William Schofield was born in Oldham in 1889, his parents being James & Elizabeth who both worked in the cotton industry. He was their second child, older sister Emily having been born the year before in Royton. A brother, Tom (whose entry can be found two above), followed in 1891 and another sibling Annie was born in 1894. Sadly Annie died aged two in 1897.
At the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 88 Counthill Road in Oldham and by 1901 had moved to 31 Longfield Street. At some point after that the Schofields had moved to Royton and were at 342 Shaw Road in 1911. William worked at the Duchess Mill in Shaw.
William enlisted early in the war in Shaw and it would seem he went along with a group of friends, Abel Hartley and Joseph Quarmby amongst them. These three men became members of the 4th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, a reserve unit which upon mobilisation had moved from the Regimental Depot in Ashton under Lyne to the Humber area to act as part of the garrison there.
In June 1915 a draft of men from the 4th Manchesters were deemed ready for active service and they were sent out to France. It was not to a battalion of the Manchester Regiment though but to the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Amongst the draft were William, Abel Hartley and Joseph Quarmby. The battalion had been out in France since August 1914 and like most others had suffered heavy casualties. Schofield's early period in the unit was one of comparative quiet up until the end of September.
At that time the 1st Loyals were to be one of the assault battalions on the first day of the Battle of Loos.
British troops advancing on the first day of the Battle of Loos, September 25th 1915
The British bombardment of the German positions began on September 21st and lasted until the 25th. On the night of the 24th the battalion moved forward into battle positions. The assault began with a gas attack at 06:34 but the wind changed and blew most of it back onto the attackers, the front and support lines suffered considerably. Despite this the leading parties of the battalion advanced up to the German wire but found this completely uncut and fell back.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sanderson gathered as many men as he could for another attempt but again this failed. After that there were several further isolated attempts to advance by men of the battalion without success. What was left of the battalion then regathered in the trenches, a grand total of three officers and 159 men. The losses had been very heavy - sixteen officers and 489 other ranks were killed, wounded or missing. Abel Hartley was one of those killed. Private Henry Kenny was to win the Victoria Cross for his actions that day.
The battalion were involved in some, thankfully much lighter, fighting in mid October and after that alternated between spells holding the trenches in the neighbourhood of Loos and periods of training and recuperation. Many months were to elapse before the Battalion was again engaged in major operations although losses were steady in early 1916 from the usual dangers of front line life - shell & mortar fire, snipers and enemy bombing (grenade) attacks.
On the eve of the great British offensive at the Somme on July 1st 1916 men of the 1st Loyal North Lancashires were involved in one of the several subsidiary attacks that were meant to mislead the enemy as to the exact whereabouts of the forthcoming offensive. Preparations had been going on so long and in such a scale that it's highly unlikely the attack on the night of June 30th by units of the 2nd Brigade - the 2nd KRRC, 2nd Royal Sussex and men of the 1st Loyal North Lancashire - served any purpose at all. The attack was against a German position known as 'the Triangle' and was mainly carried out by the men of the KRRC and Royal Sussex but men of the Loyals were also involved. They went over the top after an insufficient artillery bombardment and came up against uncut wire.Many lives were lost and many more men wounded. At 21:15 three mines went up and shortly afterwards the British troops went over the parapet of their trenches. The fighting went on until about 02:00 the following morning. The men of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and Royal Sussex Regiment came out of it the worst, the losses of the 1st Loyal North Lancashires were 10 killed and 37 wounded. Joseph Quarmby was killed in the early hours of July 1st. He was the first of 13 Royton men to be killed that terrible day.
On July 14th near to Becourt Wood an attack was launched which involved men from A & B Companies of the 1st Loyals. The 2nd Brigade captured some 300 yards of the enemy frontline with the Battalion suffering some 50 casualties. The following morning at 07:15 the Battalion received orders to attack and attack German trenches just east of Pozieres. After advancing at 09:00 some 400 yards of trench was quickly captured (against the objective of 1200 yards) but further advance was checked by machine gun fire both from the trench itself and from the flanks. By 11:30 it was clear no further advance could be made and consolidation of the ground won, with help from men of the 2nd Welsh Regiment, then became the priority. At noon the Germans counterattacked and some 150 yards of trench was lost before quickly being regained. Unfortunately the British Artillery were not aware of the new situation and shells began to fall amongst the men of the 1st Loyals causing several casualties and a withdrawal from some of the recaptured trench. A further attack was later launched by the 2nd Welsh which failed and at 20:30 the 1st Loyals were withdrawn with the Welshmen taking their place in the line.
A short quiet spell followed with the men occupied in improving existing trenches and digging a new advanced assembly trench. Then in the early hours of July 24th the 1st Loyals were tasked with the capture of a German position known as Munster Alley. C Company was to make the attack but again the ferocity of the German machine gun fire was too heavy and it was quickly realised that persistence in the task was futile. On July 26th the men were brought out of the line and rested for a week at Franvillers. This short time away from the line ended when they went up to the area around High Wood as the reserve battalion of the 2nd Brigade. At this time the strength of the Battalion was 16 officers and 522 other ranks (at full strength there would have been about 1000 men).
The 1st Loyals were to take part in operations on August 18th which would result in William Schofield's death.The men attacked the German line at the north west corner of High Wood. Ten days later an officer, Major Phillips, recalled the action:
"At zero time - 2:45pm - the right platoon, which was detailed to attack the trench and to form a strong point at the north-west corner of High Wood, left it's trenches and was seen to advance into our own bombardment, which was not timed to lift until later. The remainder appear to have followed too quickly and suffered a similar fate, though up to the present no survivors have been found able give any reliable account"
The left platoon delayed it's assault and advancing behind the British barrage entered the German trench without too much difficulty. To their right the trench was empty of Germans but also of their own comrades who had been wiped out by the British artillery fire, they extended their line along the trench and consolidated their position. William Schofield had been killed and in the absence of his body being found was listed as missing. His parents received notification of this on Monday September 4th. A year later they were informed that his body had been identified on June 4th 1917, this was reported in the Oldham Chronicle of September 8th 1917. Just two days after that William's brother Tom was killed in action. Despite his body later being identified it was perhaps not possible to recover it as William has no known grave and his name can be found on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
The other men of the 1st Loyals listed as being killed that day were:
ALLEN JOHN 23 Private 10542 from Preston
ANGLEZARKE ROBERT 28 Private 19938 from Chorley
BARLOW WALTER Private 23167 born Walkden,enlisted Farnworth
BEDDALL ALFRED Private 23489 born Berkhamsted
BLADES THOMAS Private 20533 from Chorley
BLEASE WILLIAM 30 Lance Corporal 19226 from Atherton
BURDEKIN GEORGE Private 3111 from Oldham
CARTMAN HAROLD Private 23170 born Bolton,enlisted Bury
CROOK CHARLES Private 2565 from Bolton
CROSS ELIJAH Private 12816 from Preston
CROSS MAURICE 26 Captain from Devon
DICKINSON GEORGE 22 Private 22525 from Ashton-in-Makerfield
FOSTER GEORGE Private 23259 from Bolton
GREENHALGH ALBERT 27 Private 23177 from Little Lever
GREGORY THOMAS Private 3967 from Sheffield
HADDOCK PERCY Private 23238 from Bolton
HADFIELD ARTHUR Lance Corporal 16416 from St.Helens
HARDY WILLIAM Private 2501 from Liverpool
HARGREAVES WILLIAM Private 23234 from Bolton
HAYES WILLIAM Private 18780 from Farnworth
INGHAM JOHN 21 Private 12813 from Preston
ISMAY JOSEPH 33 Lance Corporal 4554 from Liverpool
JOHNSON ALBERT Serjeant 6117 born Woolwich,enlisted Malta
KEANE DOMINICK Private 17148 born Roscommon,enlisted Bolton
LISTER ALBERT Private 22197 born Cockermouth,enlisted Manchester
LUCOCK WILLIAM 20 Private 23282 from Bolton
MADDOCK STANLEY 21 Private 15748 from Salford
MAKINSON JAMES 22 Private 19790 from Horwich
MASSEY THOMAS Private 20296 from Oldham
MURPHY THOMAS Private 19947 born Farnworth,enlisted Bolton
POULTON VINCENT 25 Corporal 13158 from Preston
PRICE SAMUEL Private 16493 from Bolton
SHAW JOHN Private 19003 from Garstang
TRIMMER JAMES 26 Serjeant 9374 from London
TRIPP DONALD 26 Captain
WALKER CHRISTOPHER 19 Private 2557 from Preston
WARREN EDWARD Private 18095 from Bolton
WATKINSON HENRY 28 Lance Corporal 21447 from Kirkham
WILKINS THOMAS 29 Private 23260 from Farnworth
Date of Death:18/08/1916
Regiment:The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
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