Private 14409 William James Southall

Southall William 96 400x600Southall William 96 440x236
Further photograph at bottom of page.

Killed in Action on Friday, 14th July 1916, age 21.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 2 C of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

8th Bn., East Yorkshire Regiment. 8th Brigade of 3rd Division.
Formerly 23353 Hussars.

Son of Mrs Martha A. Southall, of 22, High St., Prince's End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Coseley, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Princes End.

First landed France & Flanders, 9th September 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. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/813629/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
38 Victoria Street, Coseley
Joseph Southall (39, Iron Works Shearer, born Princes End), his wife Martha A. (37, born Netherton), and their 4 children: Caroline (7, born Princes End), William J. (6, born Princes End), Arthur E. (4, born Princes End), and Rosehannah M. (2, born Princes End).

1911 Census
38 Victoria Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Southall (49, Sheet Iron Worker, born Sedgley), his wife Martha Ann (47, born Netherton), and their 5 surviving children of 6: Caroline (17, born Sedgley), William James (16, Iron Foundry Labourer, born Sedgley), Arthur Edward (14, Iron Foundry Labourer, born Sedgley), Rosehannah (12, School, born Sedgley), and Joseph (9, School, born Sedgley).

Personal Data

William Southall enlisted 9th September 1914, probably with the Hussars, initially reporting to the depot at Scarborough. He was employed as a Moulder, and was 19 yrs old. He was 5ft 4 inches tall, weighed 125 lbs, a 34½ inch chest with good physical development. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair and was a Primitive Methodist. Just over a month after enlisting, on 17th October 1914, he was transferred to the 8th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.

William landed in France on 9th September 1915 with the 8th East Yorks as part of 21st Division. The Division was rushed with indecent haste to be brought into action on the second day of the Battle of Loos, 26th September 1915. They had no time for familiarisation and had little understanding of their role, 76 Other Ranks were killed on the day for no gain.

The 8th East Yorks was transferred from 21st to 3rd Division, and was sent to the Ypres sector in November 1915 where they saw action at "The Bluff" near Hill 60, and at St. Eloi.

In March 1916 William was hospitalised suffering from Myalgia, which is general muscle pain. This is now known to be an after-effect of 'Trench Fever', a fever caused by body lice. This lead to stays at the 51st Field Ambulance, 15th Casualty Clearing Station, 20th General Hospital at Camiers, and the Convalescent Depot at Etaples.

By July 1916, the 3rd Division was in the Somme area, and although not involved in the 1st Day of the Somme (1st July 1916), was to be brought into action in the second phase commencing on the 14th July. This was the day William was killed in action.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, launched at dawn on 14th July 1916, marked the start of the second phase of the Battle of the Somme. It turned out to be hugely successful but the British failed to exploit their advantage in the wake of the victory and as German resistance stiffened, a period of bloody attrition began.

At 3.20am the British artillery opened their intense bombardment on the German front-line trenches. At 3.25am, when the bombardment lifted to the second-line reserve trenches, the infantry rushed in. The bombardment fell on the reserve trenches for a further two minutes before lifting again. The first wave of British infantry, made up of bombing parties, was to push straight on to the reserve trenches, leaving the following waves to mop up the front-line.

On the left of the attack, the 7th and 21st Divisions had captured the village of Bazentin le Petit. On the right the 9th Division took Longueval and reached the fringe of Delville Wood.

In the centre, things did not go well for the 3rd Division attacking from Montauban towards Bazentin le Grand. The German wire was uncut and the defenders alert. The German defensive barrage on no-man's-land missed the assaulting battalions but caught the supporting waves.

The 8th East Yorks, including William Southall, were part of 3rd Division attacking towards Bazentin le Grand. They had 113 Other Ranks killed on that day, including William Southall who has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
(courtesty www.21stdivision1914-18.org/bazentin.htm)

Newspaper Cuttings


Southall William Plaque 96 500x500
William Southall's Memorial Plaque, known as the 'Death Penny'.