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William Tickle was born in the 3rd quarter of 1892, in Bamber Bridge.  The family lived at 226 Station Road.  His father Richard was born in Preston in 1854 and was a stationary engine driver.  His mother was Elizabeth Ann Riding who was born in 1856 in Farington.  Richard and Elizabeth were married in 1876.  There was an extensive Tickle family network in Bamber Bridge, having moved there in the late 1850s, and they were members of St Saviour’s parish but it seems Elizabeth Ann was a Roman Catholic and her children were brought up as Catholics.  I haven’t found Richard and Elizabeth in the 1911 Census but they had at least six children: Ellen (b. 1879), Ralph (b. 1884), Mary (b. 1887), then William, then Margaret (b.1893) and Alfred (b. 1896).


William enlisted in the early days of the War, and was posted first to the Border Regiment, 7th Battalion, with service number 18503.  7th Border came under the command of 51st Brigade of 17th (Northern) Division, and landed in France on 15 July 1915.  In April 1915, however, William had married.  His wife was Selina Jane Varley (b. 1891 in Accrington).  Her family moved from Accrington to Bamber Bridge in the first decade of the century and in 1911 were living at 8 Collins Road, where Selina was working as a weaver in the cotton mill. 


A few months later, in July 1915, William landed in France.  His Division spent its initial period of trench familiarisation and then holding the front lines in the southern area of the Ypres salient.  However, William only remained with this regiment until the end of September 1915, and he was posted on 26 June 1916 to 1/20 Battalion of the London Regiment, initially with service no. 6197, which was subsequently changed to 633094.  The full title of his battalion is 1/20th (County of London) Battalion (Blackheath and Woolwich).  It formed part of 141st Brigade in the 47th (2nd London) Division.  William joined the Battalion just before the opening of the Battle of the Somme.  This Division took part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in which they captured High Wood; the Battle of the Transloy Ridges in which they captured Eaucourt l'Abbaye and later the attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt.  The Battle of the Transloy Ridges was fought from 1-20 October 1916, and it was on the opening day of this attack that William was killed.  A bombardment of the German positions began at 7.45 that morning and at 3.15 in the afternoon the infantry went over the top.  Fighting alongside 2nd New Zealand Brigade, 141st Brigade’s attack ran into machine gun fire, and came to a halt. The two right hand battalions were then helped out by a pair of tanks that came along the line from right to left, allowing them to capture their objectives.  Close to Eaucourt l’Abbaye, the tanks were ditched, and the leftmost battalion (the 1/17th London (Poplar and Stepney) Regiment), was unable to take its objectives. The next morning the 1/23rd London Regiment attacked on the same front, but was repulsed after suffering 170 casualties. Finally, at noon on 3 October patrols discovered that the Germans had abandoned the exposed segment of trench, and it was occupied.


William was killed in that opening charge, he had just turned 24.  His body was never recovered.  Almost 2800 men were killed on The Somme between 1 and 3 October 1916.  Of these, 422 were from the various London Regiments.


As the weather worsened, troops were exhausted, battalions decimated, and artillery worn out and increasingly inaccurate, the Battle of the Somme began to wind to a weary conclusion, and Transloy was the last major offensive of the Battle.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  633094

Date of Death:  01/10/1916

Regiment/Service:  London Regiment, 1st/20th Bn.

Panel Reference:  Pier and Face 9 D 9 C 13 C and 12 C.



William’s brother Alfred also signed up for the East Lancashire Regiment, in November 1914.  Although at 18 he was old enough to sign up he actually claimed to be 19, perhaps eager to get to the action.  Although initially passed fit for service, he was discharged only a month later as he was found to have bad eyesight.

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