Rifleman R/14928 William Sidney Wesson

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 11th April 1917, age unknown.
Buried in Grave I. D. 10. at Tigris Lane Cemetery, Wancourt, Pas De Calais, France.

7th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 41st Brigade of 14th Division.

Son of Mrs Lizzie Wesson and the late Mr Samuel Weston, of 109, Bloomfield Rd., Princes End, Tipton, Staffs
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 survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/301433/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
1 Lorne Street, Coseley, Staffs.
Samuel Wesson (60, Iron Works Labourer, born Coseley), his wife Lizzie (38, Tailoress, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Samuel J. (7, born Tipton), William S. (4, born Tipton), and Hilda (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
109 Bloomfield Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Wesson (70, Stocktaker, born Coseley), his wife Lizzie (48, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Joseph (16, Plate Driller, born Tipton), William S. (14, Fender Fitter, born Tipton), and Hilda (12, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

William's brother, Joseph Wesson, was killed in 1916.

William attested with the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) on 4th August 1915. He was 19 years of age, employed as a labourer, 5 feet 2½ inches tall, and weighed 121 pounds.

After training with the 15th KRRC, he arrived in France and was posted to the 11th KRRC on 22nd June 1916. On 9th August 1916, possibly at Guillemont, he was gassed and subsequently treated at the 11th Field Ambulance, 10th Casualty Clearing Station, and the 3rd Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne. After another 11 day spell in 7th Canadian General Hospital at Havre in October, William was posted to the 7th KRRC on 29th October 1916. In December 1916, he spent 2 days in 44th Field Ambulance suffering from 'ametropia,' a blurring of vision.

On 15th February 1917, William was charged with 'improper conduct whilst on telephone duty', and deprived of 4 days pay.

William is commemorated on St. John's Memorial as just W. Wesson.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Arras commenced on 9th April 1917, William's 7th KRRC were in reserve, in tunnels beneath Arras. After coming into action on the 10th April, their significant action was on the 11th when they were ordered to attack the village of Wancourt, to the east of Arras in the direction of Cambrai.

Hill 90 dominated the battlefield, and as it had not been captured posed a grave threat to the 7th KRRC attack. Their Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Bury, made representations to Brigade, but the attack was ordered to continue. The attack against Hill 90 by the 56th Division did not take place, and the result for the 7th KRRC was inevitable. The Official History says: "the attack had no chance of success, Fire from Hill 90 swept it in enfilade; the British barrage was ragged and frequently short, because adequate time had not been allowed for the transmission of orders. The two battalions did no more than reach their previous positions after heavy loss, especially in the 7/KRRC."

40 men and 5 officers of the 7th KRRC lost their lives on the 10th and 11th April, including William Wesson. William is buried in Tigris Lane Cemetery, Wancourt, along with 13 of his comrades of the 7th KRRC who fell in the same action.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald May 12th 1917
Among nearly a dozen Tipton soldiers who have met their death during the terrifying fighting of April is Rifleman W. Wesson of the King's Royal Rifle Corps who was killed on the 11th ult. His mother, who lives at 109 Bloomfield Road, is the widow of the late Samuel Wesson.