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36007 william whiteheadWilliam Whitehead was born in Edgworth on 3rd September 1897 and was the son of William and Ellen Whitehead. William and Ellen (nee Pilling) had married at the Parish Church in Bolton-le-Moors on 30th December 1878 and had eleven children but sadly only seven survived childhood.

On the evening of the 1901 census the Whitehead family were living at Higher Know Mill Farm, Edgworth but William Jnr isn’t listed.

At the time of the 1911 census William Jnr was 13 years old and living with his family at 6 Railway Terrace, Entwistle, Bolton. His father was a foreman platelayer on the L & Y railway where William Jnr’s brother, Herbert (b. c1889), also worked as a porter. Another brother, Harold (b. c1893), was a Calico printing labourer and his sisters Abigail (b. c1887) and Lavinia (b. c1896) were working in the cotton industry.

William enlisted in the Army at Bolton on 9th September 1916, electing to serve in the Royal Field Artillery. He was single, had just turned 19 years old and had been working as a machine minder in the textile industry (Calico Print Works) whilst still living with his parents on Railway Terrace.

calico print works

A typical machine in a Calico Print Works

The medical officer described William as being 5ft 7in tall and weighing 125lbs with a 38in chest. He gave his mother as his legal next of kin which may suggest his father had died at some point between 1911-1916; his mother had remarried by 1921, surname Howarth.

He was called up on 9th October 1916 and joined the Royal Field Artillery as a gunner with the number 171856. However, on 24th November he was transferred to the 76th Training Reserve Battalion (number TR/3/52439) and was then transferred to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment where he joined the 1st Battalion with the number 36007.

As a Private he sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne on 12th January 1917 where he spent four days in the 25th Infantry Base Depot at Etaples before joining the 1st Battalion in the field on 16th January. The War Diary records a draft of 240 other ranks joining, untrained.

Just seven weeks later, on 6th March 1917, William Whitehead was killed in action whilst in the trenches at Dompierre-Becquincourt. The War Diary for the days leading up to his death reads;


2nd March 1917: Battalion relieved the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in front line as left Brigade. Relief complete about 21:30hrs without casualties. Trenches much improved. Raid party left behind in training.

3rd March 1917: Quiet day, few casualties

4th March 1917: Quiet day, few casualties

5th March 1917: Faint bombardment of enemy front line trenches in front of Barleux Quarry. At 03:25hrs enemy retaliation was slight, and the rest of the day was fairly quiet.

6th March 1917: 1st Northampton Regiment raided the enemy trenches, south of Barleux Quarry. At 03:30hrs enemy retaliated vigorously throughout the day causing a number of casualties.

There were several other 1st Battalion casualties on this day;

  • 26119 PTE. R. WILDEN. L.N.LAN.R
  • 26924 PTE. J. FLYNN. L.N.LAN.R
  • 34469 CPL. F. GODDING. L.N.LAN.R
  • 23509 PTE. T. HALL. L.N.LAN.R
  • 29837 PTE. G. METCALFE. L.N.LAN.R
  • 24348 PTE. W. F. WALCH. L.N.LAN.R
  • 23194 PTE. J. WHALLEY. L.N.LAN.R

The body of 19 year old William Whitehead was not recovered from the battlefield and as such he is remembered on the Theipval Memorial to the Missing. No effects were returned to his family but his mother did later take receipt of William’s British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal in addition to a memorial plaque and scroll bearing his name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 36007
Date of Death: 06/03/1917
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Paul McCormick
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One Response to 36007 PTE. W. WHITEHEAD. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Carol Stobbs says:

    Hi Paul,
    Just to let you know that William was my Grandpa’s Uncle. He was born 4 days after William died and was named William Herbert after him. The family still has the war medals and death plaque.

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