King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Sanby, William Worthington

Second Lieutenant ▪ 20th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers

William Worthington Sanby, born on 9th August 1895, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1909, having transferred from Woodroughs School in Moseley. The youngest of nine children, William lived with his mother, Ellen, and his father, Arthur, a commercial traveller for a sewing cotton manufacturer, at ‘Ivanhoe’, St. Agnes Road, Moseley.

Three of William’s brothers also served in the war. The KES Service Record shows that his brother, Leslie, an Old Edwardian, served in the 15th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, surviving the war. A newspaper report of 15th July 1916 records that his brother, Harold, was killed in August 1915, and his brother, Arthur, was serving with the Westminster Dragoons. Neither Harold nor Arthur were Old Edwardians.

William studied a broad range of subjects at School, including French, drawing and botany, but was not highly placed in his class. He does not feature in the Chronicle, but this was not unusual for boys who joined KES later in their school careers.

At the outbreak of the war, William joined the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, as a Private Soldier. In April 1915, he obtained his commission as Second Lieutenant with the 20th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers and was first deployed on French soil in January 1916. He was killed attacking La Boisselle on 1st July 1916, aged twenty-one, one of nearly 20,000 British soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. William and the majority of his battalion were cut down by machine-gun fire whilst attacking down 800 yards of no man’s land in Mash Valley, and although a few isolated parties made the front line they were ultimately all killed. William’s body was never recovered, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and on the Four Oaks War Memorial, Sutton Coldfield. He left his estate of £67 to his father.