A biography of the military career of Corporal William Henley DCM, MM
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Corporal William Henley DCM, MM

Serving Soldiers' Biographies

William Henley & Wife MaryWilliam Henley was born in 1886 at the top of Gammons Lane (later to become School Lane) Eaton Bray to John Henley an Eaton Bray man and Sarah Jane Henley nee Boarder born Ivinghoe Bucks. The family like many in the area were Duck breeders.

William was the third and last child being a brother for Fred born 1880 and Rose born 1882.

Not an easy start for young William and the family as in 1890 father John died at the age of 37. Two years later Sarah Jane married Harry/Henry Varney 15 plus years her junior still living on what was now known as School Lane.

William on leaving school became a Duck breeders help and later was employed at Wallace’s Fruit Farm.

There is a reference to him in Maurice Sanders' book "Wood Wurlitzer and Wesley" driving a horse drawn cart up Lancott Hill with 40 bushels of apples on board.

In 1911 William was boarding in School Lane with Alfred and Mary Fountain and grand daughter Mary Nichols who later on that year he married in Eaton Bray.

At the outbreak of war while still working at Wallace’s it is thought that he volunteered and joined the 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers London Regiment and was posted to France in 1915. His regiment fought in some of the fiercest battles of the war including Loo’s, The Somme and CambraI.

During his service he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (being mentioned in dispatches 3 times*) and the Military Medal.

Being demobbed in 1919 he returned to the village and his job at Wallace’s where he continued to work until his death at Three Counties Hospital in Stotfold on 2nd September 1935 aged only 48.

He was buried in Bower Lane on 7th September 1935.

* Relevant Dispatches

Medal Cards


William Henley FuneralFuneral of Mr William Henley

The funeral took place on Saturday at Eaton Bray of Mr William Henley of Northall Road Eaton Bray who died on the previous Monday in Stotfold Hospital at the age of 48.

Coming of an old local family Mr Henley had lived all his life in Eaton Bray and during the past 25 years had worked for Mr W E Wallace.

During the war he served with the 24th Royal Fusiliers winning the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal.

He leaves a widow.

The funeral service was conducted by the Rev H W Jones of Totternhoe.

The mourners were
Mrs M Henley, widow: Mr T Hoar, brother in law: Mrs R Hoar, sister: Mrs R Wood , Mrs E Holmes , aunts:Mrs Fred Henley, sister in law: Messrs J Henley and J Hoar, nephews: Mrs Rodgers and Miss J Henley , nieces: Mrs Cobb: Mr and Mrs J Hyde: Mr and Mrs T George: Mr and Mrs P Nicholls: Mr and Mrs H Gardener: Mr and Mrs C Nicholls: Mr and Mrs A Fisher:Mr and Mrs A Gutteridge:

Among those present in church were:
Mr and Mrs W E Wallace: Mr and Mrs E Gray: Miss M Wallace: Mr J W Scott: Messrs D Wood , G Wood , H Henley , G Fisher , J Costin , P Pratt , A Cobb , C Pipkin , A Croxford, Mrs D Wood , Mrs A Wood , Miss E Cole , Miss Betty George , Messrs E Brigginshaw , J Dennis , D Lugsden , E Impey , H Cheshire and F J Hing.

Mr S A Bates carried out the funeral arrangements.


  • Ancestry
  • Genes Reunited
  • London Gazzette
  • Free BMD
  • "Wood Wurlitzer and Wesley" by Maurice Sanders