PRIVATE WILLIAM ARTHUR JAMES LEE
3RD MAY 1917 AGE 27
BURIED: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE
The subject of my tweets, blog and books is inscriptions. They come first and the person and their story comes afterwards. What I mean is that I don't look around for a person and then see what their inscription says, it's the other way round. This has led me along some interesting byways from very under age soldiers, men serving under false names, huge family tragedies, examples of incredible fortitude, to suicide and murder. This inscription has led me nowhere; I could find out even less than I usually can about a soldier and certainly nothing about Lee as a musician. Yet the inscription is one of the most powerful I've come across.
William Arthur James Lee was born in Chingford, Essex the son of Arthur James and Sarah Ann Lee who lived at 43 Higham Station Avenue in Chingford. This much it says in the War Graves Commission Register but I can't identify him with any certainty in any census.
William AJ Lee's medal card does not indicate when he enlisted nor when he arrived in France. We know he served with the 25th Tyneside (Irish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, that he died of wounds in hospital in Etaples on 3 May 1917 and that's it.
Arthur James Lee signed for his son's eloquent inscription - he did well.