War veteran honoured 100 years on from his death

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. 
Pic Steve Robards
Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards

Scores of people turned out to remember Private William Arthur Overton on the hundred anniversary of his death caused by injuries sustained in World War I.

William, the son of the owner of Overtons Bakery in Franklins Road, was buried in Western Road cemetery after his death on June 28, 1917.

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards

Three years earlier, he had volunteered for the Coldstream Guards but after just a few months on the battlefield of Ypres, he suffered a wound to the head which caused total blindness, brain damage and was sent back to the UK to Windsor Baracks.

He was eventually discharged from the army as totally unfit and died three years later.

As he died as a civilian, William did not receive a military funeral with full honours.

Canadian High Commissioners trumpeter Heidi Watkins thought this was not right and decided to make amends with a military style commemoration service to mark the centenary of his passing.

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. 
Pic Steve Robards

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards

On Wednesday, Miss Watkins was joined by Peter Austridge and Stuart Oden-Walder – two Coldstream re-enactors in WWI uniforms and rifles – and a number of William’s relatives.

Mayor of Haywards Heath James Knight also attended the service held at 11am alongside six pupils from St Wilfreds – William’s old school – who each read a line each from a prayer for William that they themselves had composed.

The service was conducted by Padre Ian Olive of the Canadian army chaplaincy.

Wreaths and floral tributes were laid by General Overton jointly with his son Alexander, Geoff and Lesley Overton, the pupils of St. Wilfreds, and James Knight Mr David Robins.

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. 
Pic Steve Robards

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards

Heidi Watkins said: “In all the event was attended by 26 people.

“The whole event was very moving, tasteful and with all due respect and decorum.”

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton.  Pic Steve Robards

Commemorative service to mark 100 years since the passing of William Overton. Pic Steve Robards