Remembering Wilfred George Lake

The team from Wood Norton have shared some more research with us about a man appearing on their war memorial but while they’ve found out lots about Wilfred George Lake if anyone help tell the stories of his siblings it would be wonderful.


Wilfred George Lake was the youngest son of William and Mary Ann Lake, born in Wood Norton and baptised on the 12th April 1896 at All Saints, Wood Norton (see Figure 1).[1]

Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, All Saints, Wood Norton, 1896

Whilst the British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 do not appear to have survived for Wilfred, there are some extant records and it can be established that he enlisted at North Walsham and joined the Norfolk Yeomanry (Private 1520), but he was later transferred to the 1st Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment (Private 43355)[2].

The war diaries of the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment have survived, and the entry for the 9th September 1916 records a battle at High Wood, with B and D companies attacking at 4.45pm

from the right edge of the Wood to Sap 4.  A crater being blown on the right, on the site of the crater blown for the 1st Bde attack on the 3rd inst first taken by Black Watch & then lost.  No artillery preparations within the wood, but a short Stokes mortar bombardment, which was ineffective, for the instant our men went over the parapet, the Germans opened a very heavy rifle and M[achine] G[un] fire.  Our attack was unable to reach their objective except on the right, where the crater, (the debris of which injured several of our men) was occupied by 2/Lt. Clarke and his platoon.  This platoon was supported by another under 2/Lt. Cooper and a Lewis Gun.  The Germans counter-attacked strongly with bombs, put the Lewis gun out of action, and drove out our men. …. The majority of the men of these 2 platoons were killed, wounded or missing’.[3]

Total casualties recorded for that day were 4 officers and 135 other ranks.  This is therefore likely to be the engagement in which Wilfred was killed.  He was 20 years old.  The war diary for the 10th September for High Wood also records the changeover of Companies in the front line, B and D Companies going down to Battalion HQ in Reserve, and new officers and men being drafted in.

The Record of Soldier’s Effects (1917) for Wilfred record these as £5 15s 1d, with an additional War Gratuity of £9, paid in October 1919 to his mother, Mary Ann Lake.  Mary Ann was a widow, Wilfred’s father, William, having died in 1902.[4]


Wilfred’s name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11A and 11D), the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.  It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and, like Wilfred’s, have no known grave.  Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The dead of other Commonwealth countries who died on the Somme and have no known graves are commemorated on national memorials elsewhere.[5]  Wilfred’s name also appears on the Battle of the Somme Roll of Honour website[6] (which aims to remember the British, Canadian, New Zealand, South African and Indian soldiers who gave their lives during the Battle of the Somme in 1916), listed under the Roll of Honour, 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment section,[7]  just one of the 315 soldiers from this Battalion who died during the Somme conflict.

Wilfred was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal (see Figure 2). [8]

Figure 2: British Army WW1 Medal Roll Index Card for Wilfred Lake

A memorial inscription to Wilfred is included on the headstone to his parents, who are buried Wood Norton churchyard: And of Wilfred, their youngest son, Killed in Action in France in 1916, Aged 20 years.

Further research into Wilfred’s family reveals that Wilfred’s father, William, was born in Wood Norton in 1848, and baptised on the 27 February 1848 in All Saints Church, the son of John and Susan Lake.[9]  He died on the 14 December 1902, aged 53.  William married Mary Ann Howlett on the 19th December 1874[10] (Mary Ann notes in the 1911 census that although a widow, she had been married for 37 years). Wilfred’s mother, Mary Ann, was born in Foulden, Norfolk, c1857.[11]  She died on the 28th January 1931, aged 74.

The 1911 census for Wood Norton shows that the family were living in a cottage with 5 rooms, and that Wilfred was one of 10 children born to William and Mary Ann (on the census return, Mary Ann had recorded that out of 10 children born, one had died) – six boys and four girls:

Name Born Baptised[12] Died[13]
Frances Sarah Anne 1875[14] 1st April 1876
John William 1877[15]
Ellis Henry 1879[16] 16th May 1886*

The register records ‘This child had been privately baptised by a Nonconformist Minister. 18 July 1879’

Frederick Joseph 7th May 1881

(recorded in the baptism register)

15th October 1882


1904 aged 23; buried in Wood Norton
Rosanna 12th March 1884

(recorded in the baptism register)

16th May 1886*


Sidney 16th March 1886

(recorded in the baptism register)

16th May 1886*


1960 aged 74; buried in Wood Norton
Lily May 1891[17] 7th June 1891
Alfred Ernest 1893[18] 25th December 1893 1919 aged 26; buried in Wood Norton
Wilfred George 1896 12th April 1896  
Katherine Mary 5th October 1902

  * Ellis Henry, Rosanna and Sidney were baptised at All Saints on the same day

For Wilfred’s surviving brothers there appear to be no extant WW1 service records so, given their ages and marital status it may be that he was the only one who served:  John William married Alice Alcock in 1901 and was living in Foulsham Lane, Hindolveston in 1911 with his wife and six children; by then he was aged 33 and a horseman on a farm.[19]  Ellis Henry was aged 31 in 1911 and a groom at Flixton Hall, Bungay, he married Anna Ebbs in 1912, and died in 1954 aged 75.[20]  Sidney was aged 25 and Alfred Ernest was aged 17 in 1911; neither of these names are listed on the Wood Norton war memorial, which records all those men known to have served in WW1.

[1] 1911 census Wood Norton (Schedule 159) (; FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1896, Aylsham Vol.4b p.90 (; Wood Norton Baptisms Register 1813-1920.

[2] Wilfred Lake in UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1918 records (

[3] See

[4] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1902, Aylsham Vol.4b p.50 (

[5] CWGC information for the Thiepval Memorial (

[6] See

[7] See

[8] See

[9] Wood Norton Parish Register, Baptisms 1813-1920 (; Free BMD, Quarter to March 1848, Aylsham Vol.13, p.13 (

[10] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1874, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.253 (; Norfolk Family History Society, S & K Howells, Transcript and Index to Wood Norton Marriages 1600-1930 (

[11] 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 159) (; headstone in All Saints, Wood Norton gives Mary Ann’s age as 74.

[12] Wood Norton Parish Registers, Baptisms 1813-1920 (

[13] S & K Howells, Transcript and Index to Wood Norton,  Burials 1601-1999, Norfolk Heritage Centre, WOO 929.3

[14] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1875, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.76 (

[15] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1877 (, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.80; 1901 census for Wood Norton (

[16] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1879, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.73 (

[17] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1891, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.82 (

[18] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1893, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.86 (

[19] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1901, Aylsham Vol.4B p.181 (; 1911 census Hindolveston (Schedule 23) (

[20] 1911 census Flixton (Schedule 4) (; FreeBMD: Marriage, Quarter to March 1912, Wangford Vol.4a p.1373; and Death, Quarter to December 1954, Lothingland, Vol.4b, p.812 (


One thought on “Remembering Wilfred George Lake

  1. Pingback: Remembering Wilfred George Lake – Your Ancestor Search

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