Diddlebury War Memorial

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Diddlebury War Memorial - 1916 War Dead

This year the parish lost five men between February and November;

John Henry Williams                          11-02-16 KIA Flanders

Richard Woodhouse                           15-07-16 KIA Somme

Frederick Appleby                              10-09-16 KIA France

George Howard Reynolds                    18-10-16 KIA France

Stanley Stayley Halls                           27-11-16 KIA Greece

Our first casualty was Private 17380 John Henry Williams of the 5th Battalion KSLI. He was born on the 02-08-1891 and was the son of John Williams of Holly Bush, a labourer. He was admitted to Diddlebury School on the 11-09-1899 from Stoke St Milborough age 8 but the family left the parish in 1901. At that time labourers often followed the work.

He enlisted in the 5th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) at Craven Arms. The 5th Service Battalion had been formed on the 6th August 1914 from a cadre of 30 of men from the 1st Battalion KSLI a regular battalion. They were joined by those early volunteers who flocked to answer the call to arms. On the 19/20th May 1915 they embarked for Boulogne after initial training in England. On the 16th June 1915 42 Brigade with the 5th KSLI took part in an attack on the German trenches at Bellewaerde. The Battalion started the attack from just outside the walls of Ypres and it was there that Diddlebury's first casualty Harry Hince died.

Except for a major assault on the 16th June at Bellewaerde and on the 24th September to relieve pressure on troops at Loos the battalion was involved in various duties on the front in the Ypres area. Throughout this period the battalion suffered casualties and was reinforced by drafts of men from England

From November 1915 until February 1916 the battalion remained in the northern sector of the YPRES Salient occupied with tours in the trenches which averaged in the winter about 4 days and in reserve in huts at Brandhoek. In the water logged Flanders conditions in the trenches were terrible. The battalion was out of the line for Christmas 1915. An arrival of a new division in the salient saw the battalion relieved in the trenches on the 11th February by coincidentally the 6th Bn KSLI. During the relief the Germans attacked one of the trenches with bombs (hand grenades).  Although driven back 10 men were killed and 17 wounded.  We must presume as Pte Williams was killed on the 11-02-1916 that it was during this action that he was killed. He died aged 24 years 6 months with no known grave and is remembered on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. Panel 47 and 49.

D. Hedgley with thanks to Neil Evans.