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William Slater was born on 22 April 1899 in Wheelton and baptised at Heapey St Barnabas on 28 May that year.  His father was William Slater (b. 1862 in Blackburn), who worked variously as a weaver, a farmer and a licensed victualler.  His mother was Nanny Fowler (b. 1863 in Withnell).  William and Nanny were married in 1887 in Livesey, and they had 4 children, 3 of whom survived: John (b. 1889), Lily (b. 1893) and finally young William.  In 1911, William snr was the license of the Castle Hotel at Gregson Lane; John and Lily were both cotton mill workers and William jnr was still at school.  They subsequently moved to 14 Collins Road, Bamber Bridge.


William’s attestation papers have not survived, so piecing his military career together requires some guesswork, however we know that his service number, 60795, is the ‘old style’ before 6-digit numbers were introduced in 1917.  He was not awarded the 1915 Star, so this points to his enlisting in late 1916, when he was still under age.  He served with 1/6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, who came under orders of 127th (Manchester) Brigade of 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.  This Division fought in the later stages of the Third Battle of Ypres but in September 1917 it was withdrawn to the Nieuport area on the Belgian coast where it was given an opportunity to reorganise and assimilate new drafts.  It may have been here that William joined them.


In 1918, the Division fought through several phases of the German Spring Offensive: during Operation Michael, at Bapaume, Arras and the Ancre; and during Operation Georgette, at Albert and Bapaume.  In August, the 100 Days’ Offensive had been launched by the Allies and in September a concerted effort was made to break the Hindenburg Line and capture Cambrai.  On 27 September – 1 October, 42nd Division was engaged in the battle to cross the Canal du Nord.  With the capture of the Canal, the road to Cambrai was now open.  William died on 3 October 1918, of wounds almost certainly sustained during this attack.  He was still only 19 years old.


Rank:  Private

Service Number: 60795

Date of Death: 03/10/1918

Age: 19

Regiment/Service:  Manchester Regiment, 1st/6th Bn

Cemetery/memorial reference: F. 9.


Additional Information:  Son of William and Nanny Slater, of 14 Collins Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston.

The J Slater on St Aidan’s Roll of Honour is presumably William’s brother John, but I have no details.

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