Second Lieutenant WILLARD BARBER 2nd Bn., Yorkshire Regiment who died on Saturday 5 January 1918. Age 24.
Son of George and Rebecca Barber, of Sunderland.
RAILWAY DUGOUTS BURIAL GROUND Sp. Mem. G. 10.
Willard Barber, a son of George and Rebecca Barber, is born on 5 November 1893 in Sunderland in Northern England. When the war breaks out in 1914, Willard wants to join the army but is rejected because his build is too slight. In September 1915, his weight and muscle volume have apparently increased sufficiently for him to enlist without further problems in the 10th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, which is also called the Green Howards.
Willard Barber fights at Loos, on the Somme, and elsewhere. In September 1917, he is assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, with which he participates in the Battle of Passendale. On 2 January 1918, they are posted in the Hedge Street Tunnel, between Zillebeke and Zandvoorde. Three days later, their transfer to Amiens is postponed. It is precisely on this day that a fire breaks out in the tunnel. Sublieutenant Barber is suffocated along with 20 others.
Willard Barber is buried in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm) in Zillebeke. He receives a 'special memorial' with the text "known to be buried in this cemetery", for the original grave is later destroyed by shellfire.
(Source: Characters from the Great War on http://www.inflandersfields.be)