Victor Francis Willis
Acting Sergeant, King’s Royal Rifles
Age 10, Class I Lower: 'Captain of Form. Good worker, sometimes first; good writer.'
Victor Francis Willis was a student at Alleyn’s until 1909. He lived at 102 Mitcham Lane, Streatham with his parents, Francis and Gale, and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Janet. He was employed as a drapery manager before he decided to join the war effort in May 1916. After being attested, he joined the King’s Royal Rifles and left England for service overseas at the start of 1917. Victor saw service in France during his time with the Rifles and took part in the major British operations at Arras and Cambrai in 1917. During these operations, he continually displayed his commitment to duty and his bravery in the field in the face of the enemy. These qualities earned him a promotion to the rank of Corporal in February 1917. In March 1918, German’s launched their deadly Spring Offensive on the Western Front. This was a time of chaos and confusion on the frontline as the British struggled to hold off the force of the German attack. It was during this time that Victor received a gunshot wound to the leg and went Missing in Action. He was later confirmed as a Prisoner of War at Wittenberg Prisoner of War Camp, a place known for its severe lack of resources and unsanitary conditions. Despite these tough circumstances, Victor managed to survive the war and he returned home safely to England in January 1919. For his wartime service, he was awarded the British War Medal.