Rank: Private
Number: 16932
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Date of Death: 23 April 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

By 1901, William's father had died and his mother, Elizabeth, had married William Wilkinson, a man a few years younger than she was. When the Census was taken that year, William and his older sister, Edith, were living with their mother and stepfather at 26 Weston Street, Reddish. Also in the house were William & Elizabeth's two children - 13 year old Elizabeth and 11 year old Eliza. 15 year old William was working as an apprentice in an office.

Very little is known about William's later life. It would seem that he remained in the Stockport area until he enlisted into the army in the town, probably fairly early in the War. He had also married by then.

After three days rest in the Arras, the Borderers returned to the front line trenches just east of the village of Monchy during the evening of the 22 April. At 4.45am, the next morning, British artillery opened a bombardment on the German trenches opposite. It  heralded the start of another of the attacks that had been taking place since the beginning of the month which would later be officially designated as the Second Battle of the Scarpe (after the nearby river). Following closely behind the creeping barrage, the Borderers "went over the top" and started across "No Man's Land". The Regimental History records that "Each man had a flare and a bomb in his pocket. Each man was victualled for three days, had enough to drink, if sparing, and carried a pack. Moreover, each man carried two sandbags". Needless to say, each man also carried his Lee Enfield rifle.

The Companies were deployed with "D" on the right and "A" on the left. "C" was in close support and was to act as "moppers up". 100 yards to the rear were the men of "C" Company who would act as a reserve to plug any gaps. Only a comparatively few casualties were suffered in the advance - most coming from British shells falling short. Within an hour, the objective had been secured and the Borderers were consolidating the captured position. Later in the morning, a large group of Germans was seen assembling in the nearby Bois de Vert but they were dispersed by machine gun fire.

The Battalion held its position until the next morning when it was relieved.

The casualty report showed that three officers had been killed and another seven wounded. Of the other ranks, 20 were dead and 133 wounded. 19 were posted as missing, including William. In common with many men that day, his body was never found and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Arras.

After the War, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, William's mother had moved to 82 Coronation Street, South Reddish. In due course his widow married a Mr Lightfoot and, in the early 1920s, was living at 17 Chadwick Street, Stockport.

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