William Frederick F. Venner, K.E. was the only son of Councillor W. J. D. Venner, of Lismore, London Road and the only grandson of Mr A. Fouracre of Elmcroft, Taunton. Mr A Fouracre was a licensed victualler and beer seller. He was educated at Lord Weymouth’s Grammar School, Warminster. According to the school website the word ‘Grammar’ was used because the teaching focused on Greek and Latin grammar. The word was dropped from the name only in the mid-1950s.
He joined the family business of Messrs. M. Venner and Sons in Southampton Street [though the M in the name stood for Martha, his grandmother] and had been there for two years when, at the start of 1915, he joined the first company of Royal Engineers, which was formed at Wantage Hall, Reading, by the Deputy-Mayor (Mr. Leonard G. Sutton). He served there between three to four months and became motorcyclist corporal. He was described as a ‘a smart soldier and should do well in the Army’. He quickly obtained commission and was appointed at the Hants Regiment, but subsequently rejoined the Royal Engineers, and given the position of officer commanding the 49th Motor Air Line Section.
Whilst, at school William was the head of the School Rifle Corps, and took a great interest in the St. Giles’ Football club, which he helped to set up.
He died of malaria fever in Mikesse, Dar-es-Salaam, German East Africa on December 5th 1916. He was 23 years old. He was 2nd Lieutenant for the 13th Battalion Hampshire Regiment attached to the Royal Engineers, Division 35. His obituary describes him as a ‘gallant officer, …who had he been spared would undoubtedly have done extremely well in life’ (Reading Mercury, Saturday 16th December 1916).
More information about William F. F. Venner can be found on War Graves in Reading Old Cemetery
Buried in Section 35, Row B, Plot 29