Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
23 Apr 1917
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Sgt William Cyril Frederick Charles Meakins, 3635, 51st Company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), was killed in action on April 23rd, 1917. He had been badly wounded in the abdomen and was unable to move from right up against the German wire. A comrade who tried to help him placed him in a shell hole, but was unable to find him when he returned for him later that night.
Sgt Meakins, known as Cyril, was initially reported missing, believed killed, before parents William and Ada at 12a Cardigan Street, Luton, were officially informed on May 28th.
Comrade L-Cpl Davis earned the Military Medal for his attempts to save Sgt Meakins, but another comrade named Lewis was wounded and died trying to crawl back to his lines. The Lewis referred to was probably Pte Harry Lewis, 67908, of the same company. He was aged 21 and from London.
In a letter to Mr and Mrs Meakins, L-Cpl Davis wrote: "When he got near the enemy's wire, I saw Cyril, who had just been wounded, on the other side of the wire. Together with another of our boys, named Lewis, we commenced to get him into a shell hole for cover. Unfortunately whilst doing this Lewis himself was hit in the wrist by a bullet.
"Eventually I succeeded in getting Cyril into the shell hole, and as far as was possible bandaged him up. I am extremely sorry to say he was rather badly wounded, being hit in two places - the left knee and left side. I stayed with Cyril some time in the hope that assistance might come.
"I made an attempt to get him back myself, but, as he was not able to give any help because of his wounds, it was more than I could manage. Nothing turned up, and the shelling got worse so at last I was forced to crawl back to our own lines, intending to go back when it got dark with assistance.
"The shelling was continuous during the day, but died down after dark. Sgt Trotter and myself again went out to find Cyril, but unfortunately our search failed, so we were reluctantly compelled to give it up.
"Cyril was sergeant of the section to which I belong and was a great favourite with all. He would have done as much for us had it been necessary."
Cyril was an engineer at the Commer Cars factory in Biscot Road, Luton, before enlisting. He was 19 when he joined the Beds Regiment at the outbreak of war and undertook training at Dovercourt, Redhill and Colchester. He was transferred to Grantham on the formation of the Machine Gun Corps and left England with a MGC contingent in February 1916 for France, where he had been ever since.
A Machine Gun Corps officer who wrote to Mr and Mrs Meakins said that when the search party found no sign of their son he thought he had probably been hit again during the heavy shelling. Sgt Meakins had been reported wounded and missing, believe killed, but the officer feared it was practically certain he had been killed.