Lance Serjeant 4285 William Griffiths

Griffiths William 4285 96 500x750
Photograph courtesy of great-nephew David Underhill.

Killed in Action on Sunday, 16th May 1915, age 39.
Commemorated on Panel 17 and 18 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 5th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 12th August 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 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/857209/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
49 Hall Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Griffiths (39, Furnaceman in Forge, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (39, born Tipton), and their 6 children: (William (16, Furnace Door Drawer, born Tipton), Annie Sophia (14, Scholar, born Tipton), Edward (9, Scholar, born Tipton), Elijah (7, Scholar, born Tipton), Elizabeth (5, Scholar, born Tipton), and David (5 months, born Tipton). Also Albert Rudge (19, Visitor, Barber’s Apprentice, born Ettingshall).

1901 Census
The Worcestershire Regiment, Norton Barracks, Worcester.
William Griffiths, Private, age 25, single, born Tipton, Staffs.

Marriage of William Griffiths and Emily Skidmore registered December quarter 1902 in Stourbridge (actually 11th October 1902).
Birth of Albert Edward Griffiths registered April quarter 1903 in Dudley (actually 28th March 1903).
Birth of Emily Constance Griffiths approximately July 1910 in India.

1911 Census
2nd Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment, Jhansi; India.
William Griffiths, Private, age 35, married, born Tipton, Staffs.
1911 Census
Married Quarters, Jhansi; India.
Emily Griffiths (34, Married 8 years, born Stourbridge). and her 2 surviving children of 3: Albert (7, born Stourbridge) and Emily (9 months, born India, British Subject).

Personal Data

William Griffiths was the eldest of 3 Griffiths brothers who lost their lives in the Great War. William was killed serving with the Worcesters in May 1915, Elijah also serving with the Worcesters in April 1916, and Paul serving with the South Staffs in October 1917.

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £48/5/2d (48 pounds, 5 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his brother and sole executor, Edward, in June 1916. His War Gratuity was £6/0/0d (6 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his brother in July 1919. William was already a serving soldier when war was declared.

Action resulting in his death

Battle of Festubert 16th May 1915, from "The History of the Worcesterhire Regiment" by Stacke.
The Worcestershire Companies rose to their feet and plunged forward through the mud. Surprise was now impossible; the German flares lit up the scene and the companies had some 200 yards to traverse before they could close with the enemy.

In the changing light of the flares, control was difficult - companies and platoons became disordered; officers and men fell in rapid succession under a hail of bullets. The survivors rushed on in little groups up to the German wire entanglements. The majority of the attackers were either shot down or driven by the fire to shelter in such cover as was afforded by shell holes or small folds in the ground.

The Worcestershire platoons made their way back as best they could to billets behind the line. When all were collected it was found that over 250 of all ranks had been lost. This included 4 Tipton men who were to lose their lives: Parkes, Griffiths, Southall and Taylor. William Griffiths has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

County Express 12th June 1915
The War.
Lye Lance-Sergeant's Death.
We briefly announced last week the death of Lance-Sergeant Griffiths of the 2nd Worcesters, and of Pearson Street, Wollescote, who was killed in action at Richebourg, on May 16th. Lance-Sergeant Griffiths joined the Army 20 years ago and had seen much service abroad. Early in his service he lost the sight of his left eye, destroyed by the bursting of a mineral water bottle. He proceeded to the front on August 13th, and had since been promoted to Corporal and Lance-Sergeant. He was 39 years old, and leaves a widow and two children.

His Last Letter.
The last letter Mrs Griffiths received from her husband was dated May 13th and reached Lye on the 15th, the eve of the battle in which he died. In this letter he stated:- "We have started the Germans going at last. We have a hard task in front of us and we have got to go through with it. The French are doing remarkably well. We assisted them to capture 11 guns, 32 Maxims, 47 officers and 2,900 men. Can you send another battery for my flashlight?"

The deceased Lance-Sergeant had a number of interesting souvenirs of his long service, and especially of the current war. One was a silver medal of French design, bearing with other inscriptions the word:- "Liberte." Having killed a splendidly built Prussian officer, he found upon him a German medal, struck in August to commemorate the war, and bearing the profiles of the Austrian Emperor and the Kaiser. He also had two pipes which had belonged to the officer, and the diary of the fallen enemy, a translation of which was published in the County Express.