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William Riding was born in the second quarter of 1879 in Clayton-Le-Woods.  His father was also William Riding (b. 1855 in Leyland), an overlooker in a weaving shed.  His mother was Sarah Ann Grass (b. 1852 in Brandon, Suffolk).  The Grass family moved from Suffolk to Clayton in about 1860 and Sarah Ann and William were married in 1875.  The couple had 15 children, losing 6 in infancy.  The 9 survivors were: William, Sarah Ann (b. 1880), Philip (b. 1883), John Thomas (b. 1885), James (b. 1889), Isabella (b. 1890), Robert (b. 1894), Peter (b. 1895) and Elizabeth (b. 1897).  (William snr makes quite a mess of filling in the 1911 Census and gets most of his children’s ages wrong, but I have checked the baptismal records for their dates of birth.)  In 1911, the family (parents and 8 unmarried adult children) were living at 6 Havelock Terrace in Bamber Bridge.  William jnr was working as a labourer for a bricksetter.  His brother James worked in the same brickworks and the rest of the siblings were weavers.


William enlisted when War broke out in the East Lancashire Regiment.  He was assigned service number 16996 and posted to 8th Battalion.  8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Preston in September 1914 as part of K3 and came under command of 74th Brigade in 25th Division.  In March 1915 they transferred to 112th Brigade in 37th Division and they were sent to France in late July 1915.  William Riding landed on 1 August.


37th Division saw relatively little action in 1916, fighting only in the Battle of the Ancre, the concluding phase of the Battle of the Somme, but in 1917 they were heavily involved, first at Arras, in the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe and then at Arleux, and later in the Third Battle of Ypres, from the opening phase at Pilkem Ridge, through Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele.  On 21 February 1918, it was decided to disband 112th Brigade and all officers and men were transferred to 11Bn East Lancs.


11Bn came under orders of 31st Division who were heavily engaged in the German Spring Offensive.  At the beginning of March 1918 the Bn was at Écurie, a few kilometres north of Arras.  On March 22 they were moved to the front line at Boisleux-St Marc, south of Arras, but two days later they were moved to Gomiécourt.  They then moved to Courcelles-le-Comte where they were finally able to hold back the enemy advance.  The fighting was at its fiercest on 27-28 March but the line held.  During the fighting of 25-29 March, the War Diary records 4 officers killed and 7 wounded, and 339 Other Ranks, killed, wounded or missing.  William Riding was among the dead.  He was 38 years old.  CWGC now records 74 officers and men losing their lives in this action.


Rank:  Private

Service Number: 16996

Date of Death:   27/03/1918

Age:  38

Regiment/Service: East Lancashire Regiment, 11th Bn. 

Cemetery/memorial reference: Bay 6.


William Riding was a cousin of James Bradshaw.  William’s mother and James’ mother were sisters and the two families lived next-door-but-one to each other on Havelock Terrace.  James was killed in 1916.


The J. T. Riding and J. Riding on St Saviour’s Roll of Honour are presumed to be William’s brothers, John Thomas and James, but I have no further information on their military careers.

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