William was born in Ysceifiog in 1885 to his parents Joseph and Ann. At the time of the 1891 census he had an older brother Thomas who was eight and a younger brother Albert who was three years old. The family lived in Ffynnon y Cyff in Lixwm with the older children attending school and William’s father’s occupation recorded as a lead miner and typically he would have worked in one of the many lead mines around Halkyn and Rhesycae. Life would have been quite challenging and working in the lead mines was indeed a hazardous occupation. The family were all bi-lingual and all had been born in Ysceifiog. Ffynnon y Cyff is still a dwelling in Lixwm to the present day.
By the time of the 1901 census William’s father had passed away and the family had moved to live Llannerch y Baedd in Ysceifiog and William’s mother Ann was now recorded as working as a charwoman, his brother Thomas was a lead miner and William worked as a cattleman on a local farm.
By 1911 the three sons lived in a two roomed house in Lixwm and by now their mother had also passed away. Thomas was still a lead miner and the two younger brothers worked as horsemen on a farm.
By 1916 William had moved on from working on the local farms and at the time of his enlistment into the 12th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in January of that year, he was working as an Asylum Attendant at the County Asylum, Upton, Chester, now aged 29 years.
Once on active service in the Balkan theatre of war William suffered with many ailments including malaria and severe haemorrhoids which meant many long spells in hospital. It seems highly likely that this young man from Wales like many others, was not suited to the hot climate and usually miserable conditions of trench warfare.
As an infantry soldier William would have been in the front line of battle in the trench warfare of the day. The following account from the Forces web page describes the Order of Battle: Battle Of Doiran 18th September, 1918.
Location: Pip Ridge. Bulgarian victory. A two-pronged Anglo-Greek and Franco-Serbian assault on Bulgarian positions in the Dorian-Vardar sector.
With the French and Serbians attacking in the west, on 18th September, British XII Corps comprising 22nd Division and Greek Serres Division, supported by a barrage from more than 230 artillery pieces attacked the Bulgarian positions between Lake Dojran and Pip Ridge, an area held by Bulgarian 9th (Pleven) Division. The same division which had bloodied the British assault less than one month earlier.
The attack was conducted with the British, on the right, attacking Pip Ridge and the adjacent hills, whilst on the left the Greeks attacked Petit Couronne and the positions around Lake Dojran. The 22nd Division attack was conducted by 66th Infantry Brigade and 67th Infantry Brigade, 77th Infantry Brigade of 26th Division providing the reserve as a bout of influenza amongst 65th Infantry Brigade left them unable to participate.
67th Brigade attacking around Sugar Loaf, 11th Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the right captured 0.6, where they were strongly counter-attacked, suffering heavy casualties before regrouping to attack The Hilt although not in enough numbers to hold it. 11th Welsh Regiment in the centre quickly captured The Fang before advancing either side of Jumeaux Ravine towards The Knot and The Tassel, where they were met by heavy mortar and machine-gun fire, driving the few survivors back to The Fang.
On the left 7th South Wales Borderers, assisted by 3rd Greek Regiment, attacked the Grand Couronne. Initially all went well, the Greeks taking Sugar Loaf and then The Tongue and The Maze before 7th South Wales Borderers moved through to assault the Grand Couronne.
Reaching the lower slopes they were met by machine-guns from three sides, only 55 survivors making it back. The Greeks being pushed off The Tongue and Sugar Loaf during the afternoon.
On the left, 66th Brigade attacked Pip Ridge, 12th Cheshire Regiment leading, 9th South Lancashire Regiment to move through for the second objective and 8th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry to the third. 12th Cheshire Regiment were met with such stiff resistance they were unable to clear all the initial objective, 9th South Lancashire Regiment suffering heavy casualties in their initial advance they were unable to reach the second objective and likewise 8th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
The survivors of all three battalions withdrawing to Jackson’s Ravine. The attack being renewed on 19th September, 77th Brigade and 9th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) of 65th Brigade, along with two regiments of the Serres Division providing the attacking force.
9th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) on Pip Ridge coming under fire from their own barrage as well as Bulgarian resistance. The attack meeting no greater success than the previous day but with the same high level of casualties.
The total British and Greek casualties in the failed attack at Dojran are estimated at between 6,500 and 7,500, 66th Brigade suffering 837 casualties, 65% of its strength, whilst 67th Brigade lost 60% of its. In contrast the Bulgarians lost rather less than 3,000.
Two days later, British and Greek troops advanced again but found the Bulgarian line deserted; at Dobro Pole in the Vardar valley, a Franco-Serbian victory had caused the vanquished Bulgarian Army to withdraw and avoid being isolated. The exhausted and depleted British Army could do little more than mount nuisance attacks against the Bulgarian rear guards although the Royal Air Force continued to harry the enemy.
On 30th September, an Armistice with Bulgaria brought the end of hostilities in Macedonia.
No further advance was made before noon on 30th September, when the Armistice with Bulgaria brought hostilities in Macedonia to a close.
His Army record indicates:
Reported missing 18 Sept 18.
Killed in action Salonica 18.9.18
Total service 2 years 251 days
Enlisted 11.1.16 to Cheshires as infantry soldier