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William Delaney was born in August 1897 in Bamber Bridge. His father was John Delaney (b. 1865 in Ashton in Makerfield), a cotton grinder. His mother was Ellen Naylor (b. 1868 in Bamber Bridge). The Delaney family moved to Bamber Bridge in the 1870s. William and Ellen were married at Brownedge St Mary’s in 1890 and they had 8 children, 6 of whom survived infancy: John (b. 1891), Elizabeth Ann (b. 1892), Jane Alice (1895-1905), then William, then Mary Ann (b. 1900), Peter (b. 1902) and finally Vincent (b. 1904). In 1911, the family was living at 13 School Lane, Bamber Bridge, and William, aged 13, had started work as a tenter in the cotton mill and would soon become a weaver.

William had just turned 17 when he enlisted on 8 September 1914, though he claimed to be 19. He was 5’ 4” tall and weighed 112lbs. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was assigned service number 14311 and posted to 9th Battalion. He embarked for France on 25 September 1915. In April and May 1916 he underwent training in the field with the Brigade Machine Gun Company and he then rejoined the Battalion. 9th (Service) Battalion came under orders of 74th Brigade in 25th Division.

In 1916, during the early phase of the Battle of the Somme, the Division was divided and on 5 July 74th Brigade, now attached to 12th (Eastern) Division took part in the attack on Ovillers. 25th Division was concentrated in the area of Ovillers during the Battle of Bazentin. Casualties were heavy and no significant gains made. They then moved to the northern part of the sector and took part in the Battle of Pozières and finally that year in the Battle of the Ancre Heights. On 26 September, 74th Brigade took over a sector of line immediately south of the River Ancre. The rest of the Division followed. After a series of small scale raids and operations, a major attack was made by the Division on 9 October – in appalling ground conditions – that captured the northern face of Stuff Redoubt. German counter attacks were beaten off, before another attack went in to capture “The Mounds” just north of Stuff Redoubt. The map shows the Thiepval area of the Somme in September and October 1916.

The first quarter of 1917 was spent in the Ploegsteert sector. This was a relatively quiet time punctuated by frequent raids and minor operations.

The Battle of Messines 7-14 June 1917
The Division was selected to make the assault and was placed in the front line between the Wulverghem-Messines and Wulverghem-Wytschaete roads. The New Zealand Division was on the right and the 36th (Ulster) Division on the left of 25th Division. The attack was made by 74th Brigade on the right, 7th Brigade on the left, with 75th Brigade in close support.

The map shows the position of 25th Division at the start of the battle. The attack was a success and the Messines Ridge was taken in an hour and forty minutes but not without serious losses: 9th Battalion had one officer and 77 Other Ranks killed, and 12 officers and 272 Other Ranks were wounded, and 6 missing. The Battalion was relieved on June 9 but they returned to the trenches on several occasions before finally being withdrawn from the area on 25 June. Six men from 9Bn were killed on 20 June, including William Delaney, probably by a shell hitting their trench. William was 19 years old.

Rank: Private
Service Number: 14311
Date of Death: 20/06/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9Bn

Other men from 9Bn killed on 20 June 1917:

29942 Private HARRY NORTON
30092 Private JAMES TALBOT
16086 Private ALBERT YATES

Bill Brierley
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