William HALLWORTH
Rank: Private
Number: 40358
Unit: D Company, 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 22 March 1918
Age: 34
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

William was the son of David and Annis Hallworth and was born in Hazel Grove about 1884. In 1901, when the census was taken, the family was living at 39 Chapel Street and 54 year old David was working as felt hatter in a local factory. His two eldest sons, Allen and Joseph, followed the same employment. William, however, worked as a confectioner and his younger brother, David, as a clerk.

He worshipped at the local Wesleyan Chapel and, as a boy, had furthered his education as a member of the Young Men's Class at the Church Sunday School. In 1906, he married Sarah Poole in a civil ceremony at Stockport. The two of them lived at 13 Bramhall Moor Lane.

By 1917, William had changed jobs and was now also working in the hatting industry for C Royle & Sons Ltd of Adswood. He was conscripted into the army on 1 March 1917.

In November 1917, the German High Command agreed that a decisive strike must be made against what they believed were exhausted British forces in the spring of the following year. The proposed battle would take place on the Somme; the scene of heavy fighting in 1916.

On the day of the "Kaiserschlacht" (Kaiser's Battle), 21 March 1918, the South Lancashires were in huts in a reserve camp at Logeast Wood (near the village of Biefvillers). In the early hours of the morning, heavy shelling from the German artillery could be heard and, just after 9am, the Battalion received orders to move forward about 4 miles to Favreuil.

The long expected attack had begun. By late morning, reports were being received that the Germans had already taken the British first, second and main defensive trench systems. As the troops arrived at Favreuil, they were ordered to take up a position near Vaulx Wood. "D" Company was detached from the others to form a defensive flank on high ground near Vraucourt. The German infantry attacked at about 4pm and were repulsed but with heavy losses on both sides.

The night was fairly quiet but German shelling started soon after dawn, followed by an infantry attack at 7.30. By 8am, they had captured Vaulx Wood and few of the men of "D" Company had managed to escape. Those not dead were captured.

The other three companies were also attacked just after daybreak. The German infantrymen managed to get into the trench system at several points and fierce hand-to-hand fighting took place before they were driven out. Heavy fighting continued all day. At about 5pm, orders were received for the remnants of the Battalion to withdraw 1000 yards

William was one of three local men to be killed during the day. The others were Harold Perkins and Samuel Brookfield. They were probably buried by the advancing Germans who would not, in the circumstances, take particular care in ensuring the individual identification of each body nor, perhaps, of recording the exact location of graves. As such, none of the three now has a known grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Pozieres.

Further information about William, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" by John Eaton.

   
           
   
     
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