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William Groundwater was born in the west end of Glasgow on 4th February 1992, to Helen (née Philips) and John Morrison Groundwater, a mercantile clerk, who was later to become secretary of The Glasgow School of Art. He had 3 younger sisters, Eva, Violet and Eleanor who died in infancy. At the age of 10, William commenced his studies at The Glasgow School of Art as a Saturday student in 1902. This continued until 1908 when he began to attend art school full time, initially taking classes in drawing and painting and subsequently in life drawing and modelling. His studies stopped in 1914 due to his war service. His younger sister, Eva, for a short time followed his path to The Glasgow School of Art as she took classes there in the 1915-16 session. William served as Company Quartermaster Sergeant with the Royal Engineers, Mesopotamian Force. He is likely to have been transferred to Mesopotamia with the 13th (Western) Division in late 1916 following action in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. The Gallipoli campaign was an attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia with huge losses of life suffered on all sides, both in battle and also from the dreadful conditions. Conditions were equally horrendous in Mesopotamia. This is understated in a letter to William's father, John Groundwater, secretary to The Glasgow School of Art, from Walter Davidson dated December 1916, which is held by Archives and Collections. Mr Davidson refers to his brother Tom Davidson, who is missing in action in Mesopotamia. He states he 'was very glad to hear about Willie only it is not a very desirable place that he is going to'. He also tells Mr Groundwater senior of the Regiment details of another brother in Mesopotamia in case William comes across him. William would have served in Mesopotamia about this time under General Maude who took charge of operations in late 1916 and led an organised campaign with some successes, after a campaign with humiliating defeats by his predecessor earlier in 1916. William survived the war but died at home in 1919 from septicaemia. He is buried in the Glasgow Western Necropolis. He is listed as a casualty of the First World War by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission although he is not buried in the WW1 area of the graveyard but in a family tomb with his little sister, Eleanor and his mother and father. William Groundwater is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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Sources: Scotland's People: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk; Ancestry: http://www.ancestry.co.uk, The National Archives: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk; CWGC: http://www.cwgc.org; Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org; The Long Trail: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk