William Vivaish Eastman

Rank Second Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 04/10/1917
Age 19
Regiment/Service King's Royal Rifle Corps 13th Battalion
Memorial Tyne Cot Memorial - one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area kinown as the Yypres Salient. Royal Society of Chemistry memorial, Burlington House, London.

 

William Vivaish Eastman (not Viviash as the St Luke’s memorial states) was born at 20 Chadwell Street, Clerkenwell, London on 3rd May 1898. His father, William George (b 1873), a silkman’s commercial clerk, and May Bessie Eastman. In due course, He had three younger siblings: Edward (b 1898), Geoffrey (b 1904) and Muriel (b 1908) and the family moved to 27 Dudley Road, Finchley to accommodate their growing numbers. The four children then began to attend Squires Lane School (now Manorside School).

In 1910, William entered Christ’s College, Finchley and subsequently joined the Cadet Force there, becoming Colour Sergeant before leaving the school in 1915. His marksmanship was notable and his participation in shooting competitions resulted in him twice being awarded the Challenge cup (now the Hennell Cup). In his memory, his parents gifted the Cadet Force with the Eastman trophy, to be given to the contingent shot each year. Though the original trophy was lost, it was still awarded annually and the trophy itself was replaced in 2009.

Upon leaving Christ’s College, William studied at the Ciy & Guilds Institute of Technology College in Finsbury, becoming a a member of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (now the Royal Society of Chemistry).

On 19th May 1916 William enlisted at Wood Green, joining the Middlesex Regiment, stating that his father's occupation was managing clerk. He signed his attestaion papers on 17th July 1916 at Mill Hill barracks, listing his occupation as a chemical student. He trained with the 100th training reserve battalion and applied for an officer's commission on 29th September which based at Salamanca barracks in Aldershot. He started his officer training on 6th December 1916 at Balliol College, Oxford with No 6 Officer Cadet Battalion.

Having transferred into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, he arrived in Flanders in March 1917. He suffered a self-inflicted injury through his own negligence on 31st August 1917 - a clean wound about 1 in long and ¼ in deep on the front of his left knee cap, which was not serious. Information from his own hand and his commanding officer reveals that at about 3pm while in the front line trench, he was cleaning his revolver. He had replaced the cartridges and in closing the revolver caught his finger on the trigger, discharging it and causing a slight injury to his knee. The wound was dressed by company stretcher bearers and immediately it was sufficiently dark he returned to company HQ and then to Battalion HQ, reporting to senior officers, who concluded that he was to blame and censured him. Four days later, he re-joined his regiment.

On 4th October 1917,the first day of the Battle of Broodseinde during the Third Battle of Ypres, he was killed in action during a dawn attack. There is no record of his body being recovered. He had no will and the witness who signed this confirmation in a formal statement from his father was a Wesleyan (Methodist) minister living at 32 Fortis Green, East Finchley, from which it would be reasonable to assume that the family were probably members of a Methodist Church.

At the time of his death, William’s family were still living at 27 Dudley Road, Finchley. The November 1917 edition of the monthly magazine of St Luke’s Finchley lists William’s death in the Roll of Honour, but gives no more information beyond that which is set out above.