William Bleese

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Chester, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom

General information

High School Student

Army information

England, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment place:
Salford, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
 —  Lancashire Fusiliers, 2/5th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Spree Farm - Schüler Farm, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 2

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place

My story

Private William Bleese served in the 2/5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, part of the 164th brigade, 55th Division. The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, officially took place from the 31st of July till the 10th of November 1917. The division participated in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge on the 31st July, the first day of Passchendaele.

At 8:30p.m. on 30th July the 2/5th Battalion marched to their assembly positions at Congreve Walk Liverpool Trench. 165 and 166 brigades had begun their attack advancing towards the three objectives; the Blue Line, the Black Line and the Green Line at 3:50 a.m. Then at 8:00 a.m. 31st July 1917 the 2/5th Battalion climbed out of their assembly positions into artillery formation and at 8:10 a.m. began their advance towards the Black Line, proceeding at a pace of roughly 100 yards per 4 minutes. Between 200 and 300 yards short of the Black Line the battalion came under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire from directions of Spree Farm, Wine House, parts of Capricorn Support and Capricorn Keep, Pond Farm and Hindu Cottage The Black line was eventually reached with a casualty estimate of between 25 and 50 per cent of the battalion. 166 brigade had failed to take Wine House, Pond Farm and Spree farm and were dispersed between Capricorn trench and Capricorn Support.

At 10:10am the remaining 2/5th Battalion advanced to capture the final objective, the Green Line. By this point Spree farm had been fallen to them with support from 1/8th Liverpool Irish and was set up as Battalion headquarters. Pond Farm and Hindu Cottage were also taken care of during the advance. The Green line was held by 55th division for 20 minutes before the first enemy counterattack commenced from the North-East of their position, moving across the front-left of the Division and advancing as far as the road junction near Winnipeg where it halted. The 118 Brigade had been forced back to Border House on the Black Line leaving the left flank of 164 Brigade completely exposed and forcing them to draw back to avoid encirclement. A second, overwhelming enemy counterattack commenced with fierce fighting by 130 men and one Officer (Capt. Bodington) of 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers with 1/8th Liverpool Regiment occurring at Schuler Farm before they too were forced to withdraw to The Black Line.

All but one of the 19 combatant officers had become casualties, with only Captain Bodington making it back to the Blackline unscathed. Of the 593 individuals of other ranks within the 2/5th Battalion 473 were recorded casualties by 1st August 1917. Private William Bleese was Killed in Action on this first day of the Battle of Passchendaele and is commemorated on Panel 33 of the CWGC Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. This means that Williams remains were either never discovered or could not be positively identified. It is possible that William fell during the heavy fighting and retreat back to the Black Line and so it may not have been possible to retrieve his body.

Private Charles Bleese of 16th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers was killed on 30th July 1917 just a day before his younger brother William.

Files 1

Sources 5

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 28 - 29
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War Diary 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers
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