Date of Death:02/08/1917
William Spencer was born in Chadderton in 1897, the son of Joseph & Alice. He was the youngest of three siblings, his siblings being Mary Alice and Lily. Joseph worked as a cotton mill labourer.
By 1901 the family were living in Oldham at 35 Busk Street in Westwood. After that they moved to Royton, when is unknown, and could be found in 1911 at 14 Clare Street. At the age of 13
William was working in a rope works, most probably at Messrs A.B Sucksmith & Son's Rope Works in Shaw where he was working when he joined the army. In 1913 William's sister Mary Alice
married Edwin Parker.
William joined the army most probably in January 1917 and was sent out to active service around late March/early April of that year. The battalion that he was sent to, the 2nd/7th Manchester Regiment, had been out on active service since February. They had been formed in August 1914 when the territorial army 7th Battalion had been readied for active service and had become the 1st/7th.
The 66th Division of which the 2nd/7th were part moved in late June to the Belgian coast at Nieuport. The first week in July was spent in very necessary training, but by 15 July the 66th Division found themselves on the coastal sector under XV Corps command. Despite being ostensibly a quiet sector it was certainly not an easy posting.
In 199 Brigade, of which the 2nd/7th found themselves, alone two battalions were required for front line defence with the other two battalions – 1350 men in all - being used as carrying parties and on general work. This meant that training could not be carried out.
The latter half of July saw the 2nd/7th suffer a steady trickle of casualties - men being wounded or killed on most days. Then on August 2nd at 09:00 at Lombardsidje to the east of Nieuport a raid was mounted by men of the Battalion on a German outpost. It was a costly affair with the unit war diary recording casualties of 1 officer and 8 other ranks killed. 1 officer wounded,24 other ranks wounded, 6 other ranks missing. It would seem all six missing were killed and one of the wounded men also passed
away that day. One of those killed was 19 year old William Spencer.
A couple of weeks later William's father Joseph received the official notification that he had been killed.
On August 3rd 1918 the following appeared in the Oldham Chronicle from his family and Hannah who was presumably his girlfriend:
In loving memory of Private William Spencer, 2/7th Manchesters,
Who was killed in France August 2nd 1917.
He Sleeps besides his comrades
In a far off grave unknown.
But his name is written in letters of love
In the hearts he has left at home.
From his loving Father,sisters, and Hannah
and Aunts and Uncles - 14 Clare Street, Royton
The other men of the 2nd/7th Battalion Manchester Regiment to lose their lives on August 2nd 1917 were:
BRADBURY ALFRED 29 Serjeant 275747 from Manchester
BRASS GEORGE 19 Private 42320 from Sunderland
CANT ARTHUR 19 Private 42332 from Sudbury,Suffolk
COOKE LEOPOLD 31 Corporal 276030 from Manchester
FRENCH WILLIAM 32 Private 37033 from Liverpool
HANSELL WILLIAM 27 Private 303249 from Manchester
HOLLIDAY WILLIAM 19 Lance Corporal 277083 from Manchester
HULME GEORGE Private 277258 from High Legh,Cheshire
JONES EDWARD Private 277385 from Glamorgan
KELSALL ALBERT Private 276820 from Manchester
POTTAGE ALBERT Corporal 275423 from Manchester
POTTER GEORGE Serjeant 275448 from Ashton-under-Lyne
ROSE REGINALD 22 Second Lieutenant from Deal
SWINDELLS GEORGE 32 Private 400500 from Manchester
WHITTLE ALBERT 32 Private 277383 from Manchester