William Alfred Rushen was born in Weymouth in 1892, one of six sons born to Edwin Rushen and Lucy Catherine Randell.
He joined the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment on 5 December 1910 at the age of seventeen years and nine months. On Attestation he was five feet seven and a half inches tall, weighed one hundred and thirteen pounds, with a chest measurement of thirty three and a half inches. His occupation was that of an out porter.
On the 31st December 1910 he was found drunk and disorderly on Wharfdown Road, Blackdown and was sentenced to ten days confined to barracks. The next time we here of William he is in Poona, India, and in trouble again. On the 19th August 1910 he is charged with quitting the barracks after Tattoo Roll call and being drunk, four days CB and fined two shillings and sixpence.
On the 25th September 1911 William is to be found in hospital at Aldershot with a severe leg fractured gained whilst playing football, he was to spend forty-eight days in hospital recovering.
He was posted to the 2nd Bn., Dorsetshire Regiment as 9006 Private William Rushen on the 11th December 1912, travelling back to Poona on HMT “Plassy” where he arrived on the 3rd January 1913. He then steers clear of trouble until New Years Eve, 31st January 1914 1045 hrs., when he is caught fighting outside the Company bungalows, punishment 5 days CB.
William saw service in India until 5th November 1914. The 2nd. Battalion of six hundred men was sent to Mesopotamia to protect British interests. For the twelve months from 6th December 1914 the Battalion was engaged in a number of battles along the river Tigris. In December 1915 they found themselves defending the town of Kut-al-Amara. They were surrounded on three sides by the Tigris, with no bridge, and cut off on the fourth side by the Turkish Forces.
They remained under siege for one hundred and forty seven days until they were starved into surrender on 30th April 1916. The remaining three hundred and fifty
men were taken prisoner and force marched one thousand miles to Turkey. The last part of the journey was made by train, by the time the journey ended on the 25th June at Bagtsche in Turkey only one hundred and forty men had survived, Private William Rushen was among them. Their sufferings were not over. Despite their weak condition they were put to work building a railway. Within weeks most men were too ill to work. Private William Rushen went down with dysentery and on 21st August 1916 he died, he was twenty-three years old.
William’s mother would have been informed of his capture at Kut but would never have known of his death, as that information was not available until the armistice in 1919, she died 1917.
William’s remains are interred in the Baghdad (North Gate) War cemetery. Baghdad was the headquarters of the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia until it fell in March 1917. The North Gate Cemetery was begun in April 1917 and was greatly enlarged after the First World war by graves brought in from other burial grounds in Baghdad and cemeteries in Anatolia where prisoners of war were buried by the Turks.
Medals issued to William were, 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.