William Vivian Oddy

William Vivian Oddy was born in Leeds, Yorkshire on 28 January 1886.

He was the only son of William and Sarah Emma Oddy of 71 Meadow Lane, Leeds.

His father, William Oddy was a shopkeeper and hardware dealer. He died in 1909.

Vivian obtained an external B.Sc. degree at London University in 1912.

From 1907 to 1911 he was Assistant Science Master at The Grammar School, Dorchester, Dorset. In 1910 he was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the Territorial Force with the Dorchester Grammar School Contingent, Junior Division, Officers Training Corps.

He taught Science at Bolton Church Institute from 10 April 1913 to 14 April 1916 at a salary of £120 a year and was also Scoutmaster of the School’s troop.

Oddy family tree - pdf

William's War

William attested on 12 May 1916, joining the Royal Engineers as a Pioneer.

He was posted to "P" Special Company of the Royal Engineers, which was a Cylinder Company, with responsibility for the handling of poison gas discharge from cylinders against the enemy.

Large numbers of chemists and chemical engineers were recruited to this and similar companies. Initally, they were responsible for producing large-scale gas cloud attacks.

Cylinders were carried into the trenches, a laborious and difficult problem. Later in the war, light railways were used to carry large numbers of cylinders close to the front line. The cylinders would be discharged from the wagons.

William was killed on 6 May 1917 with a party of others from the company who are all buried at Beaulencourt, south of Bapaume.

His Service Record describes him as being 5' 7" tall and of 'fair' physical development.

His effects, forwarded to his mother after his death were:

Shaving Strop
Note Book
Testament and Card
Shaving Brush
Cigarette Case
Pair of Scissors
2 Titles
3 Pipes
2 handkerchiefs
1 Razor
3 Packets of Views


Bolton Journal and Guardian
18 May 1917

News has been received of the death on the Western Front of Pioneer WILLIAM VIVIAN ODDY B.Sc. He was one of a party of Engineers engaged in special work and the whole group was killed by a shell. Mr. Oddy was one of the masters at the Church Institute School under the Rev. J. E. Kent, the Principal. There he had taught the science class for about three years. He joined the King’s forces just about a year ago, and was attached, it is believed, to the special section of the Royal Engineers for scientific men. He was Scoutmaster of the Church Institute Troop, which he organised and managed, and was exceedingly popular with the boys – Scouts and others. He was also honorary parochial lay reader at St. Barnabas’ Church, and a member of the choir, greatly esteemed by all who knew him. In a letter to the Vicar (the Rev. J. F. Heyes, M.A.), as it turns out on the day before he was killed, he wrote: “Generally, things indicate that we shall be in this camp some time, as the cooks have rigged up an oven and fire-places, so that now, from time to time we get roast instead of the eternal stew for dinner every day, a change you welcome after having stew for dinner every day (with few exceptions) for the thick end of a year.” A memorial service will be held in St Barnabas’ Church, Thomas Holden-st. on Sunday morning next.



William Vivian Oddy

William Vivian Oddy

Pioneer: 167365

"P" Special Company
Royal Engineers

Born: Leeds, Yorkshire 28 January 1886

Died: France 6 May 1917

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