William Dorling

Service number: 23133 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Border Regiment.  Formerly of Norfolk Regiment (18743)

Killed in action, March 23, 1918, in Flanders. Aged 27.

Remembered at ARRAS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France.

Son of Harry and Mary Dorling, 156 London Road, Brandon, Suffolk.

Born and lived at Brandon, enlisted at Norwich.


William was born to Harry Dorling who was a gamekeeper on Brandon Fields and his wife, Mary. The family also lived on Brandon Fields. When William left school he also became a gamekeeper on Brandon Fields.

On 1st February 1915 William went to Norwich and enlisted into the army. At this time he was aged 24. His Medical Record states that he was tall for a Brandon man , 5-foot 9½-inches tall, and in good physical health. The day after enlisting he was placed into the Norfolk Regiment and on the 15th May was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment and given the Service number of 18743.

On 9th November 1915 he was transferred to the 7th Border Regiment and had a new Service Number, 23133. On 8th April 1916 he was removed from the frontline with an abscess on his knee and spent a week in the care of the 51st Field Ambulance, a small tented hospital area just away from the frontline. On the last day of the month he was wounded during the fighting and on the 4th May he left the frontline again, this time for a gunshot wound to his left hand. His wound did not respond to medical treatment and so ten days later he was admitted to a General Hospital in Boulogne, France. Six days of being a patient in hospital seemed to have done the trick and he was then released back to his unit. A week later he visited the hospital again because the hand wound was causing him problems but the hospital discharged him back to his unit that same day. On 27th July 1917 he was granted ten days leave.

On 21st March William’s battalion was ordered to move up to the frontline to reinforce trenches near Havrincourt because the German army were preparing to attack that area. All that day the British line was shelled by the enemy but William seems to have survived this. However the enemy were very persistent and the British suffered many casualties defending their lines and at midday on the 23rd March the 7th Border Regiment were ordered to withdraw. Slowly each company of the battalion withdrew from the action under covering fire from their own machine guns. The following day they moved across country to support the Lincolns in their withdrawal. A few days later William’s parents received a telegram from the War Office notifying them that their son had been killed on the 23rd March, which puts his death as occurring during the withdrawal from the advancing German army. At this time William’s parents had moved off Brandon Fields and were living at 156 London Road. William was 27 years old and an unmarried man.