war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


William Sharp


William Sharp, courtesy Dover Express, in his first world war daysWilliam Sharp was born in Chapel Lane, Dover, in 1893. He was one of the eight children - five boys (Albert, William, Fred, Sydney, Steven) and three girls - of Albert, a Dover Harbour Board tug mate, and Alice Sharp. The family later moved to Albany Place, and William attended St Mary's school before becoming an apprentice pastry cook at Igglesden and Graves, in the Market Square. He had also worked at Mills the baker's, at Snargate Street.

When he was 17 he joined the army, and with the 4th battalion of the Rifle Brigade went to India. During the Great War he fought at Ypres, William Sharp's grave, courtesy Dave Dixonwhere his brother Edward Sydney Sharp was lost. William survived, and worked on a barge between Richborough and Calais, bringing home war surplus stores.

In Calais he met Germaine Delaplace, and they married in 1919. Their first daughter Doris (below left), was born in 1921. For a while the family lived in Dover, but then they went to Calais, where they ran a cafe. In 1936 William became a naturalised Frenchman, and when war broke out he became part of the Resistance, sabotaging rocket installations and passing on messages.

But he was betrayed and in 1942 the Gestapo broke into his cafe and arrested him. Determined to extract details of the Calais resistance, they beat him and kicked his face. He refused to give information, and also used only French; thus his English identity was concealed during his imprisonment. Then, aged 50, he was Doris, his daughter, and Fred, his brother, courtesy Daniel Collarddragged out into the street with four comrades - Pierre, Marcel, Henri, and Alphonse. Together, defiant to the end, they sang "La Marseillaise" as they were shot.   

After the liberation his body was exhumed and taken back to Calais to be buried with full military honours. St Mary's Old Boys used Rue William Sharp, road sign in Calais, photo by Mike and Carole Webbto visit his grave. In 1963 a road in Calais was named in his honour, and in 1994/5, along with other members of the Resistance, he was posthumously awarded a medal.

The words on William Sharp's gravestone read:
William Sharp, Shot at Bondues, Nord, on 27 August 1943 at the age of 50 years

Information kindly supplied by Terry Sutton and Kathleen and Bob Hollingsbee
Grave picture by courtesy of Dave Dixon
above, daughter Doris with Fred, William's brother, standing by the "Rue William Sharp" sign, courtesy Daniel Collard

Post Script - In August 2014 one option in a poll created by the Dover Express for the naming of a new Dover hospital  was  "The William Sharp Hospital".

Copyright 2006-14 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved