William Ogden was born in Manchester on November 20th 1894. His parents were Holland & Elizabeth and he was the fourth of six children - his siblings being Albert, Annie, Holland, Frank & Lavinia. Not long after William's birth
the family moved to Royton and it was there, at St.Paul's, that he was baptised on April 3rd 1895 with the Ogdens living at 33 Fir Lane. The 1901 census found the Ogdens at 357 Rochdale Road and then in 1911 44 Glen Grove.
William worked as a piecer at the Thornham Mill and worked alongside his father Holland.
William joined the army in late 1915 and in early June 1916 was posted to France to join the 10th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Joining at the same time was another Royton lad later to be killed - Harry Hancock. The 10th Dukes had been formed at Halifax in September 1914 and had initially recruited from recruited from Keighley, Settle & Barnoldswick. They had been sent out to France in late August 1915.
Shortly after joining their new unit Ogden & Hancock and the rest of the men of the battalion were to be one of the many battalions committed to the fighting at the Battle of the Somme which began on July 1st 1916. They were not one of the initial assault units and it was four days later on July 5th that they were first committed to the fight. That day they were involved in fighting around a fortification taken from the Germans known as Scots Redoubt near to Becourt Wood. OVer the 5th and 6th of July they advanced 500 yards at the cost of 4 Officers and 13 Other Ranks killed with 2 officers and 66 Other Ranks wounded. While terrible suffering by normal standards these were very light casualties given the slaughter that had been going on all around them. On the 9th the battalion was in support for the other battalion's of the brigade and then the 10th Dukes found themselves under considerable shellfire on July 10th.In the early hours of the 11th the battalion's machine guns cut down a group of Germans advancing towards them. The unit war diary does concede these men were probably actually coming over to the British lines to surrender but states that given the poor light their intentions could only be assumed.
The battalion saw some sharp action on July 26th in the same sector near Contalmaison during fighting along a disputed trench known as Munster Alley. The German defenders had contested every yard and casualties had been heavy.Unfortunately the relevant page for the unit's war diary no longer exists.
Total casualties for the battalion for July 1916 were 21 officers & 419 Other Ranks. Of these some 62 men were confirmed killed & 44 missing. 36 men were listed as being shellshocked. Considering a battalion at full strength was around 1000 strong it can be seen that the fighting around Munster Alley must have been quite savage.
After coming out of the line and presumably receiving reinforcements the 10th Dukes were moved to the Ploegsteert area and arrived in the reserve trenches there on August 18th. On the night of 21st/22nd August a party of 350 Other Ranks and 12 Officers successfully dug a new trench for a total distance of 400 yards which reduced the distance to the German front line by 250-300 yards. This trench was then christened the West Riding Trench and on August 25th was occupied by men of the Battalion. Not long after that they were on the move again back to the Somme. Their short spell at Ploegsteert had resulted in 4 deaths and 23 men wounded.
September 1916 was a quiet spell for the 10th Dukes and then on the 30th of that month they moved up to the area of Le Sars. On October 2nd they were ordered to relieve the 8th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the front line. Two days later on the evening of October 4th they went on the attack. At 18:03 two (A & D) of the battalion's four companies went forward in three waves each one 80 yards apart. These men went forward right behind the British creeping artillery barrage but upon it lifting it was found that progress was very slow due to the muddy conditions. Whilst the men struggled forward the Germans brought down an intense fire upon them with machine guns and rifles, most of those not killed or wounded were forced to ground. Very few of the men managed to reach the German trench - one of those that did was 2nd Lieutenant Henry Kelly who was to win a Victoria Cross for his actions that evening . The Germans then launched a counter attack which was fought off with heavy losses to the enemy. The fighting had claimed the life of William Ogden and at least 21 others from the battalion.
A couple of weeks or so after his death, William's parents were officially informed of his death. They also received a letter from a Sergeant R.A Oliver.
The other men killed in action that day along with William were:
CURREY WILLIAM 20 Private 26733
FENNELL JOHN Private 14264
GRAHAM Robert 25 Second Lieutenant from Glasgow
GREENWOOD R Private 3/12662
HARAN MARTIN Private 30135
HARTLEY JOHN 21 Serjeant 13687 from Keighley
HEATON JAMES 19 Lance Corporal 11818 from Halifax
HIRST ALFRED 20 Private 12384
HOLDEN J Private 12384
JESSON FREDERICK Private 13522
KILBURN EDWARD 29 Private 15176 from Huddersfield
OATES WL Private 18733
OVEREND JOHN 20 Private 17751 from Birstall
PARKER JOHN 24 Lance Corporal 13991 from Keighley
PRESTON JOSEPH 28 Private 13611 from Preston
STAFFORD HENRY 21 Second Lieutenant from Ashbourne
SUTCLIFFE HE Private 15202
WAGGITT WILLIAM 26 Lance Corporal 12901 from Ilkley
WHITAKER EDGAR 21 Private 18379 from Skipton
WILLIAMS EDWARD Private 15102
WINDSOR ARTHUR Private 18331
William's name on the memorial at St.Paul's Church. Courtesy of Mike Berrell
Date of Death:04/10/1916
Regiment:Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 6A