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William was a Feniscowles lad born and bred but his Dad, Albert, had moved to here from Whitchurch and his Mum, Judith was a Darrener. He had two brothers, Albert and Thomas and two sisters Emily and Jane. He was born on the 29th March 1898 and baptized by the Rev. Gallaher here in Immanuel Church on the 24th April 1898. He first lived on Fernleigh and then moved into Laurel Bank Terrace on Moulden Brow when his Dad got a job in the Sun Paper Mill.

As in those days you had to pay to go to school he didn’t start at Feniscowles School until the 2nd of September 1907 when he was nine years old. He only stayed at the school until he was 13 when he left to go into domestic work, perhaps in the ‘Big Hall’. While he was at school, it was based in the lower hall, and while he was there the upper hall was added to the building. On a Sunday there would have been about 150 to 200 children at the Sunday school but this number dropped to about forty during the week.


World War One broke out when he was sixteen years old and at sometime later he went to Preston and signed up. Now you were supposed to be eighteen before you could join the army and nineteen before you could go overseas but it is well known that lots of underage boys joined up. Lots of the service records from WW1 were destroyed in WW2 so we don’t know when he joined up but we do know from his medal card that he served in two regiments, the King’s Liverpool and the 9th Btn Royal Welsh.


It was with the Royal Welsh, based in Wrexham that he went overseas to Belgium. How he joined them we have no idea but, as lots of regiments went from two or three peace time battalions to thirty or forty war time battalions, men were sent anywhere and everywhere they were needed.

Although they were based in Wrexham they did a lot of their training at Tidworth Camp on Salisbury Plain. These was a permanent camp, but as there was large numbers of men going through most of them were billeted in tents and when the rain came it soon turned in a quagmire, perhaps a foretaste of what was to come.


The 9th Battalion embarked at Southhampton and sailed to France and landed at Boulogne during July 1915. From there they moved up to the area of Le Croix Barbet which was just to the south of Ypres but in France. The different battalions would rotate and have several days on the front line and then maybe ten days in the rear where they would continue with training and getting equipment sorted out.


The 3rd battle of Ypres or what is more commonly know as Passchendaele was found from July to November 1917 with lots of attacks and counter attacks. This was fought on marshy, low lying ground that was turned into a sea of mud and most of the iconic pictures of the trenches and mud came from this area.


Below is an extract from the battalion diary from the 20th Sept.1917.

20th  Sept.  


Zero hour was at 5.40am. The battalion was in Brigade Reserve.  At 12.30 ‘B’ company reinforced the front line at Hessian Wood P.I.C.28

2.30pm ‘D’ coy. Reinforced front line on right of ‘B’ coy.

Btn. headquarters was established in IMPERFECT COPSE. I 36 with ‘C’ coy in reserve

These positions were held during the night.

21st Sept.

The battalion remained in the same position all night when the front line was readjusted and then handed over to the 56th Infantry Brigade.

The total casualties for the 20th and 21st were

Officers wounded 2/lieut H R Davies, 2/lieut N A Buck and Lieut J W Phillips

Other ranks     Killed 21 (including 7 died from wounds)

                           Wounded 73

                           Missing 12


If this all seems a bit callious but you have to remember that these death were on only one day and during the 3rd Battle for Ypres there was a total of 857,100 dead or wounded.

William was one of the 21 killed on the 20th and his body was never found. He is recorded on the Tyne Cot  Memorial near Ypres one of the 33,783 men from the British Forces in this area, who’s bodies were never found. 1176 New Zealanders are also recorded there. He is on Panel 93/94E.

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