History of Kirkby Group logo

The Fallen of Kirkby

William Proctor

  • Son of John Callow Proctor and Mary Ann Proctor (née Atkinson) of Bolton Ground.
  • Private, 20344, 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry.
  • Killed in Action 4th December 1916 near Kut-al-Amara, Mesopotamia, aged 34.
  • Buried, Amara War Cemetery Part II, Amara, Iraq, Block XXXI, Row F, Grave 14.

William Proctor was born in Kirkby to John and Mary Proctor of a cottage between Bank House and the farmhouse in Sandside. The couple had six other children, Richard, Joseph, Ann, Hannah Mary, Eleanor, and Elizabeth. William, born in 1882, came between Eleanor and Elizabeth. By 1891 the family had moved to Bolton Ground, and in 1901 they were at Friars’ Ground, though William had left home by then. In 1911 John and Mary Ann were at High Ghyll House with just a granddaughter, Jane, and a grandson, William. Mary Ann died in August that year, aged 67. Soon after William was killed, John died on 28th February 1917, aged 72. Both parents are buried in St Cuthbert’s Churchyard.

John Procter, as he usually spelled his name, spent his whole working life in the quarry, and William worked there briefly in 1904. Before that William had been in farm service at Whitbeck near Bootle, where at 19 he worked with cattle and lived in Town End Hall with the family and workers employed by the farmer, John Dixon. His brother, Richard, sixteen years older than William, was an iron ore miner, and by 1911 William himself was working up the coast at Frizington, mining. There he lodged with William Wilson at 147 Park Gate, who, with his son, was in the same trade.

Sometime after the outbreak of war, Proctor enlisted in Egremont in the Highland Light Infantry, joining the 1st Battalion. This was a regular army battalion, and probably he was filling a gap left by casualties. We know from the tiny bit of his army record that survives, that he did not embark before the end of 1915. In December 1915 the 1st Battalion transferred from the Western Front to Mesopotamia, and Proctor must have joined them there. As part of the 3rd (Lahore) Division, the HLI had the goal of capturing Bagdad and defending British interests there against the Turks, who were threatening oil supplies. The 1st Battalion took part in actions at Fat-ha Gorge on the Little Zab, and The Battle of Sharqat. It saw out the war still in Mesopotamia, but William Proctor did not, being killed in action on 4th December 1916.

Amara War Cemetery, Iraq

Amara War Cemetery, Iraq
Amara War Cemetery, Iraq

The headstones were removed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for repair.

Note:
Before considering a visit to Iraq the Commonwealth War Graves Commission strongly recommends that you check the advice given by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on the travel section of their website.

Amara War Cemetery contains 4,621 burials of the First World War, more than 3,000 of which were brought into the cemetery after the Armistice. 925 of the graves are unidentified. In 1933, all of the headstones were removed from this cemetery when it was discovered that salts in the soil were causing them to deteriorate. Instead a screen wall was erected with the names of those buried in the cemetery engraved upon it.

During the present instability in Iraq, the CWGC is unable to maintain its war cemeteries in that country. As a temporary measure the Commission has produced a Roll of Honour listing all casualties in Iraq. The two volumes may be seen at the Head Office in Maidenhead.

Scroll to Top