ID: IYS_145 / Edwin Sparrow

TitleWilliam Griffin Francis killed 23 April 1917

FRANCIS, William G.
Private Service No. 41658
C Company 9th Platoon 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment
Formerly G/15906, Royal West Kent Regiment.
Date of death 23 April 1917 age 35

William was born at Salcott c1882, son of William Francis. The 1901 census shows him aged 18 born & living in Salcot working as a bricklayer, and by 1911 he is described as a sea waller. William married Caroline Elizabeth Lewis on the 19 September 1914 at Saint Mary Tollesbury. They lived at Wharf Cottage Salcott. There was a daughter Vera Mary.

He enlisted at Colchester and resided at Whitham. He formerly served with the Royal West Kent Regiment. He served in France & Flanders. His attestation on the 19th June 1916, he was 35 years old and gave his occupation as a smallholder. He was 5 foot 6 ins tall, weighing 137lb with 36 ½ ins chest.

The 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd City) of the Manchester Regiment had been formed in Manchester on 28 August 1914, by the Lord Mayor and City. April 1915 it had been attached to 90th Brigade, 30th Division. This Division was originally part of the Fifth New Army, and was numbered 37th. However, the Fourth New Army was broken up in April 1915, and the Division was renumbered 30th, part of K4. It was formed of many units that had been raised by public subscription and private projects, and was only taken over by the War Office on 27th August 1915. The Division moved to France in November 1915. It served on the Western Front with distinction throughout the war. He was at home from the 19th January1916 until the 10th October 1916 crossing to France the next day.

William was killed in action during the Battle of Arras, 9 April to 15 May 1917 This was one of the most important campaigns in which the BEF was engaged, yet in comparison with the Somme of 1916 and Passchendaele of 1917, terribly neglected by historians. The British Army launched a large-scale attack at Arras, as part of a master plan by new French Commander in Chief Robert Nivelle. Although initially successful, it soon bogged down and became a terribly costly affair. The British attack was against the formidable Hindenburg Line, to which the enemy had recently made a strategic withdrawal. The battle can be considered to be composed of a number of phases: specifically he fell during the Second Battle of the Scarpe - 23rd - 24th April 1917

A Regimental Aid Post on the open Arras battlefield, 1917

He earned the 1914-1920 War Medal and the 1914-1919 Victory Medal

William is commemorated on the Memorial in St Mary's Church, Salcott and at Cojeul British Cemetery, St. Martin-sur-Cojeul. Pas de Calais, France.

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Cojeul British Cemetery, St. Martin-sur-Cojeul
Salcott War Memorial

Original text from Ted Sparrow in If You Shed a Tear Part 1, and also as a Memorial Profile. Original Memorial Profile is Memorial Profile FRANCIS William G.pdf
Feb 2021 web version based on Memorial Profile. Note that the Medal Card in the National Archives records William as being in the Royal Kent Regiment and the Middlesex Regiment

AuthorEdwin Sparrow
SourceMersea Museum