Serjeant 14742 William Tibbs

Tibbs William 96 446x600Tibbs William 96 391x600

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 15th November 1916, age 35.
Buried in Grave II. A. 18. at Serre Road Cemetery No. 2, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Son of William and Sarah Ann Tibbs, of Tipton, Staffs; husband of the late Eliza Tibbs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

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 Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/610023/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Tibbs registered September quarter 1881 in Dudley.

1901 Census
35 Workhouse Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
William Tibbs (50, Iron Worker, born Tipton), his wife Sarah Jane (45, born Wolverhampton), and their 6 children: Hannah (23, born Tipton), William (19, Ironworker, born Tipton), Alice (15, Tailoress, born Tipton), Florence (13, born Tipton), Nelly (10, born Tipton) and Elsie Violet (6, born Tipton).

Marriage of William Tibbs and Eliza Paskin registered September quarter 1901 in Dudley.

1911 Census
6 Spring Vale, Tipton, Staffs - in 2 rooms.
William Tibbs (29, Boatman - Canal Dredging, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (28, born Tipton), and their 4 children: William (9, born Tipton), Emma (7, born Tipton), John (4, born Tipton) and Alice (2, born Tipton).
Three further children were born: Sarah Ann on 29th July 1911, Joseph in March quarter 1914, and Leslie on 15th June 1916. Joseph died in March quarter 1916, at 2 years of age.

Personal Data

William Tibbs is my Great-Uncle Bill, my paternal grandmother's brother. He volunteered in 1914, but as he is only recorded as having the British War Medal and Victory Medals, he must have arrived in France in 1916.

Bill was a married man with six children, tragically his widow died in the week before the armistice during the 'Spanish flu' pandemic. She was buried in Tipton Cemetery on 12th November 1918.

After Bill's death, his outstanding pay and allowances of £4/12/1d (4 pounds, 12 shillings and 1 penny) was paid to his widow, Eliza, in October 1917. His War Gratuity of £12/0/0d (12 pounds exactly) was paid in December 1919 by which time his widow Eliza had died. The War Gratuity was split to the guardians of his children: Guardian Sarah A. Paskin - £8, Sister-in-Law and Guardian Susey Simpson - £2, and Son William Tibbs - £2. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Bill had enlisted in approximately October 1914.

William’s widow, Eliza, was awarded a Widow's Pension of £1/16/3d (1 pound, 16 shillings and 3 pence) per week for herself and her 6 children, effective from 20th August 1917. She also received a £5/0/0d grant on 30th April 1918. Her address was given as 6 Spring Vale, Tipton. The pension in respect of the 6 children would have continued until their 16th birthdays. Eliza died in November 1918, but there is no indication of this and the resultant pension reduction on the Pension Card.

As well as a Widow’s Pension to William’s widow, a Dependant’s Pension was paid to his mother, Mrs Sarah Tibbs. Her husband, also William Tibbs, had been killed in an industrial accident in 1909. Sarah’s address was given as 27 Alexandra Road, Tipton, later 51 Alexandra Road. This pension was 12/6d (12 shillings and 6 pence) per week from 1st September 1917 to 13th March 1922, then increasing to 15/0d (15 shillings) per week until 11th September 1922, and to £1/0/0d (1 pound exactly) until 3rd September 1923. There is no indication of payment amounts up to her death in 1932.

Action resulting in his death

William Tibbs was killed in the final 1916 action by the 2nd South Staffs, the attack near Serre on the Quadrilatteral Redoubt and the Redan Ridge. Between the 13th and 15th November, 56 men of the 2nd South Staffs were killed, of these 4 were from Tipton: Joseph Fellows and Joseph Perry on the 13th, and William Day and William Tibbs on the 15th November.

The CWGC Grave Registration records show that both Day and Tibbs were buried in Serre Road No. 2 Cemetery on 26th May 1917, 6 months after their deaths. This suggests that their bodies could not be recovered from the battlefield until after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March/April 1917.

Fellows and Perry have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

For anyone wanting more detail, the actions of the day are well covered by an extract from the 2nd South Staffs War Diary, and then a quote from Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp's superb book "When the Whistle Blows" about the Footballer's Battalions.

2nd South Staffs War Diary: 12th - 15th November 1916
12th. The Battalion moved into assembly trenches South of SERRE and during the night formed up for attack. There was practically no hostile shelling and no casualties occurred during the process of forming up.

13th. The Battalion successfully crossed the German front line and assaulted the second line wire, which was practically uncut. The battalions from the left divisions came across our front breaking up our formations. Reorganisation was rendered difficult by the bluey mist. Casualties among officers and other ranks were very heavy. Among others two company commanders are missing - one known to be wounded, two subalterns are missing and believed killed, several other subalterns were wounded; the four Company Sergeant Majors were wounded, C.S.M. Cox remained on duty till the battalion was relieved. The Chaplain joined Battalion H.Q. and acted as dresser. The old defensive lines in MONK and LEGEND were reoccupied.

14th November.
A shell burst in a small dugout close to Battalion H.Q. killing 2/Lt. Brooks and wounding two other officers.
Several casualties occurred in the trenches. On the night 13th/14th many casualties were evacuated from the dugouts in MONK and DELAUNAY. On the night of the 14th the Medical Officer was withdrawn from his aid-post in WOLF to Battalion H.Q.

15th November.
4th Royal Fusiliers relieved the Battalion. The bulk of the Battalion went back to ELLIS SQUARE at 9.30 a.m. but the detachments in MONK were not relieved until 10 p.m. owing to a heavy barrage of that trench.
The Battalion was taken back to MAILLY MAILLET during the afternoon by Major Wilson. Battalion H.Q. reached MAILLY at 11.30 p.m.

From Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp's superb book "When the Whistle Blows".
In October and November 1916 an attack was to take place south of Gommecourt by Gough's Reserve Army (which became the 5th Army) to which the 2nd Division had been transferred; the 2nd Division's role was to take the Redan Ridge. In October training took place in Puchevillers, with a small-scale model of the Redan Ridge being constructed to help assimilate the ground conditions.
From the middle of October weather conditions deteriorated and mud made even basic survival a trial. The attack was postponed a number of times due to the weather.
The Germans, aware of the impending attack, bombarded the front line, destroying whole sections. Much of the remaining trench was knee-deep in mud and water. The attack was set for 5.45am on the 13th November, thick fog settled round Serre on the night preceding the attack. No man's land was also in a terrible state.
Advancing through thick fog, by 6.15am the first waves of the 2nd South Staffs had taken the German front line. A few casualties were taken, largely as the left hand company had advanced too close to the British barrage. Advancing on, the 2nd South Staffs found the wire virtually uncut in front of the German support line. Confusion over direction and mixed-up battalions, plus of course the mud, caused the 2nd South Staffs to lose the barrage. Once the barrage had passed, the Germans emerged from the safety of their dugouts. Machine Gun fire from Serre and the Quadrilateral now started to give many casualties, and the German artillery was now putting down a heavy barrage.
The fog began to lift giving the German machine gunners the visibility to do their worst, taking many men in enfilade, others were captured by German troops. Others began to fall back to the British front line, numbers were such that a composite battalion of 2nd South Staffs and 17th Middlesex was formed. The objective for the rest of 13th November was to be to repel German counter attacks - these did not arise but the German artillery was busy for the remainder of the day. Ultimately the day was a costly failure for the 2nd South Staffs. Further south, at Beaumont Hamel, Beaucourt and south of the Ancre, the objectives had been won.
The morning of the 14th November was misty, but enemy artillery was still active, this was the dominant feature of the day. On the 15th, the 2nd South Staffs was relieved and "marched" back to Mailly Maillet.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 30th January 1915
Roll of Honour: 27 Alexandra Road - W. Tibbs.

Birmingham Daily Post 22nd December 1916
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
South Staffords- Tibbs, 14742, Sgt., W., (Tipton).

Birmingham Daily Gazette 2nd February 1917
Midlands Names in the Roll of Honour.
South Staffords- Tibbs, 14742, Sgt., W., (Tipton).

Birmingham Daily Post 14th July 1917
The following casualties amongst warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and men are reported under various dates:
Previously reported wounded, now reported killed.
South Staffords- Tibbs, 14742, Sgt., W., (Tipton).