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WW1 Casualty: Private 2706 William Critchley -

Private 2706 William Critchley

Unit/Regiment 1st/5th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death 02/08/1916 Age at Death 36
& Reference
Peronne Road Cemetery
IV B 19
Census Details 1901 Census –

William Critchley, aged 22, a Labourer at Sheet Glassworks, lived at 46 Clyde Street, St Helens with his wife Jane (21). They were boarders at the home of Jane’s mother, Ann Rigby a 54 year old widow

1911 - Sees 32 year old 'Miner (Hewer)' William living at 24 Wilson Street, St Helens with wife Jane (31) and three children: Edith (7), Robert (3), Annie (7 mths).
Also at the address are his parents Henry (74) Ellen (74) (married 13 yrs).
Birth/Marriage/Death Registrations Marriage between William Critchley and Jane Rigby was registered in Prescot in Q4/1900, Volume 8b, Page 1104
SDGW – Where Born Prescot, Lancs
Enlisted St Helens, Lancs
How Died Killed In Action Theatre of War France & Flanders
Notes William was employed as a Collier by Pilkington's and is remembered on the Pilkington's Roll of Honour.
Research Ref. No. P066

Service Details

William Critchley attested to the South Lancashire Regiment on 2nd September 1914. He was aged 34, a miner in the employ of Pilkington Brothers. At the time, he lived at 107, Walker Street, St Helens and was married. He noted that he had previously served with the 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment.

He was 5ft 7in, and had a 26 inch chest measurement, expandable by 2 inches. His eyesight and physical development were both classed as 'Good' and after taking a medical at Blackpool on 7th December, he was passed as fit for military service.

After training, he embarked for France on 11th February 1915, arriving there the next day. He served in France until 11th June when he returned to the UK as a casualty. The Casualty Form helps to explain this as he was he was at No 2 Casualty Clearing Station on 27th May, then sent via Ambulance Train to Number 13 General Hospital, Bolougne, the following day. From there he was sent to England.

Pte. Critchley went absent without leave whilst in the UK, from 3rd September until 6th September 1915. For this he was awarded forfeiture of 3 days pay and was 'Admonished'. He again went absent without leave on 1st November until 3rd November, this time forfeiting 14 days pay.

He remained in the UK until the 9th November when he once again left for France, arriving at Rouen on 10th November 1915.

This extract from Pte. Critchley's service shows his movements between the UK and France

He was again admitted to hospital on 9th February 1916 and remained there until the 13th, cause unknown.

On 24th June, he overstayed his furlough from 7.50 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. and on 28th was officially 'Admonished' for this offence. He finally returned to his unit on 20th July

The Regimental history does not record details of any significant actions around this time. Although the Battle of the Somme had commenced on 1st July, the battalion, part of 55th Division, was only engaged with active patrolling and sniping. On 22nd July, they received orders to move south and on the 25th, they arrived at billets inn Ville-sous-Corbie.

Private Critchley was killed in Action on 2nd August 1916.

It seems likely, therefore, that he was one of many men who fell victim to German artillery or raids around this time. His body was recovered and ultimately buried in Peronne Road Cemetery.

The Battalion War Diary for the day of his death and the preceding day is reproduced below.

August 1

Moved forward from MANSEL COPSE F16b F17a to reserve trenches at OXFORD COPSE A14 A15 (Sheet 62c NW 1/20000)

August 2 8am

Valley shelled by 8' Howitzers for 15 minutes and again at 2pm. Casualties 15 Killed 17 Wounded.

The War Office wrote to the Army Records Office on 25th October 1916 to say that any personal effects of Pte. Critchley should be returned to his wife, Mrs. Jane Critchley, at 23 Arthur Street, St. Helens.

On 31st October 1916, his personal effects are listed as 1 identify disk, I metal matchbox, 1 metal ring, 1 cap badge, 1 pocket knife (broken), 2 photographs, 1 cotton bag. These effects will have been found on his body and will have enabled identification of him for burial. An undated letter from Mrs. Critchley acknowledges receipt of these articles on 9th November 1916.

The War Office wrote on 2nd February 1917 to note that Mrs. Critchley had been awarded a pension of 25/- (25 shillings) per week in respect of herself and four children, to take effect from 5th February.

The Army Records Office were advised of an updated address for Mrs. Critchley on 11th September 1919, when she was recorded as living at 18, Albion Street, St. Helens.

The Records Office wrote to Mrs. Critchley on 10th October 1919 asking her to confirm next-of-kin details for the Memorial Scroll and Plaque which was to be issued. She replied to say that she was now 'Mrs. Jane Canning, formerly Critchley'.

His medal entitlement, as shown on the Medal Index Card below, was the 1914-1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal. These were issued to his widow, who wrote to acknowledge receipt of the first medal on 2nd August and the latter two on 31st November 1921.

William Critchley's Medal Index Card

Pte. Critchley's grave at Peronne Road Cemetery

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