William VENABLES
Rank: Private
Number: 15603
Unit: 8th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 9th July 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

William had been born in Chelford, Cheshire and enlisted at Stockport in the autumn of 1914, originally serving with the Cheshire Regiment (service no. 17380). Prior to the war, he lived with his parents, William & Winifred, at 119 Adswood Road, Cheadle Hulme, together with his younger brothers, Peter and Thomas. After the war, his parents were living at 133 King Street West, Stockport.

William never served overseas with the Cheshires and was probably transferred to the South Lancashires very shortly after joining up. He probably went overseas with the newly formed 8th Battalion in September 1915.

William's Battalion was not in action on 1 July for the opening of the Battle of the Somme, but there had been no real success in the north of the battlefield. On the 7th, they moved into front line trenches south of the village of Ovillers. At 4am, the following morning, they attacked the German positions, capturing the front line trench almost without opposition. Later in the day, they pushed forward, occupying the enemy second line and part of the third line trench.

At 5.30am on 9 July, a bombing raid was made on the still occupied German positions, with two platoons attacking from different directions, but this was unsuccessful. At 8pm, the brigade issued direct orders to the South Lancashires that they were to attempt to capture the remainder of the occupied third line of trench. This was to be a "determined rush across the open" ground. The recent heavy rainfall meant the ground was like a quagmire and a "rush" was to be impossible. As the men started, heavy machine gun fire swept across them from the direction of Ovillers. The attack was a failure and this is probably when William was killed.

During the evening, the Battalion's bombers (grenade specialists) co-operated with a further attack by a battalion of the Cheshire regiment, but strong opposition was still encountered and the assault was not pushed.

William was one of 19 soldiers killed during the day. Like many killed on the Somme, he has no known grave. 

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

   
           
   
     
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