William Whalley HUTCHKINSON (HUTCHINSON)
Rank: Private
Number: 53303
Unit: 4th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 20 November 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Favreuil British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

The Stockport War Memorial wrongly spells William's name as Hutchkinson. He was born in Stockport in 1886 but little is known of his private life. He was married and is probably the man of the same name who married in Ormskirk in early 1906. The couple are known to have had five children and, at the time of the War, were living at 27 Smith Street, Stockport. William worked for Kent & Swarbrick Ltd - a firm of tripe dressers with several shops around town.

The Regimental History has little to say about the day he was killed. The Battalion was near the French village of Bullecourt (some 30 kilometres south east of the town of Arras). An attack was planned to capture nearby German positions. The units carrying out the assault would be 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers and 12th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. One Company of the Fusiliers would be attached to each unit as reinforcements. Four platoons from the other two Companies would go forward after the attack and set up posts in the middle of what had been No Man's Land. The attack was successful and the platoons did go forward. A letter from William's officer suggests he was probably one of these platoon members. "After our objectives had been gained, your husband formed one of a Lewis gun team whilst the consolidation took place. In company with two of the gun team he was engaged cleaning the gun, when a German shell exploded in front and all three were killed. It will be some comfort to you to know that your husband suffered no pain, death being instantaneous. The three bodies were buried together when we came out of the trenches and his comrades were present at the graveside. I was your husband's platoon commander for five weeks. He was one of the most reliable men I had, earnest and industrious and during the severe fighting he had seen I have never known him to fall in his duty. No word of complaint ever passed his lips; he did all his work without a murmur and was cheerful all the time....."

After the War, many of the small front line burial grounds were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. William's body was moved to the large Cemetery at Flers where his grave is now tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

   
           
   
     
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