William Henry Archbutt was born on September 10, 1860 in Lambeth to William Edwards Archbutt and Sarah Archbutt (née Dillamore). William Edwards Archbutt was a successful Pawnbroker and they lived in a large house with five servants in Lambeth. William Henry Archbutt had three older sisters: Sarah, Violet and Maude.
After attending school and completing his education he then studied to become a brewer and by 1891, he had moved to Bedfordshire. On April 8, 1896 he married Annie Moul, in Surbiton Surrey but by 1901 they had moved to 235 Bramhall Lane, Stockport and William was the manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport. He was Gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment on July 13, 1901 and two years later on February 4, 1903 promoted to Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain on February 11, 1905 retaining his rank when the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment was formed in April 1908 and on July 17, 1913 he was promoted to Major.
At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and on his 54th birthday he sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While the battalion were stationed at Abbassia barracks, Major Archbutt became ill and was admitted to hospital on January 26, 1915 suffering from gall stones. His service record provides the following details:
Patient was admitted to hospital Jan 26, 1915 suffering from acute Cholecystitis.
The attack commenced in the early morning, two days before admission. Patient was then seized with acute pain in the epigastric region; this pain subsequently moved to area of the 9th rib on right side and had remained there ever since. He had not vomited, nor felt sick. The bowels had been freely opened two days before admission.
Disease: Cholecystitis [inflammation of the gallbladder] Cardiac Failure
On Admission: Temperature 100.8. Pulse 74.
Tongue very furred; breath foul. There was considerable pain over upper segment right rectus [Rectus Abdominis muscle] in which also there was marked Tenderness & rigidity. That night Morphia 1/4 grain was given.
Jan 27: Morning Temperature 100.6. Pulse 64.
Patient had passed a good night; pain & tenderness slightly less. Jubol given night & morning as intestinal disinfectant, and also Urotropine as biliary disinfectant.
Evening temp: 99.4. Simple enema. Good result.
Jan 28: Morning Temp: Normal. Pulse: 74
Patient had had comfortable night. B.O. 2.
Evening Temp: 99. Pulse: 72.
Jan 29: Morning Temp: 99.2. Pulse 64.
Pain & tenderness less; rigidity absent on gentle palpitation.
Evening Temp: 99
Jan 30: Morning Temp: 98.2. Pulse 64
Patient very comfortable. Slight tenderness over gall bladder. Light food ordered.
Jan 31: Temperature & Pulse Normal
On this day patient was seen with me by Col. Bird, Consulting Surgeon AIF; he concurred in the diagnosis and agreed that an operation was not necessary.
Condition normal. tenderness over gall bladder subsided until it was absent. On Feb 3rd, Patient began to eat an ordinary diet and to get up for several hours after lunch.
On Feb 5th, he was examined as to whether an invaliding board would be necessary. The result of that examination was as follows: –
Previous History. This was excellent. Patient had never had a serious illness before and had always led an active life. About eighteen months ago he suffered from Catarrhal Otitis Media [Inner ear infection] which was said to be of gouty origin. Under dietary precautions this quickly cleared up. At the same time, he suffered slightly from indigestion which however soon yielded to treatment.
Present Condition. General condition excellent though there is well marked Arcus Senilis [ring around the irises of the eye, seen as normal in a man of his age] present.
Nervous System: Normal
Circulatory System: Heart normal in size. Slightly accentuated second sound. Action regular. No bruits [sound made in the blood vessels resulting from turbulence].
Pulse: Regular (68-72) & strong. Slightly high in tension but no more than normal in a man of his age.
Vessels: Slight arteriosclerosis present
Urological System: Normal. Urine: Slight deposit Phosphates. No albumen or sugar.
Digestive System: Normal. Slight tenderness over gall bladder still remaining.
It was reported that an invaliding board was not necessary.
On the morning of this day, he reported himself “very well” and asked to be allowed to get up before lunch. This he was allowed to do and on the same day was transferred to the Officer’s Hospital. He spent a quiet and comfortable afternoon and evening and when advised by the Sister to go to bed early asked to be allowed to stay up as he felt so well.
Having dined about 7:30pm he was proceeding to his bedroom when he fell. He was placed on the bed and complained of inability to breathe. His face was pale and clammy, his pulse slow and small. He stated that he had no pain in his chest or abdomen; the latter being quite flaccid and painless. Strychnine and Ether were administered and later, artificial respiration applied but with no avail. The choking sensation became more marked, the pulse slower and more feeble and finally stopped and he died about 8pm.
J.C. Jefferson, Lt. R.A.M.C. (T)
Major William Henry Archbutt died on February 8, 1915 in military hospital in Cairo. He was 54 years old. He was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery about 4km south of Kasr-El-Nil barracks where the battalion were first stationed in Cairo.
The following article was published in the February 13, 1915 edition of the Ashton Reporter:
We regret to announce the death, which took place at Cairo on Tuesday 8th February, of Major William Henry Archbutt, of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials. On Wednesday morning the Mayor of Ashton, Colonel C.R. Wainwright, T.D., D.L. received a communication that Major Archbutt had died from heart failure at the age of 54 years. This brief announcement, which was received by cablegram, elicited expressions of regret in military and social circles in Ashton, where Major Archbutt was well known and greatly respected. All admired the splendid patriotism and the spirit of self-sacrifice with which he volunteered for foreign service on behalf of his country’s cause when the war broke out, and all admired too, the genial personality and camaraderie of the man in civilian sense, and the cheerful fortitude with which he applied himself to the task in hand. He gave himself up whole heartedly to the cause, and thereby set an example to the rank and file of the battalion and to others which is worthy of emulation. Although not in the best of health when war broke out, he volunteered for foreign service, and readily placed himself at the disposal of the military authorities.
Major Archbutt was Gazetted 2nd Lieut. in the 3rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 30th July 1901. He was appointed first Lieutenant on 4th February 1903, Captain on 11th February 1905, and Major on 17th July 1913, on which date he was granted the field officers certificate. He qualified in musketry at Preston on 30th July 1904. He resided in Bramhall Lane, Stockport. For many years he was manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport.