2750 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment
died 14 March 1915
Ploegsteert Memorial, near Ypres, Belgium
Private William J Francis was born in 1890. His mother was a widow by the time her son was killed in action. William was her only son and grew up with no brothers or sisters. At the time of his death his mother lived at 35, Stanlow Cottages, part of a row of small workers cottages near Ellesmere Port docks. William seemed to have lived in Birkenhead as a child.
As a young man William was employed at the Mersey Ironworks (which was beside the railway adjacent to Ellesmere Port station). Here he worked hard for five years at this job as a “scaler” before leaving to join the army in 1913. This was only a year before the start of the Great War, which we now call the First World War. We don’t know if William joined the army on his own or with friends. He trained with many other men for 12 months. When the war with Germany started his battalion was one of the first to be sent to France in August 1914. He fought as part of the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. His unique service number was 2750, and he was clearly a skilled fighter as he successfully went through many engagements with the enemy without even being wounded.
He will be remembered as one of the many missing soldiers who fought bravely in the immediate area of the Ypres Salient on the Western Front. This is known to be the scene of some of the biggest battles in World War One. It is known that in his 11 months of war service he took a brief leave – returning to marry a girl he had met while on his training. About a month before the opening of the Western Offensive in early 1915 he was slightly wounded. He was soon back in action, but he was killed only a week after his return.
His name can be found as one of the 11,367 soldiers of the United Kingdom and South African forces on the Ploegsteert Memorial, in Belgium (pictured below). This is also known as Hyde Park Corner. These soldiers have no known grave. His name is found on panel 8. William Francis was only 25 years of age when he was sadly killed in battle on the 14th March 1915, but he will always live on in our memories.
Jess McHale (Year 9 2007)
Commonwealth War Graves Record