William Hazeldine was born in Harrogate in 1886. His parents were Joseph, a grocer's coachman, originally from Ramsgate and Rose Ellen who had been born in Staffordshire. Joseph and Rose Ellen had lived together in Northampton, Ramsgate & the Harrogate area before moving to Springhead on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border up above Oldham.
The 1891 census found William with his parents and siblings George, Joseph,Minnie and John in Springhead. Ten years later they had crossed over the border into Oldham and further additions to the family were Charles, Sarah and Albert. By that time William, aged 15, was working as a packer - presumably in a local mill.
On February 17th 1906 William (20) married Mary Anne Wadsworth (18) at St.John the Baptist in Lees. William's parents had both already died by that point - Rose Ellen in 1904 and Joseph the following year. In the 1911 census William and Mary Anne were living at 1 Buckley Street, Lees with children Fred(born 1906), Rose(1908) and Annie(1910). Fred & Rose had been born in Saddleworth and Annie in Lees. William's job was that of a 'Cop Packer', a cop being another name for a cotton bobbin.
Several of the Hazeldine's moved to Royton over the years, William & family settled at 11 John Street.His siblings John,Minnie,Sarah & Albert all also lived in Royton.William worked at the Park Mill, again as a Cop Packer.
William enlisted on August 10th 1915 into the Royal Field Artillery and arrived at their depot in Deptford two days later.By the time came for him to be posted abroad for active service he had been transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery as a member of the 137th Heavy Battery. He was with that unit as it left Southampton on 25th April 1916 reaching Le Havre the following day.
The Heavy Batteries of the RGA were normally equipped with 60 pounder guns and were often employed in destroying or neutralising artillery as well as putting fire down on strongpoints,dumps,stores and roads and railways behind enemy lines.
On August 19th 1916 William was injured (with two others from his unit being killed) in the right arm and he reached one of the hospitals in Boulogne the following day. He was away from his unit until September 25th. The following day he was recommended for the Military Medal. Then a month later on October 27th he was injured again, dying of his wounds in a dressing station the following day. Killed on the day he was injured was Gunner Walter Rayner,1400,from the London area.
Mary Anne Hazeldine back in Royton received two letters, the first from an officer of William's Battery:
"You will have heard by the time you get this letter that your husband Gunner William Hazeldine has died of wounds received in action on the 27th of October.He died in hospital the following day. I am writing to offer you my sincere sympathy in your great loss. Your husband's death is much felt in the battery as he was much liked. He was a good soldier and always so cheerful under trying circumstances"
and then from an Army Chaplain:
"I am very grieved that I have to send you the very sad news that your husband Gunner W Hazeldine has died of wounds at a dressing station, we have laid his body to rest in the British Cemetery this afternoon (Oct 28th) with a memorial service, and a cross will be erected to mark his grave. Please accept my very real sympathy with you and his children in your deepest sorrow and loss. May God comfort you"
The Oldham Chronicle reported that he had three brothers in the army. One of those was Charles Frederick Hazeldine,of the Manchester Regiment,who was to be killed shortly after William when a shell buried him alive on Boxing Day 1916.He had been living in Oldham with a wife and two children and working at the Springhey Mill in Waterhead. Charles Frederick does not appear on Oldham's war memorial or that of his native Saddleworth but he is on that of St.Anne's Church in Royton.
Date of Death:28/10/1916
Regiment:Royal Garrison Artillery
Unit:137th Heavy Bty.
Cemetery:Becourt Military Cemetery