William was born on 9/11/1895, he was the oldest son of Joseph Gaskell Lee and Annie Janet Wheat who had married in 1895. Joseph was a Shoe Clicker and Annie was a Griswold Hand from Wigston Magna.
In 1901 the Lee family were living at 134 Knighton Fields Road East in Knighton, Joseph and Annie now had two sons, William’s younger brother, also called Joseph Gaskell was born on 21/1/1897, both brothers were baptised at St Michael’s and All Angels church on 24/7/1898. They also had a boarder living with them, 79 year old widow Elizabeth Lee.
The family emigrated to Canada and the 1911 Canadian Census shows them living at 24 Canada Street, Hamilton in Ontario. Also living with them was Annie’s younger brother, Alfred Wheat.
William enlisted to the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 31/8/1915, his younger brother Joseph had already joined up in April as had Alfred in June.
On the 9/11/1916 William was listed as Wounded on the Casualty List issued by the War Office. He died on 1/3/1917 aged 22 and is remembered on the Vimy Memorial, in France which is Canada’s largest overseas memorial and commemorates more than 11,000 Canadian men killed in the First World War in France with no known grave.
Younger brother Joseph survived the war, but was wounded, he was on the War Office Casualty List dated 24/5/1916. The following year he was admitted to hospital on 30/6/1917 with Slight Inflammation of Connective Tissue of the Left Buttock and later transferred to a Convalescent Camp on the 14/7/1917.
Alfred Wheat, the brother’s uncle was a Gunner in the Canadian Field Artillery. The London Gazette dated 27/10/1916 reported that Alfred had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. Not long after, now a Bombardier, on the 19/12/1916 the Gazette again reported that Alfred had been awarded a Bar to his Military Medal.
The Military Medal was the ‘other ranks’ equivalent to the Military Cross, it was awarded for ‘acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire or for individual or associated acts of bravery’ and gave the recipient the right to add the letters M.M to his name.