William James Singleton, Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusliers. Died, drowned at sea, aged 30, on 10 October 1918 whilst on board RMS Leinster.

The 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers was based in Limerick. He initially joined the 16th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers in October 1914 and then to the 2nd Battalion RWF were he was promoted to Sergeant and in January 1915 was further promoted to Company Sergeant Major. He was commissioned as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in November 1915 to the 20th Reserve Battalion RWF. He transferred to the 17th Battalion RWF and entered France on 26 June 1916. He was wounded at Mametz Wood on the 18 July 1916 and was then attached to the 3rd Battalion in Limerick as an Instructor. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant in July 1917.

He was probably going home to Holyhead on leave when RMS Leinster was torpedoed and sunk in the Irish Sea. It is possible that he was traveling home to attend the wedding of his sister, Lilian Margaret Singleton to George Herbert Williams, which took place 20 days after the sinking. There were 22 Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the Leinster. Sixteen of them were killed. Of the 489 military on board 326 were killed.

Lieutenant Singleton was born at Holyhead in 1888 and had been a teacher (Deputy Head) at Park School, Holyhead before the war. He was one of the founders of the local Boy Scout Movement and Scout Master, until 1913. He was also a Sunday School Teacher and a prominent member of the local orchestral society. As a member of St. Cybi's Church Choir, he had previously won a choir scholarship to New College, Oxford in 1899.

He was the son of James Henry Singleton and Margaret Jane Singleton (nee Griffiths). In 1911 he lived at 34 Newry Street, Holyhead with his parents and his sisters, Lilian Margaret (16) and Elizabeth Ada (13). His father (53) was a Retired Foreman Coppersmith and came from Liverpool. His mother (47) also originated from Liverpool. His employment was recorded in the Census as an Assistant Teacher, aged 23. Also at the house was his widowed maternal grandmother, Margaret Griffiths (71), born at Llandrygan, Anglesey. In 1891 the family had lived at 4 Park Street, Holyhead. His father died at Holyhead in October 1911, aged 53. His mother died in March 1920, aged 57, also at Holyhead.

He married Marion Evelyn Talbot, who originated from Kings Norton, Worcestershire, but who resided at Oakleigh, Walthew Avenue, Holyhead at St. Cybi's Church, Holyhead on 24 June 1916. This was two days prior to him arriving in France. A daughter, Patricia M Singleton, was born in early 1919. Probate was granted to his wife, when residing at Oakleigh, Walthew Avenue on 5 December 1918 for the sum of £66.3s.0d. She remarried at Islington, London in 1922 to Percy Waldron and lived at 55 Addington Mansions, Highbury Grange, Highbury, London.

Awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal.

Further information relating to the loss of RMS Leinster can be viewed at the Holyhead Maritime Museum. See also RMS Leinster.

Buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, County Dublin, Ireland. Grave location CE.Officers.27. He is also remembered on a family grave at St. Seiriol's Churchyard, Holyhead.

With thanks to John O'Grady of Dublin for permission to use the photograph of W J Singleton's gravestone and to the Royal Welch Fusilier Museum for additional information published on their Facebook Page.