‚ÄčRoyton Roll of Honour

Service No:20561
Date of Death:13/07/1916
Regiment:King's Own(Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Unit:1st Bn.
Royton Cemetery
Grave Reference:C. C.E.1000.

William Gill was born on July 13th 1895 in Birstall, Yorkshire. His father was Joseph, at the time a shoemaker, and Eliza. William was the third of nine children . His siblings were Dorothy, Mary (died in 1909 aged 15) Harriet, James, Sarah, Sam,Annie & Emma (died in 1911, aged 10 months).
The Gill family remained in Yorkshire until at least 1904,William's brother Sam was born in Birstall early in that year. At the time of the 1901 census they were living nearby in Batley with Joseph Gill working as a stoker for a stationary steam engine. At some time between Sam's birth in 1904 and Annie's birth in 1907 the family had moved to Royton. They lived at 109 Castleton Road in the town's Thornham district. Joseph was by now working as a labourer whilst William was employed as a piecer in one of the many local mills.
It's not known when William enlisted but he disembarked in France on December 9th 1915 and shortly after that would have joined his new battalion the 1st King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.  The 1st KORL were an old pre war regular army battalion but had seen a lot of fighting by the time William joined them and the makeup of the unit would have been significantly different from when it went to war in 1914.
In April 1916 the battalion moved to the Somme area, all part of the British preparation for the forthcoming offensive - which was to begin on July 1st.They left camp on the evening of June 30th and were in their assembly trenches by 01:30 on that fateful date - July 1st 1916. The 1st King's Own were in the centre of the assault on the fortified villages of Thiepval, Beaumont Hamel, Serre and Gommecourt. The German positions were on higher and better ground and each of the villages had been turned into fortresses with deep bunkers allowing their soldiers cover from the whirlwind of the mighty British artillery barrage that preceded the battle. The opposition trenches that were the target for William Gill and his comrades lay on Redan Ridge which lies between Beaumont Hamel and Serre.
The 1st King's as part of the 12th Brigade were to be part of the second wave of the 4th Division's attack that morning, passing through the trenches due to be taken by the battalions of the 11th Brigade. The men moved forward at 07:20. Hardly had they set off than they came under heavy fire from German batteries whilst up ahead the leading troops of the 11th Brigade found the enemy wire uncut and dugouts undamaged. The battalion was suffering tremendous casualties and the loss in the succeeding waves was also severe and this was before they had even advanced beyond the British front line.The two left companies of the 1st King's Own were almost wiped out.
It was becoming clear to those in command that the infantrymen of the 11th Brigade were being annihilated so messages were sent out for the troops of the 10th & 12th Brigades to not advance further than the British front line - which they were due to do at 09:30. The 1st King's were amongst the battalions that did not receive the message on time and so it's survivors dutifully moved out into the inferno. The battalion suffered severely from artillery fire and also two mines were exploded underneath them. Those who made it across no man's land crossed the front line with some linking up with the remnants of 11th Brigade and still others apparently pressed on further. At the time it was unknown what happened to these men but it later became apparent that they had been shot down by Germans who came in behind them in trenches that hadn't been taken. At 12:30 the Germans bombed the occupants of their old front trenches and the survivors from the 1st King's were forced back to the original British line with nothing to show for the day but casualties. 10 officers had been killed & 12 wounded. Of the 507 other ranks who advanced that morning, 387 were casualties.
One of those injured was William Gill. He had been shot in the chest and leg. He was passed down through the casualty evacuation chain - which no doubt was under intense strain at the time, 40000 had been injured that day alone - and eventually reached England and the 5th General Southern Hospital in Southsea. Unfortunately acute sepsis had set in and William died there on his 21st birthday, July 13th 1916. His family arranged for his body to be brought back home and he was buried in Royton Cemetery - in the grave of his sisters Mary & Emma on July 18th. Although there is only his Commonwealth War Graves headstone to mark the grave, there are seven other members of William's family buried with him.

William Gill's comrades who were killed on July 1st (including 8 men from Oldham, 1 of whom had enlisted in Royton) were:

ADAMSON GEORGE Corporal 6628 from Oldham                                    
ALTHANSEN MORRIS 20 Private 3629 from London                                
ANDREWS FREDERICK 28 Lance Corporal 7667 from London                            
ASHCROFT WILFRED 41 Private 18062 from Barrow                            
BARKER FRANK 18 Private  17246 from Nelson                                
BARLOW ROBERT 31 Private 16828 from Wigan                                
BERESFORD WILLIAM Private 18188 from Manchester                                
BERRY JAMES Private 10946                                    
BLAKE CYRIL 22 Drummer 10740 born Altrincham, enlisted Lancaster                                
BLINSTON RICHARD Private 3033 from Manchester                                    
BORTHWICK THOMAS Military Medalist Lance Corporal 7942 born Dumfries,enlisted Manchester                                
BRENNEN PATRICK Private 16945 from Liverpool                                    
BROWN ALBERT 21 Private 3805 from London                            
BROWNING BRYANT Private 18604 born York,enlisted Lancaster                                    
BRYSON JOHN Private 3971 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                                    
CARR ALBERT Private 8459 born Preston,enlisted Blackburn                                    
CLARE JAMES 23 Private 2212 from Manchester                                
CLEGG JOHN Private 2402 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                                
CLEGG PERCY 21 2nd.Lieutenant from Heywood                            
COOKE EDWARD 20 Private 20122 from Middleton                            
COOPER HARRY Private 8444 born Manchester,enlisted Lancaster                                    
COOPER SIDLOW Private 18324 born Failsworth,enlisted Manchester                                    
COWAN THOMAS Private 1943 from Newcastle                                    
CROWTHER WILLIAM Private 17001 from Blackburn                                
CURRY FRANK 37 Serjeant  6904 born Skerton,enlisted Lancaster                            
DAVIES WILLIAM Lance Corporal 2460 from Burnley                                    
DOLAN HUBERT 31 Lance Corporal 9197 from Stockton-on-Tees                            
DOWNS WILLIAM Private 2964 from Manchester                                    
DRINKALL THOMAS  19 Private 17767 from Fleetwood                                
DUTTON ALBERT Private 17485 from Manchester                                    
EDGE RICHARD Private 14012 enlisted in Blackdown                                    
ELSWOOD    FRANK 34 Private 20134 from Manchester                                
FALCUS RICHARD Private 10510 from Newcaslte                                    
FARRINGTON ORLANDO 26 Private 17733 from Bolton                                
FAULKNER ALFRED Corporal 9324 born Farnworth,enlisted Bury                            
FERGUS JOHN Lance Corporal 17820 from Liverpool                                    
FORSYTH ALBERT Private 13339 from Barrow                                    
FOY THOMAS Serjeant 4451 from Manchester                                    
FRATER THOMAS Lance Corporal 3377 from Manchester                                    
GANNON CHRISTOPHER Private 18341 from Oldham                                    
GARNETT  PETER 35 Private 4219 from Salford                            
GENT JOSEPH Private 16893 from Chorley                                    
GLEDHILL JOSEPH 28 Private 20918 from Littleborough                            
GRAHAM ALFRED Serjeant 1346 from Carlisle,enlisted Lancaster                                    
GRAHAM CHARLES 29 Private 12199 from Manchester                                
GREEN RICHARD 20 Private 20139 from Great Yarmouth                                
GREEN THOMAS 25 Private 17926 (SERVED AS LOW) from Rawtenstall                            
GUNSHON JOHN Private 6238 from Manchester                                    
HABLUTZEL GEORGE 39 2nd.Lieutenant from Northallerton                                
HAMER THOMAS Private 17879 from Werneth,Oldham                                    
HANDS JOHN Private 3428    from London                                
HASLAM CHARLES Private 18259 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                                    
HINDLE ROBERT Private 16652 from Blackburn                                    
HOLLAND  WILLIAM 32 Lance Corporal 8496 from Macclesfield
HOWARTH ERNEST 26 Lance Corporal 16915 from Manchester                    
HUDSON ARTHUR 19 2nd.Lieutenant from Southend    
HULLEY ROBERT Private 2760 from Oldham                                    
HUNTER THOMAS Private 17476 from Chorley                                    
HURST JOHN Private 9788 born Accrington,enlisted Lancaster                                
IRVING EDWARD Private 6944 born Manchester,enlisted Carlisle                                    
KAIR ROLAND Private 18906 from Manchester                        
KAY ARTHUR Corporal 9363 from Darwen                                    
KELLY JOHN Private 11861 born Swinton,enlisted Manchester                                    
KEOUGH JOSEPH 31 Lance Corporal 8562 from Walsall
LICHFIELD WALTER Military Medalist Serjeant 3506 born South Shields,enlisted Altrincham                        
LLOYD WILLIAM Private 4494 from Manchester                
LOFTHOUSE EDWARD Private 17347 from Chorley                        
LONGWORTH FRED 20 Private 21765 from Blackburn                                
LOWE MATTHEW 45 Private 3051 from Manchester,eldest son also killed in WW1    
MACWALTER CHARLES 2nd.Lieutenant                                         
MAHER CHRISTOPHER Lance Corporal 10427 from Manchester                                    
MARSHALL SAMUEL  Private  17131 from Oldham,enlisted in Royton                                    
MATHER GEORGE Private 18070 born Radcliffe, enlisted Manchester                                    
MELLY HUGH 19 2nd.Lieutenant from Liverpool
MINOR ROLAND 21  2nd.Lieutenant from Alderley Edge
MURPHY EDWARD Private 5459 born Manchester,enlisted Lancaster                                    
McCANN JOHN Private 16674 from Manchester                                    
McCONNELL JAMES  Lance Corporal 8277 born Ashton under Lyne,enlisted Manchester                                    
McCORMICK JAMES Private 20556 from Manchester                                    
McNAMARA JOSEPH Lance Corporal 10884 from Salford                            
O'BRIEN JOHN Lance Corporal 10173 from Liverpool                                    
OLIVER FREDERICK 21 Private 17431 from London                            
PEARSON WILLIAM Private 17544 born Astley,enlisted Atherton    
POOLE CHARLES 24 Lance Corporal 9879 from Peterborough                            
PORTER FRANK 26 Lance Corporal 18683 from Ulverston                            
RASTALL GEORGE DCM Serjeant 6756 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                                    
RIDGWAY FREDERICK Private 17217 from Salford                                
RILEY JAMES Private 11362 born Salford,enlisted Manchester                                    
RILEY WILLIAM 20 Private 3565 from Manchester                                
ROBINSON THOMAS Corporal 4300 from Manchester                                    
ROGERS ROBERT Lance Corporal 8234 from Liverpool                                    
ROWLEY JOSEPH 2nd.Lieutenant from Lancaster                            
SALMON THOMAS Private 19786 born Stoke,enlisted Hollinwood,Oldham.                                    
SCARLETT JOHN 32 Private 3643 from London                            
SEXTON THOMAS 24 Private 3646 from London                            
SIDDALL  JAMES Private 18056 from Oldham                                    
SMALLSHAW ROBERT Private 17216 born Wigan,enlisted Atherton                                
SMITH GEORGE Private 4971 from Suffolk                                
SMITH JOHN Private 20564 born Salford,enlisted Bolton                                    
SMITH WALTER 18  Private 16852 from Bolton
SMITHIES WILFRED 21 Private 17699 from Waterhead,Oldham                            
SPEAK ROBERT 24 Private 18540 from Blackrod,Chorley                                
STEWARD ALFRED Private 8882 from Woolwich,London                                    
SUTCLIFFE JOSEPH Lance Corporal 17236 born Bolton,enlisted Adlington                                    
TAYLOR ARTHUR 20 Private 3410 from London                        
THORLEY  ALFRED 38 Private 18046 from Manchester                            
THORP JOSEPH Private 1210 from Manchester                                    
TONGE HERBERT Private 17030 from Atherton                                    
TOWNSEND RICHARD 25 Private 20459 from Preston                        
TUNSTALL JAMES Private 20082 from Wigan                                    
TYLDESLEY BENJAMIN Corporal 7927 from Lancaster                                
WALSH THOMAS Private 2216 from Bolton,enlisted Bury                                    
WARD THOMAS 23 Private 18104 from Manchester                                
WATTS WALTER 29 Distinguished Conduct Medal,Order of St.George(Russia) Serjeant 8059 from Manchester            
WEATHERHEAD ANDREW 2nd.Lieutenant                        
WELLINGS RICHARD 19 Private 3797 from Manchester                                
WILDERS  JOSEPH 35 Private 11960 from Manchester                                
WILSON ALBERT Private 19908 born Cartmel,enlisted Barrow                                    
WOOD WILLIAM Private 20853 from Horwich                            
YATES THOMAS Private 18017 from Preston                                    
YOUNG JOHN 19 Captain from London