I was researching another article in the local archives when I found this report of a funeral that took place on 10th May 1915 at Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery. The next day the Sheffield Daily Telegraph carried the following


What I found astounding is that William "responded to the call at the outbreak of war" and was still "on duty at a fort in the Bristol Channel" at the age of 67.  I realise that there were severe recruitment difficulties in 1914 but surely there were younger men available to guard the forts. It is also rather sad that William did not get the military funeral he so richly deserved. I am sure the British Army could have managed to fire a couple of volleys at the funeral  - they seemed to find the wherewithal  when it came to executing serving soldiers at the Western Front

The 1911 Census clearly states that William was an "Army Pensioner"

Name William Needham
Relationship to Head of Household Head
Condition Married
Gender Male
Age 62 Estimated Year of Birth 1849
Occupation Army Pensioner A C C
Employed Y Working at Home N
Place of Birth Ireland Dublin Resident
Enumerator Information
Address 80 Suffolk Road Sheffield Parish Sheffield Town Sheffield
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 7 Inhabited Y Reference RG14PN27862 RG78PN1594 RD510 SD1 ED14 SN332
Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District Sheffield Registration Sub District South Sheffield Enumeration District 14

The grave is in section D5 of Burngreave Cemetery

NEEDHAM, William (Army Pensioner, age 66).
Died at 80 Suffolk Rd; Buried on May 10, 1915 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 35, Section D5 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield. Remarks: Officiating Minister: E Lloyd Rees, Removed from Sheffield Parish.

Just under twelve years later his wife Margaret was laid to rest in the same grave

NEEDHAM, Margaret (Widow, age 67).
Died at Main Rd. Grindleford; Buried on February 22, 1927 in Consecrated ground;
Grave Number 35, Section D5 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Remarks: Officiating Minister, Wilfred A Gleghorn: Removed from Derbyshire Parish.

In January 2019 a reader of this article added some more information which may explain where William contracted pneumonia and more importantly why

"Mr William Needham- a Sheffield Veteran. The newspaper article states that he contracted pneumonia while on duty at a fort in the Bristol Channel. Iím not surprised; itís bloody cold out there when the tide comes in during winter. As far I know there is only one fort, and that is on the end of Brean Down a few miles from where I grew up in Somerset. It is now part of the National Trust, but as a kid growing up in the sixties and seventies it was part of our playground.


Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 11th May 1915

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This page was last updated on 10/01/19 16:40