Military Cross, 1915 Star Trio, 2nd Lieut John William Willey, Durham Light Infantry Officer, former underage enlistee in the Grenadier Guards.
“Temporary 2nd Lieutenant John William Willey, Durham Light Infantry, attached 13th Battalion.
At Rue du Pont and south-east of Fontaine au Bois on the 24th October 1918, as the Acting Adjutant when his Commanding Officer was wounded, he rendered invaluable assistance in reorganising the Battalion. it was largely due to his energy and coolness that the attack continued and was successful.”
MC announced in the London Gazette, April 1919, with Citation following in December 1919.
With digital copy of his full Officers Service File.
John William Willey, was born on 24th September 1897.
He lived in Stockton on Tees and first joined up with the 2nd Gren Guards early into the war on 19th November 1914.
At the time of his original enlistment he was just 1 month past his 17th Birthday. Of course this was not technically allowed, as Soldiers had to be over 18, but as long as the boy looked the part and no one inquired any further, they were ready for war.
After 9 months waiting and training, He first landed in France on 28th July 1915 to begin his war service, where he would spend the next 2 years.
At this point he was still 2 months shy of his 18th Birthday.
He would then spend the next 2 years and 4 months fighting in France during which time he would rise to Lance Corporal.
Having served 2 years in France with the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, holding the rank of Corporal, he was taken in for Officer Training on 4th November 1917.
He was said to be average but showed promise at the Cadet Battalion his CO remarks that he was:
“A Slack man, turned into a smart Soldier by his previous training. He should make a good Officer.”
He chose his 3 preferred regiments as the local Durham Light Infantry and Northumberland Fusiliers, or the Lancashire Fusiliers.
He got his first wish to serve in his local regiment the Durham Light Infantry.
He graduated at Lichfield his report signed by the LT Col of the 8th Officer Cadet Battalion at Lichfield on 27th April 1918.
Now he would return to France with the Durham Light Infantry, to continue his service as a 2nd Lieutenant.
The History of the 25th Division in France and Flanders, by Lieut Col M. Kincaid-Smith goes into detail of his services in 1918.
It would appear that the wounded Officer mentioned in the citation was Lt Col Hone, who had been put out of action on this day.
The Objective of the day was an attack launched early at 4. am
“At 4 AM the 24th October, the line again moved forward; the 74th Brigade reinforced by the 1/8th Worcersters
“With the 13th Durham Light Infantry, Lt Col Hone, MC, was unfortunately hit by a sniper when reconnoitring in front; he had led the battalion throughout the operations with great skill, and was a great loss to his unit. 2nd Lieut Willey as Adjutant, did valuable work during the fight, and both Lieut Gardner and Mitchell MC, led their companies with the greatest determination… All received decorations.”