2nd December 1915

There is a discrepancy in records as regards the age of Squadron Sergeant Major William Bloomer, who died on 2nd December 1915 whilst serving with the 3rd Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists his age at death as 42, suggesting a birth year of 1873. However, an announcement in the newspaper gives his age as 40, which fits with census returns, and gives a suggested birth year of 1875:

Information has been received in Birmingham that Squadron-sergeant-major William Bloomer, of the 3rd Canadian Mounted Royal Rifles, has been killed in action in France. He was the second son of Mr and Mrs Giles T. Bloomer, of Dorridge, and was forty years of age.
Birmingham Daily Mail, 11th December 1915
However, Canadian records give his date of birth as 11th December 1879. All records agree that he was born in Halesowen, and that his father was Giles Thomas Bloomer.

The 1881 census shows six-year-old William living with his parents, Giles and Anne, and his five brothers aged between one and eight, in Park Field, Lapal, Stourbridge. Giles was a nail manufacturer employing 40 men, 16 boys and four girls. In 1891, the family, now joined by a 9-year-old daughter, was listed at Parkfield House, Carter’s Lane, Lapal, Stourbridge. William was a 16-year-old apprentice to his father. By 1901 the family had moved to Warwick Road, Olton. Ten years’ later, they were in Cross Close, Dorridge, although William was not with them as he emigrated to Canada in 1902 and appears on the 1911 census as a merchant living in Edmonton, Alberta. He is recorded as married, although his wife appears to be absent from the family home on census night, and his race is listed as “English”, with “Canadian” as his nationality. It looks as if his brother, Arthur, a farmer, also emigrated to Canada in 1906.

William enlisted with the Canadian forces, on 29th December 1914, giving his age as 35 and his occupation as merchant. He was 5ft 9in tall, with a ruddy complexion and brown hair.

The 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles War Diary describes activities on 2nd December 1915:

8 a.m. – Raining
10 a.m. – Enemy lightly shelling the rear of our front line.
12 noon to 1 p.m. – Artillery shelling IRISH FARM and Regimental Dugouts South of IRISH FARM. Two H.E. shells struck Regimental Office no damage.
2 p.m. – Heavy artillery duel. In the early stages the heavy artillery was paying attention to Brigade & Divisional Hdqrs. About 2.20 p.m. Regimental Hdqrs., communication trenches, support and front line trenches came under shrapnel and H.E. shell fire which continued until sunset. The casualties in this affair were as follows [lists 9 killed inc. Bloomer, and 11 wounded].
He is buried in Berks Cemetery Extension, Belgium, and is commemorated locally on Dorridge War Memorial.
If you have any further information about William Bloomer or his family, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk


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