Private 10706 William Henry Bills

Bills William 96 411x600

Died of Wounds on Friday, 18th August 1916, age 18.
Buried in Grave VIII. H. 3. at Habarcq Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas De Calais, France.

'C' Company of 7th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 33rd Brigade of 11th Division.

Son of Richard Samuel and Jessie Mary Bills, of 33, Lea Brook Rd., Wednesbury.
Born: Ocker Hill, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Wednesbury.

First landed Balkans, 21st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/29613/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Henry Bills registered September quarter 1898 in Dudley.

1901 Census
148 High Street, Sedgley, Staffs.
In household of Benjamin and Maria Bills:
Jessie Bills (37, Sister-in-Law, Living on own means, born Plymouth) with her 3 children: Florence (12, born Plymouth), Richard (5, born Ocker Hill), and William (2, born Ocker Hill).
No sign of Richard Bills, her husband. They married in 1887 in Plymouth - could he have been in the Navy and hence away at sea at this time? He was also away in 1891 when Jessie was living with her eldset child in Plymouth.

1911 Census
10 Pitts Square, Leabrook Rd, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Richard Bills (44, Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Jessie (37, Sewing Machinist - Tailoring, born Plymouth) and 1 of their 2 surviving children of 4: William (12, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

William Bills attested for the South Staffs in 1914 when he would have been just 17 years old. He saw action throughout the Battalion's time in Gallipoli, was evacuated from the peninsula and arrived in France in July 1916.

The CWGC had William's date of death recorded as 18th May 1916, this was wrong as the 7th South Staffs were in Egypt at this time and William is buried in France. His Medal Index Card, SDGW, War Diary and Death Certificate all says 18th August 1916.
The CWGC now accept 18th August 1916 is correct, and have changed their database. Unfortunately they will be only change headstone when next renewed, as it is in perfect condition, this will be many decades away. (April 2010)

Action resulting in his death

Landing in France in July 1916, the 7th South Staffs were stationed near Arras. The War Diary records that on the 17th August, an enemy shell entered a billet and exploded. This seriously wounded William Bills, and he died from his wounds on the next day, and is buried at Habarcq Communal Cemetery Extension, just a mile south west of Arras.

War Diary 17th August 1916:
Enemy shelled HETSAS ST. on left of RONVILLE REDOUBT, also strongpoint at ACHICOURT searching for new gun emplacement. Also shelled the village itself. One High Explosive entered a billet.
9983 L/Cpl. CRILLY D.C. (slightly wounded) & 10706 Pte. BILLS W.H. (seriously wounded)

War Diary 18th August 1916:
10706 Pte. BILLS W.H. died of wounds received in action yesterday.

Newspaper Cuttings