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William Rosbottom was born in 1894 in Preston the son of James and Mary Jane Rosbottom (nee Billington). James and Mary Jane were married on Christmas Day 1888 in St. Peter`s Church in Preston. They had five sons and four daughters although sadly one of the boys died in infancy.

  • Isabella (1889)
  • Henry (1891)
  • Richard (1892)
  • William** (1894)
  • James (1896-1896)
  • Kate Louisa Billington (1898)
  • George Henry (1901)
  • Edith (1904)
  • Elsie (1909)

In 1901 the family were living at number 54 Isherwood Street in Preston but by 1911 they had moved to 15 Maudland Road. William`s father was employed on the railways as a platelayer and the older children including William were all working in a mill as weavers.

Pre- war William`s job had been a cloth carrier in Messrs. J and A Leigh`s Brookhouse Mill in Preston. On the 1 September, 1914 he left his job at the mill and went to the recruiting office to enlist.

At his medical inspection he declared his age as 19 years and 11 months. His height was measured at 5 feet 5 inches and his weight was recorded as 116 lbs. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair and the Medical Officer noted that he had mole just below his left ear. His address at the time was still at number 15 Maudland Street in Preston and William confirmed his next of kin as his mother Mary Jane.

William was passed fit for service and allocated the number 12475 and was then posted to the 7th Battalion. There appears to be just the one misdemeanour recorded in his papers which was for “being absent off pass” for one day in April, 1915. His punishment was to be confined to barracks for five days and he also had to forfeit one days` pay.

After a few months of training in England William embarked at Folkestone with the 7th Battalion on the 17 July, 1915 and sailed for Boulogne.

On the 18 March, 1916 he was evacuated to a field ambulance suffering from bronchitis and then spent a couple of weeks in hospital recovering from that before returning to duty on the 3 April, 1916. About three months later he was attached to a Lewis Gun Company.

On the 6 September, 1916 William was wounded in action having received gunshot wounds to his face, leg and right arm. After being evacuated to a field ambulance he was then sent back down the line to hospital in Wimereux. From there he was shipped back to England via the Hospital Ship St. David and by the 16 September he had been admitted to the Northumberland War hospital in Gosforth. William stayed in hospital recovering from his wounds until the 2 October, 1916 and then having been declared fit for duty he was allowed some home leave until the 12 October, 1916.

After spending a further three months in England William was sent back to France for the second time. He arrived with a batch of reinforcements on the 15 December, 1916 and three days later he was posted to the 9th Battalion.

William spent Christmas 1916 with the 9th Battalion in the trenches around Ploegsteert Wood.

The 9th Battalion were in the 25th Division of the 74th Brigade and during the early part of 1917 the Division had been moved around quite a bit until the 11th May when they were sent to the Wulverghem sector for the second time in a matter of weeks. They were to remain there holding the portion of the line allotted to them in the forthcoming Battle of Messines.

On the 7th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines William was killed in action. After being informed of his death William`s family posted the following photograph and information in the Preston Guardian.


A few of William`s personal belongings were eventually returned to his parents in Preston.

  • Photos
  • 2 Pocket Books
  • 1 Religious book
  • 1 Pouch
  • 1 Razor
  • Keys

William was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and he was buried with honour in St. Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery.

His family had the following inscription placed on his headstone.


Rank: Private
Service No: 12475
Date of Death: 07/06/1917
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.

Janet Davis
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