Names W to Z

Wade, William Thomas

Private 81645 William Thomas Wade, from Leicester, was reported missing in action 29 May 1918, and is commemorated Soissons Memorial. His service records have not survived. Wade was probably a conscript and may have spent time with 11 DLI. However, his medal index card indicates that he was later assigned to the York and Lancaster Regiment. He was probably with the YLR when he was killed in the German May 1918 Offensive in the Soissons sector. However, ‘Soldiers Died’ gives him as 15th DLI and formerly 33874 Leicestershire Regiment. Based on a record in the 1911 Census he was probably the eldest son of William Reason and Mary Blanche Wade of 75 Prospect Hill, Leicester. Mr Wade was a fireman on the Midland Railway and his son was aged 11, born circa 1900. He would have been barely 18 at the time of his death.

Waites, John G

Private 16871 John G Waites of Hartlepool was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette, 19 March 1918. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He probably survived the war and was demobilised, though there is a query to this effect on his medal index card. He was almost certainly the John George Waites aged 15 in the 1911 Census living with his parents, Joseph and Mary Ellen Waites, at 9 Albert Street, Hartlepool, with one older and five younger siblings. He was then working as a labourer, probably on the docks like his father.

Walker, William

Private 16204 William Walker of Newcastle was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette, 18 October 1917 and rose to the rank of Corporal. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He survived the war, demobilised Class Z. He returned to Tyneside after the war and resumed working in the pits, at The Rising Sun Colliery, Wallsend. He died of lung disease in the mid-1950s. [Thanks to his grandson for the information about his later life.] The Rising Sun Colliery was opened in 1906 and closed in April 1969. The site is now a country park, where people can breathe free.

Citation for Military Medal for William Walker

Walton, Isaac

Private 21346 Isaac Walton, from Wheatley Hill, died of wounds 27 August 1916, and is buried at Carnoy Military Cemetery. His service records have not survived and there is only minimal information in CWGC records. He was born Easington, enlisted West Hartlepool and resident at Wheatley Hill. His medal index card indicates that he qualified for the 1914-15 Star, joining his unit in France on 17 August 1915. At this time several batches of men were arriving from the training battalions, 16 & 17 DLI based at Rugeley, Staffordshire.

In the 1911 Census records there are several Durham men with the name Isaac Walton who would have been of the correct age to serve in the war. There is only one with a connection to the Wheatley Hill area, and this is the most likely candidate. In 1911, Isaac Walton, 32, coal miner hewer, born South Hetton, was living at 7 Alexandra Street, Ludworth. His wife, Mary, aged 28 was born in Ludworth, and they had been married for nine years. They had two sons, Lancelot (8) and John (6). Living with them was Maraget [sic] Walton Hird, aged 10, described as sister-in-law. Her correct name was Margaret Walton Hird, born Sunderland 1901 [GRO Ref Apr-Jun 1901, Sunderland 10a 769]. Isaac Walton married Mary Hird in Sunderland in 1902 [GRO Ref Oct-Dec 1902, Sunderland 10a 1015], which probably indicates that Margaret was their daughter, born before they were married, or was an illegitimate daughter of Mary Hird, adopted by Isaac.

Ward, Alexander Ivan

Alexander Ivan Ward went out with 11 DLI at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on 20 July 1915, rising to the rank of Captain. He was mentioned in despatches 4 January 1917, while still at the lower rank, probably for actions on the Somme. His medal index card indicates that he was also listed for the Silver War Badge on 14 May 1919. He applied for medals 13 April 1922 from an address at 13 Princes Square, Harrogate. In the 1911 Census he was listed as a dental surgeon aged 25 living with his brother Ronald Francis Campbell Ward, 35, sister Florence Ellis Ward, 32, and servants at 8 Ripon Road, Harrogate.

Wardle, Humphrey Mansel

Humphrey Mansel Ward first went overseas on 12 April 1916 to join 11 DLI at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He later transferred to 1st DLI, Indian Army at the rank of Lieutenant. He applied for his medals on 20 March 1920 from an address at Castle Square, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham. Born in Bishop Auckland, in 1911 he was boarding at the Grammar School aged 14 at Crossgates Durham.

Warnock, Joseph

Private 21545 Joseph Warnock, labourer, was reported missing in action, 30 November 1917 on the first day of the German counter-attack at Cambrai. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval. He served with C Company. According to ‘Soldiers Died’ he previously served as S2267, Royal Berkshire Regiment. His medal index card does not indicate this, though there is a pencilled entry dated 26 November 1920 indicating possible entitlement to the 1915 Star and questioning the spelling of his surname. However, his service records have survived. He was born in Glasgow c 1893 and enlisted in Sheffield on 7 September 1914 aged 21. He stood 5ft 8ins, weighed 128 lbs, with a 35½ in chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He professed Church of England and had a birthmark (location on document faded). He was unmarried and made no allotment of pay, and in 1916 signed a form to continue claiming the extra 2d a day allotted to Pioneers. He went initially to Winchester where he signed as a rifleman in the Rifle Brigade (not the Berkshires). His record with them was clean, but on 5 February 1915, when 11 DLI had been allocated as Pioneers, he was transferred to serve with C Company. His conduct remained clean and he went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.

He suffered a bout of scabies on 18 May 1916 and was shipped between 50 CCS and 60 FA before returning to duty on 24 May. On 27 August 1916 he received a wound to the left leg and was sent via 43 FA and 34 CCS to 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne. It was not a ‘blighty’ wound and on 29 October 1916 he went via 28 Ambulance Train to No 3 Rest Camp. From 12 November 1916 he was at 3 Convalescent Depot at Étaples, where he was classified ‘A’ fitness and on 4 December transferred to 35 Infantry Base Depot, Étaples. By 13 December he was back with his unit. He went on leave to England from 23 August 1917 to 2 September 1917. He was reported missing on 30 December 1917.

As his body was never found, there was no pay book and no will, and no pension was issued. However, after the war, his medals were shared between his sisters, Mrs Jane Hyde aged 41 of 9b (or 96) Anderson Street, Motherwell and Elizabeth Cunningham aged 31 of 196 Langside Road (?), Glasgow. The receipt for the Victory Medal was clearly marked as their “equal property”. In the records there is a letter from Mrs Hyde complaining that, although she had long since received the certificate issued to the next of kin of deceased soldiers, she had not received the bronze plaque. To which letter she got the ‘stock reply’ saying that plaques were the responsibility of the government factory making them. Not much help there, then! Given the various issues with Mrs Hyde’s correct address, it may well have gone astray.

Watson, George Edwin

Private 376028 George Edwin Watson, aged 22, from Nottingham, was reported missing in action 23 March 1918 during the German Offensive, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. According to ‘Soldiers Died’ he had previously served as 53868 East Yorkshire Regiment, though his medal index card does not show this. His widow was Mrs S.L. Watson.

Watson, John

Private 24144 John Watson went out with 11 DLI to France on 20 July 1915, having enlisted on 28 August 1914. He was discharged with the Silver War Badge on 30 March 1918, probably badly wounded during the March Retreat. There are references on his medal index card to his campaign medals being returned – the 1914-15 Star on 14 February 1921 and the British War Medal and Victory Medal in May 1922.

Webb, Harry James

Lance Corporal 21524 Harry James Webb, blacksmith aged 25, from Oxford, died of wounds 4 November 1915, and is buried in Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery.

He enlisted at Oxford on 3 December 1914, aged 24 years, blacksmith, 5ft 4 in tall and 38 in chest. He was the youngest son out of three brothers and four sisters to George Harvey Webb and Alice Webb of 9 Isis Street, Oxford. At the time of the 1911 census he was a blacksmith with the Thames Conservancy, aged 20. His father and younger brother worked for Oxford Corporation as a road foreman and check weighman respectively. Three younger sisters also lived at home.

He was originally enlisted as 4/16645 in the 6th Ox & Bucks Light Infantry at Oxford on 3 December 1914, also with 20th Light Division. He was probably transferred when 11 DLI was designated as a Pioneer Battalion for the Division in January 1915, because of his skilled trade. On 1 March 1915 he was made Lance Corporal. On 23 April 1915, at Lark Hill, he was severely reprimanded for being absent from ration drawing. He served with D Company and went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. On 4 November 1915, at 26 Field Ambulance, at 3.40 a.m. he died of wounds. At the time, 11 DLI were taking a turn in the front line at Rue du Paradis, Laventie, relieving 12 KRRC.

Welch, Thomas

Private 16653 Thomas Welch, miner aged 44 from West Stanley, died of wounds 9 September 1916, and is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. He served with B Company. He was the son of William and Mary Blaydon and husband of Elizabeth Welch of 5 Henry Street, Burns Square, West Stanley. In the 1911 Census he was the Thomas Welch, aged 39, collier hewer, at 8 West Street, Tanfield Lea with his wife Elizabeth and eight surviving children out of nine born in their seventeen year marriage. His service records have survived, though damaged in parts.

He enlisted Consett 26 August 1914, stating his age as 30 – he was actually 42. He was 5ft 7in, weighed 163 lbs, chest 39 ins, dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was listed as C of E, though another record declares him to be Presbyterian. His wife was Elizabeth, née Coxon, whom he had married at Lanchester RO on 21 July 1894. There was one minor incident during training when he overtsayed his pass at Lark Hill from 26-30 April 1915, was awarded 7 days FP No 2 and lost 4 days’ pay. There were more serious offences while in France. He was deprived 14 days pay on 30 June 1916 (when the battalion was based at Brandhoek doing normal trench work) and 21 days pay on 4 August 1916 (by which time the battalion was based at The Dell on the Somme front and doing normal trench work). There is no record of these offences in the FGCM registers, and the papers do not indicate the charges, though they would appear from the punishment to be quite serious. Immediately after the expiry of the last of these punishments he was recorded as being wounded in the head on 26 August 1916, taken to 34 CCS and transferred by 19 Ambulance Train to 9 General Hospital at Rouen, where he died on 9 September 1916, gsw to head with fracture. At the time of his injury, the battalion were doing night-time trench work in preparation for the attack on Guillemont.

Mrs Welch received a pension of 27s 0d for herself and the five children still of school age at home, dated from 5 March 1917. She wrote on 6 March 1917 asking whether they authorities could find the watch and chain and some photos among Welch’s possessions and in the letter she remarks that he ‘walked into the hospital, so he would have had them with him’. The effects were returned on 29 October 1917, including badge, belt, knife, postcards, photos and watch and case. Mrs Welch signed the receipt, but also included a short letter of thanks for returning the items to her. There were ten children in all. Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Kate and John were too old to qualify as dependents, while Margaret, Susannah, Esther, Herbert and William ranged from age 14 to infant born 1916. The last born was probably never seen by father.

West, Christopher

Private 375392 Christopher West enlisted 21 July 1915 and was discharged 5 November 1918, awarded the Silver War Badge, aged 23. Nothing further is known.

Whatling, Lee Samson

Private 76814 Lee Samson Whatling, aged 27, was wounded 22 December 1917 and died 23 December. He is buried in Outtersteene Communal Cemetery.

He enlisted in Colchester 7 June 1916, aged 26, laundry worker, married, 5ft 9½ tall, 35½ chest – address 29 Fairfax Road (later 30), Colchester. He was allocated to the Royal Engineers, as Sapper 185754 and, on 30 August 1916 attended at Chatham for tests that showed him to be a skilled plasterer. He continued training with the RE, but on being sent to France on 16 September 1917, he was allocated to 11 DLI, joining the unit on 1 October.

On 22 December 1917            he was admitted to No 2 CCS, where he died of wounds to the face, arm and left thigh, the following day.

His personal effects were returned: letters, photos, pocket book, wallet, fountain pen in case, cap badge, purse, 2 tunes ink pellets, 2 titles, coin, franc note (mutilated).

The widow was Florence Emily Whatling (née Warden), married 25 December 1913. There were no children. So where she had been paid an allowance of 19s 6d, this was converted to a pension of 13s 9d. His parents were: James and Lydia Whatling, with brothers James Lee Whatling, George Lee Whatling, of Ipswich and four sisters.

Whitfield, Hubert John Edward

Private 76343 Hubert John Edward Whitfield arrived in France with 11 DLI on 12 December 1916. He later transferred to the RAF where he attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He applied for his medals on 15 March 1920, originally from an address at The Red House, Castle Street, Tayport, Fife in Scotland, but had the medals sent c/o Miss Hinchcliffe, 67 Thornbury Drive, Bradford.

Wilkes, George Edward                   Pte 81873

Private George Edward Wilkes died of wounds, aged 18, 30 May 1918 and is buried at Étaples Military Cemetery.

He enlisted as a conscript in Wolverhampton on 30 October 1917, aged 17 yrs 11 months. He was a fitter’s assistant, the son of George James and Flora Wilkes, of 124 Alma Street, Wolverhampton – the eldest with 4 younger brothers and 3 sisters. He stood 5ft 6in, with a 34 in chest. He was mobilised immediately on 30 October 1917. On 4 December 1917 he was allocated to the 4th West Riding Regiment. When he was sent overseas on 1 April 1918, he was allocated initially to 1/7th West Riding Regiment, but four days later was transferred to 11 DLI, which was refitting after being decimated during the German March Offensive.

On 30 May 1918 he died of wounds at 26 General Hospital, almost certainly the victim of a night-time gas attack on 27 May. His personal effects were returned, comprising letters, photos, waist belt, 2 cigarette cases, match box holder, cap badge, wallet.

Wilkinson, Harry      Harry Wilkinson was originally a Quarter-Master Sergeant, WO Class II, going out to France with one of the Territorial or Regular Battalions of the DLI on 19 April 1915. He was later promoted Lieutenant and Quarter Master with 11 DLI in which capacity he was awarded the Military Cross, London Gazette 3 June 1919. This appears to be rather a late award after the battalion had disbanded and it is by no means clear to what it relates. His post-war address was 4 Percy Street, Cockton Hill, Bishop Auckland.

Wilkinson, Herbert

Private 18584 Herbert Wilkinson died of wounds on 13 November 1917, and is buried in Rocquigny-Équancourt Road British Cemetery.

He enlisted in West Hartlepool, 29 August 1914, born Stranton, West Hartlepool, aged 22 yrs 144 days, docks labourer, 5ft 5 ¾ in tall , 124 lbs, 33½ in chest, fresh complexion, blue eyes, light hair, C of E, tattoos on left hand. He was allocated directly to 11 DLI.

On 11 January 1917 he reported to 60 FA with VD sores, and was sent to 2/2 London CCS, then via 5 Ambulance Train to I. S. Hospital, from 15 January to 9 February 1917. On 22 February 1917 he was transferred to 35 Infantry Base Depot, Étaples and returned to his unit on 3 March 1917. On 13 November he died of wounds at 48 CCS. At that time, the battalion was working on filling craters and clearing roads in preparation for the attack at Cambrai. He was probably the victim of the general problem of constant shelling.

Post war correspondence was sent to Mrs L Wilkinson, 5 Bourne Road, West Hartlepool, most probably his mother.

Williams, Frederick

Sergeant 15180 Frederick Williams of B Company was awarded the Médaille Militaire in November 1915 having excelled himself ‘with good work in the trenches and in front of the parapet’ on the Laventie front. He later rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major and on 4 April 1917 was interviewed as a candidate for a commission and sent back to England. Nothing further known.

Willingham, John Turner

Private 52624 John Turner Willingham, aged 38, died of wounds on 30 March 1918, and is buried in Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension.

He enlisted in Hull, (date not clear, possibly 1915 under the Derby scheme or early 1916 as a conscript). He was aged 37 years 7 months, 5ft 7 in, 36½ in chest, a glazier living at 62 Estcourt Street, Hull. He had married to Gertrude (née Rudiger) 25December 1902, with children Phyllis Amelia, Violet and Leonard.

On 5 August 1916 he was mobilised as Private 26750 in the East Yorkshire Regiment. On 9 September 1916 he was in training with a Training Reserve Battalion and on 9 December 1916 was sent overseas to join 22 DLI. He was admitted to 15 CRS on 3 March 1917 with myalgia and on 18 March was sent back to England via the hospital ship Formosa, attached to DLI Depot. By 20 June 1917 he was at Ripon depot and on 17 September 1917 was sent to IBD Étaples en route for 11 DLI.

On 29 March 1918 he was reported missing after the attempt to retake Mézières during the German March Offensive. A German list reported that he had died on 30 March 1918 of wounds to the abdomen. His widow, Mrs Gertrude Willingham of 62 Estcourt Road, New Bridge Street, Hull, was awarded a pension of 29s 7d from 16 December 1918. A disc returned to the widow in 1923 – she wrote to the WO querying the long delay in receiving any effects – the disc itself was listed as ‘damaged’. This was probably all the German authorities returned, as evidence of his capture and death.

Wilson, Albert

Private 17467 Albert White, aged 26, was killed in action 3 September 1916, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

He enlisted at Stanley, 26 August 1914, aged 22 yrs 4 months. He was a miner, 5ft 4ins, 136 lbs, 36¼ in chest, fresh complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, C of E, tattoos on hands and right forearm. He was immediately allocated to 11 DLI.

There were minor infringements during training. On 15 March 1915 at North Chapel he was given two days confined to barracks for smoking on parade. On 26 April 1915 at Lark Hill he was admonished and fined 3 days’ pay for overstaying his pass to 30 April. He went overseas with the unit on 20 July 1915. On 3 September 1916 he was reported missing presumed dead. This was the first day of the successful attack on the strategic village of Guillemont.

War Office correspondence was to Mrs Hannah Hardman, 26 First Street, South Moor, Stanley – the oldest of two married sisters. The parents (John and Hannah Wilson) were deceased and there was one brother. Later correspondence requested that his medals be sent to the brother, John Wilson, on completion of his service as 27/1307 Northumberland Fusiliers.

Wilson, Ernest

Private 91036 Ernest Wilson, served as a witness at the Cunliffe Enquiry, 6 June 1918, though he was incorrectly listed as C. Wilson. He later transferred to 52nd DLI, as 66963.

Wilson, John

Private 3/10828 John Wilson, was killed in action 2 September 1916. There is no grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

He enlisted at Durham 11 August 1914 as a 6 year regular. He was born Lumley, Fence Houses, aged 25 yrs 3 months, hawker by trade, 5ft 8½ins, 145 lbs, 35½ in chest, grey eyes, brown hair, C of E. He was initially allocated to 3 DLI and then to 11 DLI, serving with C Company.

Minor infringements during training included overstaying his pass from 2 -3 January 1915 while at Pirbright, for which he lost a day’s pay. Again at Pirbright, he overstayed his pass from 31 January to 1 February 1915, lost a day’s pay and was confined to barracks for four days. He again got four days CB at Pirbright for leaving the rifle range without permission on 10 February 1915. He went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.

On 12 December 1915 he reported to 60 FA with dental caries and was sent to 4 General Hospital, St Omer for treatment. He went to IBD Étaples on 17 December, before going back to his unit on 16 January 1916. He reported sick to 61 FA with influenza on 19 February 1916 and received treatment at 20 DRS until 22 February 1916. On 2 September 1916 he was killed in action, probably from shell fire, the day before the battalion joined the attack on Guillemont.

War Office correspondence went to his father, Mr G Wilson, 141 Cross House, Middle Rainton, Fence Houses. There was some correspondence between York RO and 3rd Echelon to clarify and distinguish from another man of same name and number, but this does not seem to have caused any problems.

Wilson, John William

Private 15343 John William Wilson, from Brandon Colliery, was killed in action 7 October 1916, and is commemorated Thiepval Memorial. The battalion were working on trenches in the vicinity of Trônes Wood at this time. Nothing further known.

Wilson, Thomas

Lance Corporal 17974 Thomas Wilson was killed in action 13 December 1916, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. D Company.

He enlisted at Consett 3 September 1914, born Iveston near Consett, 26 yrs 4 months, miner, next of kin Matthew Wilson, Rose Cottage, Iveston. He was 5ft 3½ins, 119 lbs, 37 in chest, sallow complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair, C of E. He was allocated to 11 DLI, serving with D Company.

While at Lark Hill on 30 April 1915 he got 4 days confined to barracks for disobeying an order. He got a further two days CB for being absent from tattoo on 9 May 1915, and a further four days for being absent from the defaulters’ roll call on 11 May. In July, date illegible, he overstayed his pass to 5 July, was deducted an amount of pay and sentenced to seven days FP No 2. He went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915.

On 18 October 1915 he reported to 62 FA with scabies. He received treatment for dental caries at 4 GH, St Omer, from 3-16 March 1916. On 25 October he was promoted unpaid Lance Corporal. He was away from the unit at 61 FA with bronchitis from 16-17 November 1916. On 13 December 1916 he was killed in action.

His parents were dead; there were five brothers, with one in Canada, so Matthew and John dealt with forms (John Wilson at 4 South Garesfield, Rowlands Gill).

Wilson, Thomas

Private 33236 Thomas Wilson, aged 35 and born Throckley, Northumberland, the son of Thomas and Margaret Wilson, was reported missing in action 1 December 1917, and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval.

He enlisted on 29 November 1915 under the Derby Scheme and was called up at Newcastle ,2 June 1916, aged 33 years 214 days, labourer, married, living at 341 Sunderland Road, Gateshead. He was  5ft 4ins tall, 108 lbs, 36 in chest, C of E, married to Nellie Tweedie Wilson (née Henderson), and had a son Edward born June 1915. After training he joined 11 DLI in France on 14 December 1916.

He was admitted on 15 January 1917 with dystentery and sent via 31 Ambulance Train on 23 January to 24 General Hospital, before being sent back to England on 27 January. Extensive tests between 16 March 1917 and 25 April 1917 showed him clear of infection and he was returned to unit after convalescence at Croydon. He rejoined 11 DLI in France on 18 July 1917. He was killed in action on 1 December 1917 during the German counter-attack at Cambrai.

His widow got pension of 20s 5d from 24June 1918 having previously been allocated allowances of 19s 6d. She was living at Old Bewick, Alnwick, after the war.

Wilson, William Peart

Corporal 53550 William Peart Wilson, aged 20, died of wounds on 23 September 1917, and is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Boezinge.

He enlisted at Bishop Auckland on 24 September 1915, aged 19 years 3 months, grocer, of 18 Freville Street, New Shildon. He was 5ft 5½ in, 122 lbs, 34 in chest. Unusually he gives his religion as Society of Friends (Quaker), though on a later form he is listed as Wesleyan. He was the son of William and Esther Wilson, with two brothers and a sister (same address, but later 14 Vaughan St, Old Shildon).

On 1 October 1915 he was allocated to 15 King’s Royal Rifle Corps, regimental number 15616. By 20 December he was acting Lance Corporal, by 28 April 1916 Corporal, by 1 July 1916 unpaid Lance Sergeant and on 4 August 1916 was made acting Sergeant. On 6 September 1916 he was transferred to 18 KRRC and on 27 December to 11 DLI, though he did not actually join the battalion until 27 January 1917, at which point he reverted to Corporal in B Company. He died of wounds at 61 FA on 29 September 1917, when the battalion were engaged in road repair work under heavy shelling on the bank of the Yser Canal near Ypres. The only personal effect returned to the family was his identity disc.

Woodcock, William

Private 53706 William Woodcock, aged 35, died of wounds 3 April 1918, and is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

He enlisted at Barnsley 28 September 1914, born St John’s Barnsley, 33 yrs 81 days, miner, married, had previously served with 3rd West Yorkshire Regiment and purchased his discharge. He was allocated to 13 York and Lancaster Regiment, Barnsley Pals, number 738.

On 1 December 1914 he got 72 hours detention for breaking out at Barnsley, getting drunk and assaulting an NCO on guard duty. Despite this on 30 July 1915 he was promoted Lance Corporal and on 27 November 1915 to Corporal. The battalion went overseas to Egypt on 20 December 1915 until 10 March 1916. They arrived in France on 11 March 1916.

On 6 July 1916, Woodcock was transferred to Y&L Depot Pontefract, with a wound to the head, from 23 GH. He stayed at North Evington Military Hospital, Leicester 6-13 July 1916. On 14 August 1915 he went to 15 Y&L at Newsham, which became the 91 Training Reserve Battalion on 1 September 1916. He was reprimanded on 13 December 1916 for overstaying his leave, and fined three days’ pay.

On 21 December 1916            he returned to the BEF, and was transferred to 12 DLI. On 8 February 1917 he was sent on to 11 DLI, still at the rank of Corporal. On 10 June 1917 he reverted at his own request to Private. On 1 April 1918 he received a wound to the head, was transferred to the major hospital at Rouen, where he died on 18 April 1918.

His widow Maud Woodcock, Spring Gardens, Mapplewell, with no children, received the basic pension of 13s 9d.

Wray, George Holland

Private 53572 George Holland Wray, was reproted missing in action 23 March 1918, and is  commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

He enlisted at Chelsea 28 February 1916, as a conscript, and was mobilised 11 May 1916, aged 18 yrs 151 days, a motor driver of 59 Upcere Road, Chelsea. He stood 5ft 7¼ ins, 34 in chest, scar centre of forehead near root of nose. His next of kin was Mrs Anna Wray, his mother, and she was given 7s 6d allotment of pay (she died and later correspondence was with his father, Mr David Wray – there were three brothers, one in Royal Navy and one in the Army).

He was allocated to Depot, Kings Royal Rifle Corps, as Rifleman 23399 and went to 15 KRRC for training on 16 May 1916. On 4 July he was made unpaid Lance Corporal and on 1 September 1916 went to 18 Training Reserve Battalion. On 18 December 1916 he was paid Lance Corporal and on 22 December went via Folkestone to Boulogne, from where he was allocated to 11 DLI. He set off on 20 January 1917, arriving two days later, where he promptly reverted to Private, serving with D Company.

On 23 March 1918 he was reported missing, presumed killed in action, in the ealry stages of the German March Offensive.

Wrigglesworth, Charles L

Private 60469 Charles L Wrigglesworth enlisted with Training Reserve, probably as a conscript, and became Acting Colour Sergeant 46168 when serving with 11 DLI. Nothing further is known.

Yates, John

Lance Corporal 23/112 John Yates, died aged 21, reported missing in action 31 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

He enlisted at North Shields, 17 November 1915, aged 19 yrs 8 months, fruiterer, 5 Yeoman St, North Shields, the son of Robert and the late Ellen Yates, from a family of five brothers and four sisters. Measured 5ft 1½, 34 in chest, 110 lbs. His father was a ship’s rigger, probably in the fishing industry – his mother, Ellen, was born in Lowestoft. He was allocated to 23 DLI, a Training Reserve Battalion.

On 5 March 1916 he embarked at Folkestone to join 19 DLI (Bantams) on 27 March 1916. On 9 April he reported to 106 FA with scabies, and again on 20 April to 107 FA with the same problem, but returned to duty each time. He was in hospital on 18 May 1916, probably with the same complaint. On 10 October 1916 he was wounded and went bia 106 FA, through 37 CCS to 42 General Hospital. He was sent to England on 17 October 1916 via the Hospital Ship Lanfranc. He arrived at Leicester Military Hospital on 19 October, where he was treated for general shot wounds to the right arm and foot. During recovery he was sent to the reserve battalion at Rugeley, where he was twice absent from parade – getting seven days CB on 11 January and three days CB on 17 January 1917.

On 25 January 1917 he arrived at 35 IBD Étaples and was sent back to 19 DLI. On 14 February 1917 he was deprived seven days pay, no reason recorded. On 21 February he was sent to 12 DLI, arriving 27 February. He was attached to 1 Australian Transport Company, Royal Engineers on 4 April 1917. On 3 May 1917 he was sent to 10 Stationary Hospital, St Omer and then 14 General Hospital, Wimereux, suffering from ‘NYD – orchitis’ (inflammation of skin on testis). He went to Étaples on 21 May and from there to England via Hospital Ship St David on 29 May 1917.

On 15 December 1917 he returned to France as Lance Corporal to 14 DLI. When 14 DLI was disbanded he was sent on 9 February 1918 to 11 DLI, still as Lance Corporal. On 31 March 1918 he was killed in action serving with D Company, repelling German attacks and counter-attacking from a hill south-east of Thennes, on the final day before 11 DLI were relieved from the line during the German March Offensive.

The only item of personal effects returned was his identity disc, which suggests that he was either left or buried briefly where he fell. His body may have been recovered later and re-buried, possibly as one of the 96 unidentified soldiers at Moreuil Community Cemetery Allied Extension, where Sergeant Thomas Bonney, who was killed the same day, is buried.

Youll, Matthew

Private 38575 Matthew Youll was reported missing in action 24 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

The surviving service records are incomplete and faded, but suggest that Youll signed up on 10 December 1915 and was called up 22 August 1916. He was born Shotton, aged 39 yrs 2 months, and was the licenced victualler of the Queen’s Head Inn, Thornley, near Wheatley Hill. He measured 5ft 8in, weighed 168 lbs, and had a 39 inch chest. [The public house is still there on Hartlepool Street North].

Following training he went out to France on 10 January 1917 via 35 IBD Étaples, from where was assigned originally to 20 DLI. On 8 February 1917 he was transferred to 11 DLI, arriving 10 February 1917, and served with 16 Platoon, D Company. On 2 July 1917 there is a faded record of a misdemeanour in the Company Office for which he was awarded four days confined to barracks. On 8 September 1917 his wife Hannah Mary died aged 35 of neuritis and cardiac failure. Her father Mr J Welch registered the death. Youll was allowed home on 4 October 1917 for one week.

On 24 March 1918 he was reported missing presumed killed in action, along with most of D Company, near Villeselve during the German March Offensive.

As a result of the death of his wife, contact was made with Mr G Welch of The Queen Head Inn, Hartlepool St, Thornley, who was his wife’s brother. Mrs Welsh (sister in law) wrote 30 January 1919 to say that the family were concerned that they had heard nothing about him since 24 March 1918. They had written to the Red Cross in Switzerland but were unable to learn anything more:

“We never had word from him since 24 March 1918 in the Retreat. We have wrote to Switzerland they cant give us any news. If you can give us any gleam of hope whatever about him seeing that the Prisoners are returning home every day, we thought you would give us a little news about our dear brother. Oblige Yours, Gibson Youll, Queens Head Inn, Thornley Colliery.”

The reply on 4 March 1919 was in the form of an official typed form stating that he was now presumed dead. Mrs Elizabeth Jane Lister, Youll’s aunt, supplied family details to the War Office. [She may have mistakenly put ‘aunt’ on the form as she was more likely aunt to Matthew’s son]. A pension of 10s 0d per week was paid for the son, who was in the guardianship of George Veitch, grocer, Hartlepool Street, Thornley.

The 1901 Census records Matthew Youll as the son of the widow Margrett Youll, licensee of the Queens Head, Thornley aged 66. There were three sons, all working in the mines: William aged 44 was a stoneman, Matthew aged 24 and Gibson aged 22 were both hewers. Elizabeth Jane Welch aged 14 was listed as a servant. Matthew’s future wife, Hannah, was the 18 year old daughter of miner James Welch at 94 Dyke Street, and worked as a bootshop assistant. George Veitch was a grocer’s manager at Hartlepool Street, Thornley.

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3 thoughts on “Names W to Z

  1. Walker, William

    Private 16204 William Walker of Newcastle was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette, 18 October 1917 and rose to the rank of Corporal. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He survived the war, demobilised Class Z. Nothing further known.

    My grandad returned to Newcastle and resumed his mining at The Rising Sun Colliery Wallsend, Tyneside. He died in the middle fifties of miners lung ( gassed?) when I was about 10 or 11. My dad was born in early 1915… so William must have been home in 1914. Dad joined in 1939/45 and I joined in 1963/86. My son has followed and is at present in the services…four generations no less over the past 100 years!.

    • Thanks for the additional information about William Walker. It is hard to get information about most of the survivors, so contacts like this are vital. He may very well have suffered from the effects of gas, though obviously not badly enough to have been invalided out. There was certainly gas around when the battalion were at Ypres, during the March Retreat in 1918 and later at the Lens-Avion sector, where 11 DLI were also involved in delivering it to the enemy. A good thing it was banned afterwards, though not before it had been used in various colonial exploits in Africa and the Middle East. More likely I think that mining was the cause of the lung problems. I will amend the entry to include your added information.

  2. Isaac Walton, died of wounds 27th August 1916 (my Great Uncle). Just a line to confirm that the information you have is correct. He is also named on the Wheatley Hill War memorial. Regards, Paul Walton

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