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William Bilsborough was the son of Samuel and Mary Ellen Bilsborough (nee Hankinson), of Villiers-street, Preston.

On 29th September 1914, 30 year old William Bilsborough enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire at Preston, he was posted into the 11th (Service) Battalion and given the service number 16757. He had previously served with the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers, and was a plasterer by trade.

At his enlistment medical he was described as being 5ft 5in tall and weighed 130lbs. He was of fresh complexion, with grey eyes and brown hair.

During his training in England, William was in trouble several times;

  • Disobedience
  • Breaking out of barracks, then absent until apprehended by the Military Police
  • Stating a falsehood to an NCO
  • Overstaying his pass following a tattoo

William was transferred into the 10th (Service) Battalion and sailed for France to join them in the field on 2nd September 1915*.

On 22nd April 1916, he received another Regimental entry, this time for ‘whilst on active service, leaving a working party without permission’.

On 17th July 1916, William was killed in action.

16th July 1916 – Pozieres

The Bn was detailed to proceed to the Chalk pit in close support of the 111th Brigade who were to attack POZIERES. The attack commenced at 09:00hrs, but they failed to gain their objective, suffering very heavy casualties.

At 16:00hrs the attack was renewed, this Bn being the 4th wave of the attack, again however our objective was not realised as the whole village of Pozieres whistled with machine-guns. We suffered almost 40 casualties including 2/Lieut Couper, Lieut Peskett, 2/Lieut Hays and 2/Lieut Wren.

17th July 1916 – Pozieres

Last night, very late we relieved all the Battalions in the new advanced positions just outside Pozieres, and suffered only two casualties in doing so.

One of which was 16757 Private William Bilsborough.

The following article appeared in Preston Guardian on 29th July, 1916.

16757 Private William Bilsborough 10th Bn

Pte W Bilsborough, L.N.L. Regt. who was killed in France, was one of five brothers serving in the Forces. Two are in the Navy, and the other two are with the Army in France. Mr Bilsborough, the father of the five, who resides at 87 Villiers street, Preston received a notification that his son William was killed in action on July 16th. This notification followed rapidly upon the receipt of a field postcard; which contained the cheery message “Pulled through again, father”. In the old volunteer days, Pte Bilsborough had been attached to the 5th L.A.V, but when war broke out he joined the L.N.L Regt, and was sent to France. He was 33 years of age, and by trade a plasterer. For eight years he had been in the employ of Mr George Eastwood, plasterer, Accrington, and gave up the position of foreman to undertake military services.

None of his personal effects were sent to his family as Williams body was not recovered, he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.

Rank: Private
Service No: 16757
Date of Death: 17/07/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

* His medal index card wrongly gives the date 31/07/1915 as his entry into theatre, this was the date the 10th Battalion first landed, however William was still in the UK as also confirmed by two of his Regimental entries.

Paul McCormick
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