Soldiers' Records


Private William J Lock

18th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment (24652)
Died 1st July 1916, Aged 20


William J Lock (1896-1916)

William J Lock was a Private of the 18th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment (24652), he was born and raised in Ellesmere Port, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Ruth Lock of 3 Fleming Street, Ellesmere Port.

Born in 1896 he was killed in action on 1st July 1916 at the age of twenty. The 1st July was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This was easily the worst day in British military history when 20,000 men were killed and a further 40,000 injured. William was one of those casualties.

His parents received a letter from W C Glover of the Kings Liverpool Regiment,

‘ I am sorry to have to write to and inform you that your son was killed in action last Saturday (July 1st) and wish to express my sincere sympathy with you. Although he was comparatively a new member of the company, everybody loved him. He was always so cheery and willing to do anything that was necessary. I shall miss his pleasant face, as I took a great fancy to him, it seems very hard for a mere boy to die so young, but it may be some consolation to you to know that he died in one of the most magnificent advances ever made by the British troops.

His body was never found, consequently his name was recorded on the Thiepval Memorial together with 73,000 other men who suffered a similar fate.

Harry Roberts (Year 9 2007)

 

 

 

The extent of Ellesmere Port by 1914. William lived at 3, Fleming St., Ellesmere Port (click to enlarge)

From the Birkenhead and "Wallasey Advertiser:

Lock, William J

The parents of Private William Lock whose death has now been officially notified have received many expressions of sympathy. Writing from ‘ 'somewhere in France ‘ under the date July 5th 1916, Corporal J Rowlands Crosby and Private A Knight said,

'It is with the deepest regret that we write to inform you of the death of your son Private William Lock, he was killed in action on 1st July. Being Ellesmere Port men, we (Corporal Crosby) knew your son as a friend in civilian life and (Private Knight) was an old school chum. We both send you our deepest sympathy in your great loss. Your son was loved by all in the platoon, he was a good soldier who did his duty with a smile. His cheery spirits and manner made him exceedingly popular amongst us all and each one of the platoon wish us to convey to you their sympathy. He will be sadly missed in the ranks and his place will never be filled. The blow will be hard one for you to bear, but we can only say a more noble death he could not have met. He suffered not pain, death being instantanious. He was buried on 3rd July, his burial being witnessed by Private Knight, who has his cap badge, which he will send to you at the first opportunity'.

Lieut W C Glover of the Kings Liverpool Regiment, wrote the following letter to Mr & Mrs Lock dated July 7th,

' I am sorry to have to write to and inform you that your son was killed in action last Saturday July 1st and wish to express my sincere sympathy with you. Although he was comparatively a new member of the company, everybody loved him. He was always so cheery and willing to do anything that was necessary. I shall miss his pleasant face, as I took a great fancy to him, it seems very hard for a mere boy to die as young, but it may be some consolation to you to know that he died in one of the most magnificent advances ever made by British troops.

The following letter of sympathy was received on Monday by Mr & Mrs Lock from Captain K B Stoddart, officer commanding the company of Liverpool Pals of which the deceased was a member.

‘On behalf of the officers and men, I wish to express our sympathy in the loss of your son, killed in action on July 1st. Ever since he joined us he has been liked and respected by all his comrades and he has invariably done his duty on every occasion in the most splendid manner. The company will indeed miss the fine devoted lads who have fallen. In the wonderful charge they made so successfully it was their devotion to duty which won the battle. It may help you a little in your sorrow to know how nobly your son died and how much he was loved and respected by all, with deepest sympathy'.

According to the letters home, William did actually receive a burial at the time of his death, however due to the nature of the fighting in the Somme area burial grounds sometimes suffered direct hits from shelling while the war still raged on. Furthermore land was of course lost and gained and sometimes graves areas fell within the battlefield. It would appear that by the end of the war William Locks remains were now missing and could not be reburied in the new Commonwealth War Grave sites, hence his recording on the Thiepval Memorial.

William recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, 4th name down, top left.

The Battle of the Somme and the Thiepval Memorial

 

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained.

At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 31 July 1932. The dead of other Commonwealth countries who died on the Somme and have no known graves are commemorated on national memorials elsewhere.

From Albert our tour roughly followed the dotted trench line

Name: LOCK, WILLIAM J.
Initials: W J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit Text: 18th Bn.
Age: 20
Date of Death: 01/07/1916
Service No: 24652
Additional information: Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Ruth Lock, of 3, Fleming St., Ellesmere Port
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 1 D 8 B and 8 C.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

Certificate

In Memory of
Private WILLIAM J. LOCK

24652, 18th Bn., The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
who died age 20
on 01 July 1916
Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Ruth Lock, of 3, Fleming St., Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead.
Remembered with honour
THIEPVAL MEMORIAL



Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission



Most of the Cheshires are recorded on the panels behind the memorial party



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