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Private William Mackness Needham

40070 7th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Son of Mr Harry & Mrs Emily Needham
Husband of Mabel Needham

Aged 25 years

Died 11th March 1917

Commemorated at Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Grave 5
And on Irchester War Memorial

Born at Irchester.
Rushden Echo, 23rd March 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Soldiers Killed—Pte Wm M Needham, Northants Regt., son of Mr Harry Needham, Coronation Villas, Irchester, is reported killed. He was, prior to enlistment, employed on the Midland railway at Rushden. He was a married man and resident in Rushden.

The Rushden Echo Friday 30 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Machine Gunner Killed - Shot by a Sniper - Irchester Family Bereaved - Tributes from His Comrades

Pte Wm NeedhamOfficial news was received last week by Mrs Needham, of 26 Sartoris-road, Rushden, that her husband, Pte W M Needham, Northants Regt, was killed in action on March 11th. Two letters have also been received from his pals. Pte J T Hatfield writes to Pte Needham's mother:-

"Dear Mrs Needham, - it is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you that your son, my pal, Pte Needham, was killed in action this morning (March 11th). He was at his post when a sniper killed him. He died instantly, without pain or suffering. He will be greatly missed by all his pals, especially myself, for he was with me in England and in the same regiment. He was a fine chap, and always with a smile on his face. He died a hero, fighting for his King and country, and I cannot express how deeply sorry I am for his wife, his child and all of you."

Pte C G George writes to the widow as follows:-

"Dear Mrs Needham, - Being a comrade of your husband, I am sorry to say that he was killed in action on March 11th, about noon, by a sniper, while serving his King and country as a soldier and a man. I may say that he suffered no pain whatever. As soon as the bullet hit him he was dead. I was in charge of the gun and was an old pal of his, and with the rest of the team shall miss him very much, as he was cheerful and also a good gunner, always doing his duty. It is hard for you to bear the terrible blow, but you have all the team's and my own deepest sympathy. I may say that his body was taken back to the side of other heroes in the British cemetery."

From the letters above, it can be guessed that Pte Needham was engaged on machine gun work at the time of his death, and indeed, his wife received a letter from him describing his work on the same day that she received the news of his death.

Pte Needham, who leaves a widow and one child, was almost 26 years old. He was a son of Mr Harry Needham, of Coronation Villas, Irchester. He enlisted on November 23rd, 1914, being then employed on the Midland Railway at Rushden, and he went out to France on August 17th, 1916.

The widow and near relations of the deceased soldier wish to convey thanks to all those who have shown such sympathy in their great loss.

The Rushden Echo Friday 15 March 1918, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

NEEDHAM - In loving memory of Pte W M Needham, of the 7th Northants Regt., killed in action, in France , March 11th, 1917, aged 26, the beloved husband of Mabel Florence Needham, late of 26 Sartoris-road, Rushden, now living at 1 Westfield-street, Higham Ferrers.

When alone in my sorrow and bitter tears flow
There stealth sweet dreams of a short time ago;
And, unknown to the world, he stands by my side,
And whispers these words "Death cannot divide."
He laid his richest gift on the altar of duty - his life.

From his loving wife and little son, Jim.

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