William SMITHSON
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: S/11048
Unit: 2nd Battalion ARGYLL & SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
Date of Death: 18 August 1916
Age: 23
Cemetery: Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France

William was a Yorkshireman by birth, originating from Bramley. He lived with his father, John, at 115 Stockport Road, Cheadle. He had enlisted in Stockport.

No doubt George would have seen action with his Battalion over the opening weeks of the Battle of the Somme, which had started on 1 July. The advance had been slow with perhaps only a mile of ground captured at the cost of many lives. By 17 August, the Argylls were in position ready for an attack on the German trenches at High Wood. At irregular intervals throughout the day and the morning of the next day, British artillery shelled the enemy positions. This was sometimes inaccurate and one bombardment fell on the British line causing casualties. The attack was launched at 2.45 pm and immediately met by heavy machine gun fire. Only a few men of "B" Company made it to the German trench and they quickly had to retreat back to their own line.

The cost in lives continued to grow. William was one of 52 members of his Battalion killed that day. More than 100 others were wounded.

William is buried in a cemetery which overlooks High Wood. His headstone is inscribed "O God, take not Thy Holy Spirit from him".

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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