William T ALMOND
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 15599
Unit: 18th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 12 October 1916
Age: 30
Cemetery: AIF Burial Ground, Flers, Somme, France

The son of Charles & Elizabeth Almond of 2 Yelvertoft Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton. Sergeant Almond had been born at Orton, Northampton. The 1901 Census shows him still to be living in Northampton and working as a gardener. His connection with the local area is not known. He did, however, enlist in the Battalion in Manchester, so may have worked in the locality. He does not appear to be commemorated on any war memorials in his native area.

Although William has a low service number, he does not appear to have been amongst the original members of the third of the "Pals" Battalions. He will arrived in France and gone on active service as part of one of the drafts of replacements for men killed during the opening Somme battles during July 1916.

On 12 October, an attack had been ordered on a position held by German marines, south of Ligny-Thilloy. The attack was scheduled for 2pm and was preceded by an artillery barrage of the enemy trenches. As the men were preparing to "go over the top", they saw the Germans leave their trenches and run back 100 yards to avoid the shellfire falling on their front line. As the barrage lifted, the marines ran back to their trenches and manned their machine guns. William and his comrades had 300 yards to cross. It was an impossible task. Many were simply cut down by the devastating fire.

Those that made it to near the German lines were pinned down by enemy artillery fire. They had to take cover in shell holes and hope for the best. They stayed like this throughout the night before they could get back to their own lines. Of the 350 who started out, 250 were killed, wounded or missing.

William is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery just behind the British trenches. His headstone is inscribed "Mors est Janua Vitae" - Death is the Entrance to Life.

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

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