Private 17972 Edward Williams

Williams Edward 96 358x600

Killed in Action on Monday, 3rd July 1916, age 28.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 3 C and 4 A of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

11th Bn., Cheshire Regiment. 75th Brigade of 25th Division.

Son of Mrs Melia, of 2 Horseley Heath, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs. Edward was raised at 5 Henry St, Ryders Green Rd
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Chester, Resident: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

First landed France & Flanders, 25th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/821988/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
60 New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Elizabeth Williams (35, Widow, born Tipton), and her 4 children: Elizabeth (17, born Tipton), Ann (15, born West Bromwich), Edward (13, Foundry Messenger, born West Bromwich), and Susannah (6, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
93 Charles Street, Great Bridge West Bromwich, Staffs.
Thomas Melia (39, Coal Wheeler, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (45, born Tipton), Thomas's 2 Step-children: Edward Williams (23, Bar Drawer, born West Bromwich), and Susannah Williams (16, Screwer in Holloware Foundry, born West Bromwich), and Thomas and Elizabeth's 3 children: George Ernest (9, born West Bromwich), Albert (6, born West Bromwich), and Ivy (4, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

The only linkage of Edward Williams to Tipton is his mother's address according to the CWGC. The Tipton Herald said he was raised on the West Bromwich side of Great Bridge, and that he had moved to Ellesmere Port for work, it was here that he enlisted.

Action resulting in his death

Thiepval had been an objective for the first day of the Battle of the Somme - 1st July, but had not been captured. On 2nd July the 11th Cheshires received orders that they would take part in an assault on a German stronghold known as the Leipzig Salient, south of Thiepval. They assembled for during night of 2nd July for the attack initially planned for 3.00am on the next morning.

The plan was revised at almost the last moment but details were not notified to the Battalion until 3 hours before the attack was to commence. In consequence, it was necessary to delay the assault for another three hours. The Regimental History notes that, whilst the infantry received new orders, the artillery did not. The barrage started according to the original plan and, when they had to try and repeat the process to cover the actual attack, found they had insufficient ammunition and could only fire a modest barrage. It was to have disastrous consequences.

According to the Battalion War Diary, the Cheshires "went over the top in perfect order" on schedule at 6.20am. It also records that they passed over No Man's Land in perfect order but about 50 yards from the German trench, heavy machine gun fire brought the attack to a standstill. "Line after line of troops were mown down". The Commanding Officer, Colonel Aspinal, was killed going forward with the reserve company, and every Company commander became a casualty. The Adjutant, Captain Hill, took command and "decided to get the men still living back into the trench they had jumped off from and to hold it as a defence line." The attack was completely unsuccessful.

The Regimental History records that "On the morning of the 4th, no organised body of men existed. One simply ran about no-man's land collecting men here and there."

Of the 20 Officers and 657 Other Ranks who had gone into action, only 6 Officers and 350 Other Ranks were able to answer roll call on the 4th. The rest were dead, wounded or missing. Amongst the 86 dead, according to 'Soldiers Died in the Great War', were Alfred Reynolds and Edward Williams, both Tipton-born men but amongst many who had migrated to Ellesmere Port. Neither has a known grave, and both are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Thiepval would remain in German hands for many weeks and would cost many more lives.

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 1st September 1916
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
Previously reported wounded, now reported killed.
CHES. R. - Williams, 17972. E., (Tipton).

Birmingham Daily Gazette 5th September 1916
Readers of the "Birmingham Gazette" are asked to assist in the search for news of the missing of soldiers whose portraits are published daily.
This voluntary work has been undertaken at the request of relatives of the soldiers who have been officially notified as missing from their regiments.
If readers will send the "Gazette" to their soldier relatives in the same regiment they may be the means of bringing news to anxious homes.
(1) Private Edward Williams (17972) Cheshire Regiment, missing since 3 July. His mother, Mrs Williams, 2 Leech Street, Horseley Heath, Tipton, will be glad of news.

Tipton Herald December 23rd 1916
GREAT BRIDGE SOLDIERS. The article refers to Mrs Malin, this has been corrected to Mrs Melia.
Mrs Melia of 2 Horseley Heath, Great Bridge, Tipton, has several relatives serving with the colours. A son of Mrs Melia's by a previous marriage, Private Edward Williams of the Cheshire Regiment has been missing since 3rd July. He had been in France between fifteen and sixteen months. Mrs Melia wrote to his Commanding Officer, and he replied that he was very much afraid that her son had been killed, as a bomb was seen to explode in front of him and he had not been seen since. She has also written to Sergt. Jackson, of Ryder's Green Road, and in his reply he said: "I knew when you heard of Ted's death what a blow it would be to you. The last time I saw him alive was in the morning of 3rd July, and we were then in No-Man's Land."
Sergt. Jackson and the missing soldier went to Greets Green Board School together, and worked together at Ellesmere Port. They enlisted together, and went to France together.
Private Williams was reared at No. 5 Henry Street, Ryder's Green Road, and his grandmother is still living at No. 3 Henry Street, where she has lived for 60 years. Mrs Melia has received no official information.
Two of Mrs Melia's nephews, Pte Ben Williams and Lance-Corporal John F. Heath, both belong to Gold's Green. Private Ben Williams, of the R.F.A., has been in France 18 months and has received the Military Cross with Bar (sic). The other nephew is Lance-Corporal John Heath, who was killed two years ago last October. He was in the Army when war broke out. Mrs Melia has also had a brother-in-law killed in Mesopotamia. He served in the Dardanelles. She has three son-in-laws serving with the colours in France, and ten other nephews serving, with one in the Navy.