Serjeant S/2246 William Henry Small

Killed in Action on Friday, 10th August 1917, age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 46 - 48 and 50 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

11th Bn., Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own). 59th Brigade of 20th Division.

Son of Samuel and Alice Small, of 37, Horseley Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 21st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Luke's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/917101/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
37 Horseley Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Small (34, Iron Sawyer, born Tipton), his wife Alice (30, born Tipton), and their 5 children: Florrie (9, born Tipton), Thomas (7, born Tipton), William (5, born Tipton), Samuel (3, born Tipton), and Fanny (10 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
37 Horseley Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Small (45, Widower, Sawyer Bridge Work, born Tipton), and his 7 surviving children of 9: Florrie (19, born Tipton), William (15, Bridge Worker, born Tipton), Samuel (13, Turner, born Tipton), Fanny (11, School, born Tipton), Albert (9, born Tipton), Alice (7, born Tipton), and Doris (5, born Tipton).

Personal Data

William enlisted in the Rifle Brigade on 7th September 1914 at Tipton, he was 19 years of age and employed as a Castings Dresser. He was 5 feet 7¾ inches tall, weighed 130 pounds with a 34½ inch chest. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and was Church of England. He may well have been a friend of Samuel Stanford as Samuel was numbered S/2248 and William S/2246.

Training took place at Aldershot, Guildford and Salisbury Plain, during which, on the 9th March, he was promoted to Corporal. The 11th Rifle Brigade, as part of the 20th (Light) Division, arrived in France on 21st July 1915. Their early familiarisation and training was in the Fleurbaix area.

William was hospitalised in February 1916 suffering from Trench Foot. This is caused by exposure to damp unsanitary conditions, generally trench duties in mud and water. Left untreated, it can lead to gangrene and even loss of the foot.

The 11th Rifles entered the Battle of the Somme on 16th August at Delville Wood. Here, on 2nd September 1916, William received a bullet wound to his back. This could not have been too serious as he re-joined his unit just a week later. William was in action again between the 3rd and 6th September at Battle of Guillemont. The Battle of Flers-Courcelette began on the 15th September, and William would have seen the first use of tanks in battle. On the 19th September he received another bullet wound, this time to the fingers on his right hand. This was a 'blighty' wound, as he was back in England from 21st September 1916 to the 7th February 1917. On his return to the 11th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, he was promoted to Sergeant.

Action resulting in his death

The third Battle of Ypres started on 31st July 1917 with some significant success along the whole front of the attack. Bad weather prevented any large scale renewal of the advance before the middle of August, but there were smaller actions to order to secure the best starting places for the next advance.

The 11th Rifle Brigade was in the Langemarck area at the north of the Ypres battlefield. They were faced with crossing the Steenbeek, so that the first move of the big operation should not have to include the crossing of that stream. The initial attack was to be made by the 10th King's Royal Rifles on 11th August.

William was not to see this attack, as he was killed on the 10th August. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The attack on the 11th August was unsuccessful with high casualties, three days later the operation was successfully carried out by the 10th and 11th Battalions Rifle Brigade.

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 9th October 1916
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
Rifle Brigade- Small, 2246, W.H., (Tipton).

Tipton Herald October 20th 1917
Tipton & District Notes
In official casualty lists, Pte C. Baker (Worcs) of Tipton is reported killed, as is Sergeant W.H. Small (Rifle Brigade).