Date of Death:19/04/1915
Cemetery:Chester Farm Cemetery
William's service medals. Photo courtesy of Jessica Jones
William joined up as a regular soldier, six months before the outbreak of war. It would seem that after the outbreak of war he spent some time with the 3rd Battalion which were on duty guarding the Humber estuary from possible German invasion. He was then assigned to the 2nd Battalion, which had been fighting on the Western Front since August 1914 (Royton man William Mills France had already been killed whilst serving with them, with John Buckley and John Saxon amongst the injured), and joined the unit on February 8th 1915 along with 80 other reinforcements. February and March were fairly quiet affairs but in the latter month, Royton man Allan Martin was shot by a sniper and died of his wounds. In April the battalion moved to man a sector of the Ypres front and suffered a steady drip of casualties. William was killed on the 19th, the unit's war diary baldly states "Casualties:6 killed, 10 wounded". He was one of the 28 killed from the battalion that month (including John Gavin) with a further 161 wounded.
The five men who died with William on April 19th were:
David Crawford Private 6368, born Belfast,lived Cleethorpes
William Grant,25,Private 2467 from Rochdale
William Hailstone,35,Private 5977 from Darwen
William Martin,45,Private 2998 born Stockton-on-Tees
William Whitehead,48,Private 2421 from Hollinwood
William Southworth was born in Oldham in 1892 to parents Elijah and Elizabeth. William was the third eldest of their six surviving children (3 sadly died in infancy), the others being Fanny, James, George, Elizabeth & Emma.
The Southworth's moved to Royton from the Westwood area of Oldham at some point between 1906 and 1910. Like most young men in the town, William was a piecer in a cotton mill. Before he joined up he was at Shiloh Mill Number 2 practically next door to where the family lived.