William DOWNS
Rank: Private
Number: 35929
Unit: 1st Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 18 September 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Before he enlisted in the army, William had lived with his parents, George and Sarah Downs at 130 Newbridge Lane, Stockport. He was one of their five children and his younger brother, Peter, would also serve in war and, also, would never come home. William’s service number is consistent with him joining up in early 1916, so he was not at the front for very long before he was killed.

On 18 September, William and his mates were at a position known as Waterlot Farm, in the south of the Somme battlefield. They received orders to move forward to be in support of an attack by other units. It was likely that they could be called on to go into action, so haversacks were left behind and extra rations were issued. The track was very muddy and in a bad state and this slowed down their progress to the new positions south of the village of Ginchy. They started out at 6.20pm and were in position by 10.45. In the event, they did not go into action.

The Battalion War Diary records “The Bosche threw over a considerable number of heavy shells which inflicted a few casualties.”  William was one of the men killed. He has no known grave.

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