Lance Corporal R/2004 William Thomas Wall

Wall William 96 406x600 Wall William 96 435x600
Photograph courtesy of Clive Stewart.

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 4th April 1917, age 24.
Buried in Grave VI. F. 16. at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, Nord, France.

10th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 59th Brigade of 20th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: West Bromwich, 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 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/248844/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Thomas Wall registered June quarter 1894 in Dudley.

1901 Census
6 Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs.
William Wall (34, Meter Inspector / Tobaconnist, born Droitwich), his wife Mary A. (32, born Tipton), and their 6 children: Henry G. (12, born America, British Subject), Horace (9, born Tipton), William (7, born Tipton), Bertha (4, born Tipton), Elsie (2, born Tipton), and Vincent (1 month, born Tipton). Also Elizabeth Williams (16, General Servant, born Tipton).

1911 Census
52 Queens Road, Tipton, Staffs.
William Wall (44, Water Meter Inspector, born Tipton), his wife Mary Ann (43, born Tipton), and 7 of their 9 surviving children of 9: William (17, Iron Moulder, born Tipton), Bertha (15, born Tipton), Elsie (12, born Tipton), Vincent (10, born Tipton), Ethel (8, born Tipton), Frank (5, born Tipton), and Amy Irene (2, born Tipton).

Personal Data

In August 1917, William's outstanding army pay and allowances was paid to his father, also William; this amounted to £7/3/0d (7 pounds and 3 shillings). In July 1920 William also received his son's War Gratuity of £12/0/0d (12 pounds exactly); this amount combined with his date of death suggests that he enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

During March 1917, the 10th King’s Royal Rifle Corps (10/KRRC) had advanced eastwards out of the Somme battlefield, and by 3rd April were in Dessart Wood to the south of Metz-en-Coutre, itself to the south-west of Cambrai.

On the 4th April, the 10/KRRC were to attack the German lines situated to their north and north-east. Along with their sister battalion the 11th, they were to take the village of Metz-en-Coutre.

At 2.00pm, in a heavy snowstorm, the 10/KRRC began their advance. For the first 15 minutes they met little resistance, but 800 yards from Metz-en-Coutre the German rifle and machine-gun fire began to find its distance.

On the left flank, the village of Metz-en-Coutre was captured. On the right flank 10/KRRC lost touch with the troops to their right, and a German counter-attack managed to get itself between the 10/KRRC first and second waves. This dangerous situation was resolved by the first wave returning and driving out the interlopers.

By 4.00pm all objectives had been taken. A German bombardment of Metz-en-Coutre at 6.30pm found the King’s Royal Rifles already digging in beyond the village, so causing little loss.

During the action, 10/KRRC had 6 Officers and 22 Other Ranks killed, this included William Wall. He was initially buried about a mile to the east of Metz-en-Coutre along with 11 of his comrades. After the war the battlefields of Cambrai were cleared, and these men of the King’s Royal Rifles were re-buried in Gouzeaucourt Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 28 April 1917.
A large number of friends will hear with great regret of the death of Lance-Corporal W. Wall, who was killed in action on the 4th inst. He was the son of Mr W. Wall, meter inspector of the South Staffs Water Company at Tipton.
A comrade writes:- "Wall was at first wounded in the leg, and then as he lay there moaning, a big pig of a German shot him dead. But the lads had their revenge; six rounds were put into the Hun and settled him. Wall did not feel much pain."
The Officer commanding the Company, in a letter to Lance-Corporal Wall's father, says that he was a splendid soldier and died gallantly in a glorious action when the result was beyond all doubt.
Lance-Corporal Wall joined the colours in August 1914 and had ten days leave from France at Christmas. Before the war he was employed as a moulder at the Norton Works, West Bromwich.