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6th Northamptonshire Regiment, Westhoek Ridge


beresford69
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I am keen to find some information about a Private William Clay of 6th Northamptonshire Regiment who died on 8th August 1917. I'm interested in him because of a fascinating story in my local paper (and the fact that the Church is next door)




I wonder if any members might be willing to share the relevant extracts from the 6th Northants Regimental War Diary. From what I can gather, this was the early stages of Passchendaele and 6th Northants were in the frontline on the 8th at Westhoek Ridge but didn't advance until 10th. Anything that could be added to that would be greatly appreciated.


Many thanks,


Geoff
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From the Battalion History:


The weather was fine next day, the 4th {August 1917} and B and C Companies having been shelled pretty badly during the night, without protective shelter of any kind, moved forward some seventy five yards

into Sanctuary Wood. C Company having undergone a similar experience, also moved into Wellington Crescent. On the 5th there was heavy shelling in the morning around Headquarters and Wellington Crescent, and 9.30 p.m. a fierce bombardment commenced, lasting until 10.45 p.m. During the afternoon, enemy aircraft were active, three of their planes flying directly over our front line.


However, in spite of these hazards, all Companies of the Sixth managed to clear up the trenches and bury the dead in their area. A burial party was sent out on the 6th. Their job being to bury all dead found lying along the Menin Road and to salvage and dump all tools found in that area. The day was fine, but enemy artillery was active during the morning. Orders were received that an attack would be made on Inverness Copse, Glencourse Wood, and South-end of Westhock Ridge. 54th Brigade would attack with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on the right, and the 7th Bedfordshire Regiment on the left. The role of the Sixth in all this would be as follows:


A and D Company - moppers-up to the assaulting Battalions. A Company with the Royal Fusiliers, and D Company with the 7th Bedfords.

C Company - to garrison and consolidate strong point,

and B Company - to carry from the Menin Road to the forward areas.


Considerable enemy shelling with 5.9's occurred next day the 7th around both Headquarters and Wellington Crescent. At 9.30 p.m. a big bombardment on both sides developed, and lasted until 11.0 p.m. the shell fire being very severe around Ignorance trench. Around 6.0 p.m. that evening, several enemy pieces flew over our lines at a high altitude. Enemy Artillery was active all day on the 8th. Our aircraft were also busy preventing enemy planes flying too near our trenches. The attack was arranged for the night of the 8/9th but owing to heavy rain it had to be postponed. On the 9th it was a case of the quiet before the storm, the enemy behaving himself very well, and giving us no cause for concern during the day, but around 7.0 p.m. Artillery on both sides became active. Orders were received for the attack (which had been postponed) to go ahead as planned, on the morning of the 10th. The objective of the 54th Brigade was to take Glencorse Wood, and the high ground beyond.





Steve.

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40496 William Clay had previously served in the Army Service Corps (No. S4/197439, enlisted at Kingston, Surrey) I believe he was part of a group transferred from the A.S.C. to the 12th Battalion of the Training Reserve in March 1917 who then went to France on 22 May 1917. They transferred to the 6th Northamptons in France on 17 June 1917 joining the battalion on the 20 June 1917.

The picture on the link shows William wearing his A.S.C. uniform - the cap badge being that of the Army Service Corps.

Steve.

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CWGC shows him as:

"Husband of Cecilia Ruth Parsons (formerly Clay), of 12, Aboyne Rd., Garratt Lane, Tooting, London."

The 1911 Census shows:

William Clay, male, age 25, married (1 year), jouirneyman baker, born at Chelsea (same as noted on Soldiers Died as place of birth)

Cecilia Ruth Clay, age 20, married (1 year), wife of William, born at Bermondsey.

Of 39 Chesson Road, North End Road, West Kensington.

The wedding one year before the 1911 Census would appear to be William Clay marrying Cecilia Ruth ("Kath" per Ancestry Index) Mitchell in the A-M-J Quarter of 1910 at Kensington.

1901 Census shows him as the son of William Clay (builders clerk) and Mrs Fanny Clay (nee Billings). Brother of Albert, Robert, Joseph, Fanny and Elsie.

1891 Census shows him as the son of William Clay (Police constable) and Mrs Fanny Clay (nee Billings). Brother of Albert, and Robert.

Steve.

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Steve,

I'm very grateful to you for taking the trouble to share this. The Battalion history paints a very clear picture of what things were like around the time he died. I will most certainly pass this on and if a relative does emerge following publication of the story in the Wandsworth Guardian, then I'm sure they will be extremely grateful to know these details.

Thank you again. It never ceases to amaze me how through collaboration on this Forum we can find out in hours what not so long ago would have taken weeks, months or longer.

Very best wishes,

Geoff

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