William Whitehead

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Darlington, Durham, England, United Kingdom

Army information

England, United Kingdom
British Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment place:
Wath-upon-Dearne, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
 —  York & Lancaster Regiment 1/4th Bn. (Hallamshire)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Marsh Bottom, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel: 128A

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

The 148th Brigade attacked on the 9th of October 1917 at 5.20 a.m., zero hour, with the 1/4th and 1/5th York & Lancaster Regiments and the 5th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 4th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in reserve. The Brigade advanced with the 1/4th Hallamshires on the right and the 1/5th and the 5th Yorkshires on the left from their positions at Waterloo and Berlin Wood.

At 5.20 a.m. the barrage opened and the Brigade went forward to attack. The Ravebeek was the first serious obstacle for the Hallamshires. The stream flowed along the line of attack of the Battalion. The Ravebeek was swollen and the stream’s banks were destroyed by the heavy shelling, making the advance very difficult. Only about 50 men of the right C company succeeded in crossing the stream. The remainder continued up the left bank. A company in the rear of C company came under heavy machine gun fire from Waterfields and Laamkeek. Due to the marshy terrain the most of the Battalion was forced to advance along the Meetchele-Gravenstafel Road. The left came under fire from German machine guns and rifles. The German fire was not as heavy as on the right and A and B companies were able to cross the stream by the Gravenstafel Road. A company was able to reach its objective and dug in. While A Company was holding the Line, D Company tried to leap over A, but they were pinned down by machine gun fire.

The 50 men of C company who succeeded in crossing the stream were cut down by machine gun fire. Their numbers were reduced to 10 strong. These 10 formed posts with stragglers of the 66th Division and were later reinforced by men of A company.

At about 5 p.m. the Germans assembled about 200 men to launch a counterattack on the left company. The counterattack was dispersed by rifle and Lewis gun fire.

The British attack on the 9th October 1917 proved to be unsuccessful. The barrage which had to cover the attack was unsatisfactory, leaving all German machine gun positions intact. It was too weak and ragged, which made it difficult to follow. The companies of the 1/4th Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment advanced behind the barrage only to find large numbers of the Germans still waiting for them. The Battalion was only able to take the first objective. Further progress became impossible and the Battalion consolidated the line along the base of the ridge.

During the whole day of the 9th, German sniping was very thorough and accurate. The 9th and 10th Jägers opposing the Battalion were excellent marksmen.
We believe that Private Whitehead William fell victim to the German machine gun fire, sniper fire or German shelling in the waterlogged plain, around the stream of the Ravenbeek, stretching from their positions at Waterloo and Berlin Wood to Marsh Bottom and the line along the slope.

Files 1

Sources 3

1/4 Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment (The National Archives, KEW (TNA), WO 95/2805/1).
Further reference
Grant D.P., The 1/4th (Hallamshire) Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment 1914-1919 (London, The Arden Press, 1931) pg. 81-87.
Sources used
McCarthy C., The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account )London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995) pg. 107-108.
Sources used

More information 3