Engine Room Artificer 5th Class M300036, Royal Navy
Born: 9 February 1898
Enlisted: 22 March 1918
Discharged: 19 March 1920
Died: February 1982
Willetts was born in Campden, the eldest son of Lewis Hadley and Muriel Jesse Horne of Leysbourne, Campden, and was baptised at St. James’s Church on 12 April 1898. His father was a farmer and coal merchant and during the First World War he served in France with the Gloucestershire Regiment. His mother was the daughter of Julius and Isabelle Neve.
Willetts was educated at Campden Grammar School and at a public school in Horsham in Sussex. During his time as a schoolboy in Campden he was a mascot with “H” Company, 5th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, the local company of the Territorial Army, and went away on some of their annual camps.
When war was declared he was only 16 years old and it was not until he reached the age of 20 that he enlisted in the Royal Navy on 22 March 1918.
The medical examination recorded that he was five feet seven inches tall, with blue eyes and scars on his right wrist and right calf. After being passed fit for service he was posted to HMS Pembroke, a depot in Chatham, as an engine room artificer fifth class. He transferred to HMS Superb on 22 June 1918 and remained on the ship until he was discharged on 19 March 1920. On 9 February 1919 he was promoted to acting engine room artificer fourth class.
After the war Willetts began an apprenticeship with the Great Western Railway Company in Swindon but soon left the country to spend ten years jute farming in Assam. On his return he found employment with the British Can Company in Acton, London and met his future wife, who was working as the company nurse. The Metal Box Company Limited then bought the company and Willetts became the manager and technical consultant, a post he held for 30 years.
He moved to Chadbury in 1934 to manage the Worcestershire dealings of the Metal Box Company and he retired in 1963.
Willetts married Emily Stephenson and they had four children: Jessie, Ruth Isobel, Robert Peter and Margaret Mabel. He died at his home, The Bungalow, Chadbury, in February 1982 aged 83 years and his ashes are buried in St. James’s churchyard in Campden. His wife died on 8 January 1947.