Tag Archives: William Charles Duffield

The Duffield brothers: William Charles (13 November 1895 – 28 May 1984) and Edward Patrick (21 December 1898 – 5 January 1995)

The fourth in this series on the ringers in the officer’s peals of 1919 is effectively combined with what would logically be the sixth post: Edward Patrick Duffield rang the fourth in the original peal at Putney while his older brother, William Charles Duffield rang the sixth.


William was born in Tasburgh, Norfolk on 13 November 1895, and Edward (Ted) on 21 December 1898, sons of William Lant Duffield and Florence Rachel (nee Fuller). They had an elder sister, Rachel Constance, and several younger brothers, of whom James Frederic (Jim) would also serve in the war. Their father was a miller and was steadily increasing his interests in local mills. He was also a ringer and actively encouraged the family to follow him.

The brothers were educated at the City of Norwich school before starting to work for their father. Following floods in 1912 there seem to have been some financial difficulties, and this may be the reason why both William Charles and Ted had moved to Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, and were working for William Hipwell at Stoke Mills when war broke out.
William Charles joined the Bedfordshire Yeomanry very soon after the outbreak of war and had two spells in France. He was then commissioned into 3rd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, in 1918 and posted to Egypt where he was attached to 123rd Outram’s Rifles, an Indian Army regiment. He contracted dysentery (again, his two spells in France were also terminated by this illness) on 27 October 1918. He was invalided home on 22 January 1919, arriving at Southampton on 22 February. He was still being treated at 2nd London General Hospital, based in St Mark’s College, Chelsea, at the time of the Putney peal.
After the war, following a few years in South Africa, William Charles developed the family business. As Duffield’s Feeds it’s still a family business today. Ted was a salesman for the firm and lived in Colchester where he was a town councillor (and mayor). He also played croquet to national standard. His war service began only in May 1918 when he joined the RAF. He was still in training when the Armistice was declared. On finally completing his training he was commissioned on 20 January 1919, but demobilised the same day.
The Duffield brothers rang in a peal at Saxlingham on 18 June 1914 when the average age of the ringers was eighteen and a half years old, then the youngest peal band on record.

Eight young men in suits, four standing beind, four seated in front. Positioned in front of the porc of a flint-built church

Back Row from left Edward P Duffield, Alfred Funnell, Cecil Chamberlin, James Duffield, Front Row. William C Duffield, George H Cross, Frank Copeman, Bertie F Turner. All the members of the band served in the war with Alfred Funnell and Bertie F Turner killed. Image courtesy of Jan and Dr Jeff Fox of the Saxlingham War Memorials website (and ringers at Saxlingham)

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