1914 - 1918

World War One

William Maberly Fatt

Posted by Jan Bridget on

William was born in Exeter, Ontario, on 12th May 1892; he was the eldest of four sons born to the Rev. Fred Helling Fatt and Sarah Ellen Sutton. 

Rev Fatt had emigrated to Canada from London, England, in the 1870’s whilst Sarah Ellen’s father, William Sutton, came from Dent which is now in Cumbria, but used to be in West Yorkshire. He left for Canada in 1850. Sarah Ellen’s mother, Sarah Keyworth, originated in Tuxford, Nottinghamshire. William married Marjorie Hannah Sales in 1911 and they had two girls, Margaret Naomi and Constance Winifred.  Marjorie hailed from Preston, Lancashire. In 1914 William and his family lived in Victoria, Vancouver Island.  

William was a printer, working first for The Colonist newspaper and later for the provincial government. He already had three years experience in the army having joined the 50th Gordon Highlanders in Victoria, British Columbia and attaining the rank of sergeant in the signalling corps.

When war broke out he took a commission at Work Point Barracks, Victoria, and in the autumn of 1915 he was in charge of a draft for the Cycling Corps at Ottawa.  Lieutenant Fatt was then shipped to England and onto France where he spent just under a year on the front line. On returning to England, William transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.

He was about to complete his flying training when the new airplane he was flying caught fire in the air just off Wallsend, Northumberland.  Witnesses at the inquest stated:

"…the deceased was flying at a great height, and descended slowly. When within 100 feet of the ground the machine dashed down and caught fire. Deceased's body was badly burned. Witnesses thought deceased was in difficulties in a strong wind and tried to alight. Captain H. Higgin, R.F.C., said the deceased was in a new machine, but it was impossible to say what occurred. A control wire or strap might have broken which would have caused deceased to lose control. A verdict was returned that death was due to burns, but that there was no definite evidence to show what caused the machine to fall."

William died on 4th January 1917 and was buried at Croydon cemetery on 10th January, grave number 9210; his wife and children had moved to England to be near him and lived in Croydon at the time of his death. William’s brother, Frederick Philip Fatt, was also in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force (62nd Battery of the 15th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery) and served on the front line but survived; he later married William’s widow, Marjorie.

An interesting anomaly: William’s army records give 5th December 1890 as his birthdate, one assumes he lied about his age to join up.



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