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WW1 Casualty: Private 15944 William Case -

Private 15944 William Case

Prescot Reporter 12/02/1917

Unit/Regiment 7th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death 14/11/1916 Age at Death 29
& Reference
Thiepval Memorial
Pier and Face 7A & & 7B
Census Details 1901 Census-

The case family lived at 8, Highfield Place, Prescot. James Case, a 42 year old labourer, lived with his wife Ann (40), sons William (14, a butcher's errand boy) and Isaac (10) and daughter Mary Jane, aged 14.

1911 Census –
William Case, a 24 year old General Labourer at the Wire Works, lived at 44, Warrington Road, Prescot, the home of his brother-in-law Thomas Woodward (29) and sister Mary Jane Woodward (27).
Enlisted Warrington, Lancs
Resided Prescot, Lancs
How Died Killed In Action Theatre of War France & Flanders
Notes Although William has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, his family had his details inscribed on the family gravestone in Prescot Churchyard.
Research Ref. No. P043

Service Details

The 7th (Service) Battalion of the South Lancashire Battalion was formed form the large number of recruits who flocked to the colours as a result of Kitchener's appeal in August 1914. The 6th and 7th Battalions were formed within a few days of each other but the 7th did not receive any uniforms until October, having to wear civilian clothes up to that time.

William Case attested to the South Lancashire Regiment on 23rd November 1914 in Warrington and was posted to the 7th Battalion 4 days later. His address was recorded as 2, Beaconsfield Street, Prescot. He was 27 years and 9 months old when he attested, a labourer and unmarried. His next-of-kin was listed as his sister, Mary Jane Woodward, living at the same address. Medical Records from Warrington on 23rd November 1914 show that he was 5ft 5in in height with a 38 inch chest, expandable by 3 inches. He had 3 vaccination marks on his left arm and was marked 6 out of 6 for vision in both eyes.

The battalion was eventually trained and fully equipped by March 1915.

The Regimental Conduct Sheet shows that whilst based at Tidworth on 4th May 1915, he overstayed his (leave) pass, only returning 4 days later on 8th May. For this offence, on 10th May 1915 he was "Deprived 8 days pay".

An extract from William Case's conduct sheet

On 12th June 1915 whilst still at Tidworth, Pte. Case suffered from a bout of Gastritis until 19th June. On 17th July the battalion embarked for France on the SS "Onward", arriving at Bolougne the following day.

They moved into the line for the first time on 28th August, in the Festubert-Givenchy sector. They moved in and out of the line in rotation for several months, enduring the daily grind of warfare, with trench raids, artillery attacks, etc. to contend with, incurring a steady stream of casualties.

In June 1916, the battalion was ready to join the great Somme offensive. On the 1st July, they moved into the line at 9.30, some 3 hours after the start of the assault, and waited for instructions. They were moved around for the next two days, but did not as yet engage the enemy. On 3rd July, they were tasked with an attack on the strongly defended ruins of La Boisselle, although the start time for the attack was not until 9.30 p.m. The attack was fierce and sustained extremely heavy casualties, but the village was finally cleared by bayonet point at 3pm the following day.

The battalion was withdrawn from the line early on 6th July, moving back to rest billets at Albert.

They moved in and out of the line throughout July as the battle of the Somme wore on, until finally at the beginning of August, they moved northwards into Flanders, to the Messines Ridge. They moved on again in September to the vicinity of Ploegsteert but spent a relatively quiet time there before yet again returning to the Somme in October, although the time was uneventful with regard to major incidents.

The High Command, however, decided to carry out more large scale operations before the bad weather set in, and on 13th November, the 19th Division attacked and captured a portion of the German trench system on the banks of the River Ancre.

Although the 7th Battalion was not involved in the initial fighting, that night it carried out a raid in strength on the German positions near to Thiepval. The raid was launched in the early hours of the 14th November and comprised three companies. A, B and D companies were involved, and at the end of the raid they had suffered 1 officer and 15 other ranks killed, 2 officers and 38 OR wounded and with 2 officers and 4 men missing.

Pte. William Case was amongst those killed. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing.

His Casualty Form has an entry dated 21st November 1916 which states that he was wounded on 14th November. An additional entry of 2nd December 1916 reports that he was Killed in Action on 21st November. The Place is listed as "not stated."

This suggests that after the action he was missing from Roll Call but one of his colleagues, who must have recognised him, will have reported seeing him wounded. Further evidence of his death must have come to light, probably from another colleague, resulting in him being reported as Killed in Action. This can be assumed because if no evidence of his death could be determined, then his "missing" status would have remained in place for 13 months. If his body was ever recovered, it was never identified.

On 10th February 1917, the War Office wrote to the Army Records Office requesting that any personal effects of Pte. Case should be dispatched to his sister, Mary Jane Woodward at their home address.

In determining the relevant next of kin, the Army Records Office wrote to his sister (Mary Jane Woodward) on 19th November 1919 asking for the relevant forms to be completed. She did so on 28th November 1919 and in this she reported that Pte. Case's father was James Case, living at the Whiston Union. His mother was not recorded. His 29 year old brother, Isaac Case is listed at 16, Salisbury Street, Prescot and a 39 year old sister Ellen Tudor is resident at 416 Mill Street, Liverpool.

The Army Records Office wrote to the Prescot Union on 19th February 1920, "I have been informed that Mr. James Case, father of the above deceased soldier, is an inmate of your institution, and as Mr. Case is entitled to receive the Memorial Plaque and Scroll which is being presented to the next-of-kin of soldiers who lost their lives through the war, I shall be glad if you would interview him and ascertain whether he is desirous that the memorial should be forwarded to him at his present address. It is understood that Mr. Case has a son and daughter living in Prescot and Liverpool respectively."

Mr. G E Green of the Prescot Union, The Workhouse, Whiston, replied to the Army Records Office on 24th February that "the father of the deceased 15944 Pte. Wm. Case desires that the memorial plaque be sent to him here".

His medal entitlement was the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. The medals were dispatched to 2, Beaconsfield Street, Prescot, on 14th March 1921. The medal entitlement is shown on the Medal Index Card below, which also confirms his arrival in France on 18th July 1915.

William's Medal Index Card. He was entitled to the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal

The family grave in Prescot churchyard, bearing Pte. Case's inscription

William Case's inscription on the Thiepval Memorial.
This picture was taken on Monday 21st February 2011

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