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William Holden was the son of William and Ellen Holden and brother of Mary and lived at 23 Skeffington Road, Preston.  Before the war he worked as a weaver at Horrockses, Crewdson and Co’s Mill.

William originally enlisted in the Border Regiment but was discharged after 5 days due to a problem with his chest. On 17th December 1914 he enlisted again, this time into the Territorial Force joining the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.  He was given the number 3450 which changed to 201143 when the TF were renumbered in 1917.

At his enlistment medical, the officer recorded that he was 19 years 4 months old, was 5ft 8in tall and was of good physical development.

Author’s note:  There is a slight disparity with his age.  The CWGC wrongly recorded his age as being 19 when he was killed in 1916 – the 1911 census proves he was 19 when he enlisted in 1914.

William was embodied immediately and began his military training.  Between June and November 1915 he served with the 42nd Prov. Bn before being transferred into the 2/4th Battalion of the Loyals.

On 10th February 1916 Private Holden embarked at Southampton, landing at Rouen the following morning. After a short period at the 55th Divisional Base Depot he joined the 1/4th Battalion in the field on 2nd March.

William was reported as missing in action on 9th September 1916.  His family placed the following advertisement in the local newspaper requesting information about their son;


Battalion History: At 16:45hrs on 9th September 1916 the 1/4th Battalion was part of an attack launched by XIV Corps. 164th Bde (including B and C Companies of 1/4th LNL) were to attack and take a line of trenches that ran between Ginchy and Delville Wood. The plan was to ‘go over the top’ and take Hop Alley and then Ale Alley. Hop Alley was taken, but Ale Alley wasn’t reached due to the intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire. The attackers fell back to their original line.

The casualties were heavy, 24 men killed including Second Lieutenants W. E. Pyke and E. F. Falby. There were also 125 men wounded; and a further 79 men missing, many were later also identified as having been killed.

William was still recorded as missing in 1917 and thus was allocated the new style TF number. He had infact already been buried at Delville Wood Cemetery.  The bodies in the unmarked graves at Delville Wood were later exhumed for identification purposes – the identity disc they found on his body was returned to his parents.

His father received William’s British War Medal and Victory Medal in addition to the memorial plaque and scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 201143
Date of Death: 09/09/1916
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Paul McCormick
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