William Bright HURST
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 20908
Unit: 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys)
Date of Death: 1 April 1918
Age: 31
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

The family history website, CheshireBMD, notes that William's birth was registered at Heaton Norris in 1881. He doesn't appear on the 1901 census as someone living locally. This information, coupled with his original low service number (2DM/6175) suggests he may well have been a regular soldier and serving aboard at the time. His place of enlistment is shown as Berwick on Tweed - a major military centre before the war.

Assuming this to be correct, the 2nd Dragoons were stationed in York when war was declared in August 1914. The men went to France in September and William will have seen action at the Battle of the Aisne the same month. This early service would have qualified William to regard himself as one of the Army's "Old Contemptibles". The cavalry troops were used as a mobile force but, gradually, as the fighting stagnated into trench warfare, they were increasingly used as ordinary infantry taking their turns of duty in the front line trenches.

The German Army launched a massive and overwhelming attack on the British, along a 40 mile front on 21 March. Within a couple of days, all the gains of the previous two years of fighting had been lost. But, by the end of the month, the tide had turned. The Germans were exhausted and their attack had been so successful that their supply lines became over-stretched. The British advanced again.

On 1 April, acting as dismounted infantry, William and his comrades were part of an attack on a position known as "Rifle Wood", near the hamlet of Hourges (about 15 kilometres, south east of Amiens). They attacked at 8.15, reaching their objectives in spite of coming under heavy machine gun fire. Severe hand-to-hand fighting took place, but the Germans were slowly forced back into the wood and withdrew.

At 9.45, they were able to push forward again to just west of the Hourges, where again they came under heavy fire from machine guns and artillery. The second objectives were secured and the Dragoons held this position until they were relieved at midnight. William was one of 7 men to be killed in the fighting. It is not known if his comrades were able to give him a decent burial but, if they were, the location of his grave became lost over the final months of fighting and he is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Pozieres.

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