Private 76489 William Henry Hadley

Killed in Action on Monday, 27th May 1918, age 18.
Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France.

22nd Bn., Durham Light Infantry. Pioneer Battalion of 8th Division.

Son of Harry Vernon and Edith Hadley, of 41, Cleton St., Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Mission Church Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1758406/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Henry Hadley registered September quarter 1899 in Dudley.

1901 Census
3 Danks Street, Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Harry Hadley (62, Galvaniser, born Stourbridge), and his son and family:
Harry Hadley (30, Galvaniser, born Birmingham), his wife Edith (23, born Coseley), and their six children: Harry V. (8, born Dudley), William H. (1, born Dudley), and unnamed infant (less than 1 month, born Tipton).

1911 Census
13 Gilbert Street, Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Harry Vernon Hadley (40, Labourer in Ironworks, born Winson Green), his wife Edith (33, born Princes End), and their six children: Harry Vernon (18, Iron Moulder, born Dudley), William Henry (11, School, born Dudley), Percy Roland (10, School, born Tipton), Leslie John (7, born Tipton), Constance (5, born Tipton), and Frederick Arthur (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/16/8d (3 pounds, 16 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his father, Harry V., in November 1919. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in approximately February 1917.

Action resulting in his death

At the end of April 1918, five divisions of Commonwealth forces (IX Corps) were posted to the French 6th Army in the Soissons area to rest and refit following the German offensives on the Somme and Lys. This included the 8th Division, with the 22nd Durham Light Infantry as the Pioneer Battalion.

Here, at the end of May, they found themselves facing the overwhelming German attack which, despite fierce opposition, pushed the Allies back across the Aisne to the Marne. The Battle of the Aisne commenced on 27th May 1918, and continued until 6th June.

The Battle of the Aisne began with a German attack in the early morning mist of 27th May. Their superior numbers forced the British into retreat, albeit with some heroic stands to slow the German advance. At 10.00am, the remaining British reserves were brought into action, and the 22nd D.L.I. Pioneers were isolated and surrounded, but still holding portions of the Bois de Gernicourt.

By the evening, the British line had been forced back over 3,000 yards. On the day, the 22nd D.L.I. had 72 men killed, and it is a reflection of the severity of the fighting that 68 of these men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Soissons Memorial. William Hadley is one of the 68 men who have no known grave.

The Battle of the Aisne continued until 6th June. The Germans succeeded in pushing the Allies across the Aisne and down as far as the Marne at Chateau Thierry, capturing the towns of Soissons and La Fere-en-Tardenois as they did so.

Newspaper Cuttings