarded with qualifications different from the other Star. The "15" Star was "authorized in 1918 (it was awarded to those individuals who saw service in France and Flanders from 23 Nov 1914 to 31 Dec 1915, and to those individuals who saw service in any other operational theatre from 5 Aug 1914 to 31 Dec 1915." This places him in the theater of combat on 18th Dec. 1915 in order to qualify. The asterisk seems to indicate medals awarded relating to the Army Service Corps (ASC).

The regimental number 44877 applies to the KRRC. And the number S4/144083 would become temporary. The "S" could stand for Service or Supply Corp. If the number was MT/144083 it would mean a 'Motorized Transport' battalion. If HT/144083 it would be a "Horse Transport" battalion.

William was a 'baker' by trade so this is probably why he was serving in the ASC. The Army Form indicates his unit was one of "Supply". But as the demand for combat soldiers rose steadily, this is probably why he was transferred to the 1/KRRC on or about the 20th August 1916.

The service battalions are the unsung heroes of the British Army in the Great War. The men who operated the transport, fed, bandaged and supplied the soldiers. Troops can't fight without food, equipment and ammunition. The ASC performed prodigious feats of logistics and part of the great organization by which the war was won. They were organized into companies each specializing as one of various reserves, depots etc. By Royal Warrant, the Army Service Corps added Royal to it's title in late 1918.


William's home address was "122 Heald Grove Manchester". He also gave his address as 173 Higher Rd Urmston, Manchester. He enlisted aged 28 and 9 months, on 25th Oct 1915 in Manchester. Appearance - 5ft 2½ in., complexion 'fresh', eyes 'blue', hair 'dark brown'.

He originally joined the Army Service Corps (ASC). Before this he had not served in 'any branch of his Majesty's Service' and so took the oath to King George the Fifth before an officer of the KRRC on the 25th Oct 1915. When signing up he was "willing to be enlisted for General Service" and for "the duration of the War". But the 'Descriptive report on Enlistment" form records that he was originally in the "service forwards limited engagement" And this "reckons from 25.10.15".

The ASC were nicknamed "ALLY SLOPER'S CAVALRY". Because of their good pay, comfortable conditions and comparative safety frontline troops didn't regard them as proper soldiers. They had sarcastic nicknames as the "Army Safety Corps" and "Aunt Sally's Cavalry". When the ASC acquired "their well-earned Royal prefix" in 1918, to become the RASC, their nickname was changed to "Run Away, Someone's Coming!" William proved that untrue when transferred to the 1/KRRC (3)

When he returned to England wounded (in 1918) he came under the authority of the 5/KRRC. Explained in foot note (4). Because the qualifying date of the 1914-1915 Star is 18/12/15 this is "the official date upon which the subject (William Purchase) landed abroad". And it was with the ASC. At peak, the ASC numbered an incredible 10,547 officers and 315,334 men. In addition were tens of thousands of Indian, Egyptian, Chinese and other native laborers, carriers and stores men, under orders of the ASC. Yet this vast, sprawling organization merits just four mentions in the Official History of the war. Research into those in the ASC can be difficult and unrewarding. These corps were large conglomerate elements of the army so research is often uninformative.

Continued - Part 2
See also 1914-16


(1) My apologies to his family for calling him an 'New Zealander', given the state of our country today. In our day, with homosexual marriage (something anti-human) he would be ashamed and embarrassed to be called an New Zealander.

(2) When this study first went on the internet I was astonished at the numbers who read it. So I started to ask questions - were my facts correct? Was there proof? What really happened? What if....? Well, new information made corrections necessary and likely more will follow. So this revised edition is a more critical approach. Any reconstruction must be based on facts and stand questioning. There was always a small chance of finding official records, as many were destroyed in WW2, so it's not an easy task to find out details.

I'm grateful for the help of Phyl Purchase, Lorraine & the late Ken Purchase. Information from Colin and Russell Purchase, encouragement from Bryan Purchase, advice from Rebecca Purchase. And helpful advisers Irv Mortenson in Washington (expert and authority on the King's Royal Rifles Corps and Roger E Nixon in London ( Military Historian and Researcher).

(3) The "Statement of the Services" under the "Descriptive Report On Enlistment" indicate the 1/KRRC. The vast majority of the regiments effort was devoted to the western front, where it gained 8 VC’s, 2128 other decorations. In the Great War 57% of the KRRC were killed and 60 Officers. ""The 1st and 2nd battalions fought in Belgium all through the war. 14 Battalions fought at the Somme, 1916, sustaining 4,200 casualties all ranks". A foot soldier was paid 1 shilling per day.

(4) Phyl Purchase mentioned William was "transferred". Indeed, from the ASC to the 1/KRRC. The "Certificate of Identity, Protection Cert." mentions the 5/KRR. That was not the 'transfer'. Absent from the front all soldiers remain under military authority. If their battalion was under orders and they were absent it can be a serious offence So during hospitalization in 1918 William was assigned to the 5/KRR. A home battalion stationed in the UK. The "5th and 6th (Reserve) Battalions in August 1914 were in Winchester [and] remained in UK throughout the war". Eg., Rifleman H. Trevetic, (1st KRR) after combat in France also returned home wounded and was assigned to the "5th Battalion K.R.R.C. at Fort Grain, Isle of Grain, Kent". Hopefully after regaining health, one would rejoin their original battalion (at the front).

Medical Discharge Cert. 14 Dec 1918 [partly restored]                    Discharge Cert. War Office 15th Dec 1918

   Enlistment & Service (faded).                                        Attestation and oath  25 Oct 1915