Biography of Private William Wyer (14004)
9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment
Died 14th July 1916

Soldier

  • Name: William Wyer
    Date of birth: 1894
    Place of Birth: Haconby, Lincolnshire, England
    Date of Birth registration: July – September 1894
    Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
Father

  • Name: William Wyer
  • DOB: 1847
  • Place of Birth: Kirkby Underwood, Lincolnshire, England
  • Occupation: Farm labourer
Mother

  • Name: Sarah Elizabeth Wilson
  • DOB: 1858
  • Place Of Birth: Haconby, Lincolnshire, England
  • Marriage: 1882 Bourne District

Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)

  • Annie Lizzie Wyer, 1883, Haconby
    Robert Wilson Wyer, 1885, Haconby
    Edmund Wyer, 1887, Haconby
    Ethel Jane Wyer, 1889, Haconby
    Emily Wyer, 1891, Haconby
    Sarah Elizabeth Wyer, 1892, Haconby
    William Wyer, 1894, Haconby
    John George Wyer, 1896, Haconby
    Kathleen Wyer, 1900, Haconby
    Hilda Mary Wyer, 1902, Haconby
Census

  • 1901: William is living with his parents in Haconby, Lincolnshire.
  • 1911: William is living with the Wilson family possible his cousin as a boarder in Greatford. The census gives him an age of 16 and he is listed as a horseman on farm.

Relatives in services

Marriage

  • No marriage for William has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.

Newspaper Mentions

  • Gratham Journal Saturday 3rd October 1914
  • MORTON
  • KITCHENER’S ARMY – Nine men have volunteered from these parishes, viz., Hacconby, Robert Wand, Robert Wilson Wyer, Edmund Wyer, William Wyer, Jack Healey; Morton, Fisher Handford, William Holmes, George Smith, John Ashton. We trust that others will be actuated by their splendid examples and follow suit.

Military Records

Attestation Papers

  • Available
Soldier’s Died In The Great War

  • These records show that Private William Wyer, 14004, 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was killed in action on 14th July 1916 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.

Pension Records

  • Available

Effects Left To

  • Father William
  • Mother Sarah E
Medals

  • The British Medal
    The Victory Medal
    The 15 Star

Memorials

  • UK:
  • Haconby, plaque in St Andrew’s Church

 

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
  • In Memory of Private W Wyer, 14004, 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment who died on 14 July 1916.
    Remembered with Honour Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’abbe
    Grave Ref: II.B.34

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials

Military Service Timeline:

  • On the 7th September 1914 William Wyer 14004 of the Leicestershire Regiment undertook his Army Medical  examination in Oakham which reported him to be 5’5 1/2 inches weighing 138 lbs with a 35 inch chest, fresh complexion, Hazel eyes and brown hair. He was declared medically fit to serve.

     

    Initially William was posted to the Regiment’s deport on the 7th September and later on the 24th September he received a further posting to the recently formed 9th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.

     

    On the outbreak of the war there was a need to recruit new armies and we can see from a newspaper report that Haconby and neighbouring Morton were doing their bit.
     

    Grantham Journal Saturday 3rd October 1914

    MORTON

    KITCHENER’S ARMY – Nine men have volunteered from these parishes, viz., Hacconby, Robert Wand, Robert Wilson Wyer, Edmund Wyer, William Wyer, Jack Healey;

    Morton, Fisher Handford, William Holmes, George Smith, John Ashton. We trust that others will be actuated by their splendid examples and follow suit.

     

     

    After enlisting in September 1914 William was posted to the 9th Battalion. The Battalion was formed in Leicester in September 1914 as part of the Third New Army (K3) and then moved to Aldershot for training as part of the 23rd Division.

     

    In April 1915 the Battalion was transferred to the 110th Brigade of the 37th Division and then moved to Salisbury Plain.

     

    We take up William’s story from the reports of the Battalion Diary of leaving their camp in Perham Down England,  through to their first tour of the trenches.

     

    27th July 1015 – Perham Down

    Major Migrion, second in command, promoted to command 8th Leicesters and struck off strength of 9th Leicesters.

     

    28th July 1915

    7.30am – The whole of the transport entrained at Ludgershall for Southampton, proceeding to Havre. The party numbered 3 officers, 107 other ranks (including 4 A.S.C. Attached) 73 horses, 19 fourwheeled vehicles, 4 3 wheeled. The personnel included Machine Gun Section, Transport, Grooms, 9 Signallers (with 6 bicycles etc. The entrainment took about one hour.

     

    29th July 1915

    Tents were struck. The Battalion entrained at Ludgershall in two trainloads X581 (B&D) and X582 (A&C) X581 started at 6.45pm. X582 at 7.50pm. Entrainment took about 5-7 minutes. X581 arrived at Folkestone about 11.30pm X582 at midnight.

     

    30th July 1915

    The Battalion crossed on the St Seririol and reached Boulogne about 2.15am. The strength was 26 officers (Including M.O. and Chaplain) and 872 other ranks. On arrival at Boulogne the Battalion disembarked and marched to Ostrohove Large Camp, where it arrived about 3.30am. This was the rest camp. Two casualties occurred on the march up, both rejoining a few minutes later. The day was spent in Ostrohove and no work was done – Rifles, feet and kit were inspected.

     

    31st July 1915

    The Battalion started from Ostrohove at 4.20am. The strength was the same as, though one man had to be left behind in hospital, we took with us an inspector.

     

    5.45am – The Battalion reached the station of entrainment (Pont de Briques). It was not till 8.30am that the Battalion entrained on the train bringing the advance party (30 officers, 107 men) under Major Unwin. The Battalion detrained at Watten about 1.15pm and marched to Moulle a distance of about 5 miles. On arrival at Moulle the  Battalion went into billets. This occupied some time as no billeting party had gone ahead owing to the fact that it was necessary to get the Battalion out of the station as German aeroplanes were reported to be in the vicinity. The Brigade headquarters was in Houlle.

     

    1st August 1915 – Houlle

    Sunday. Nothing was done this day except inspections and church parade at 10.30am

     

    2nd August 1915 – Houlle

    9am – The Battalion proceeded on a route march. Route Houlle, U of Eperlecques, dinners were cooked on the travelling kitchen and eaten in the forest about 12 noon. The Battalioin arrived back at about 3.15pm. The weather was hot, and there was a considerable amount of thunder and rain.

     

    3rd August 1915 – Moulle

    The day was spent in practice in rapid loading and aiming and in various inspections. The CO and machine gun officer attended a lecture on machine guns at Wisques.

     

    4th August 1915

    The Division left the Moulle District for the Hazebrouck area. The Battalion was timed to move off at 8.45am but owing to the fact that the artillery was late did not start till 9.15am. The Battalion marched to Arques where it halted from 12noon to 2pm for dinners. The Battalion reached billets (mainly country farms and barns) in the neighbourhood of Lynde about 4.30pm. The headquarters company chich was established for the first time numbering about 140 was billeted together. The only point in the organisation needing rectification was the issue of tea and sugar which had been allocated to various companies instead of being left intact. On the march 18 men fell out all of which rejoined.

    The Battalion which marched last of the infantry units of the Brigade, marched from Headquarters at about 8.5am and marched to the billeting area near Eecke. Route: Main Road to Hazebrouck, by railway crossing 1/4 S of the last E of Le The Loge to crossroads 1/2 mile S.E. of St Sylvestre, thence to Eecke. A halt of 1 1/2 hours for lunch was made just S of St Sylvestre. The number falling out was a very great and seems very difficult adequately to explain. The heat in the middle of the day was somewhat trying. The Battalion reached billets about 1.45pm.

     

    6-7th August 1915 – Eecke

    Nothing further was done beyond inspections.

     

    8th August 1915

    The Battalion minus the transport started from Eecke about 8.30am and reached point N.35.d.1.5 just W of Dranoutre about 3.15pm. Route Eecke – Caestre – Berthen – St Jeans Cappel – E in Becque – Dranoutre. The number of those falling out though not excessive as last time, was still large.

     

    9th August 1915 – Dranoutre

    7pm – a & b companies started from the camp enclosure and marched to Wulverghem and proceeded to C trench.

     

    9th – 11th August 1915 – Wulverghem

    B and D companies remained in the trenches for the night of the 9th to the night of the 11th, being distributed amongst the men of the 2nd Buffs for the purtpose of instruction. There were no casualties and the situation was normal.

     

    11th – 12th August 1915

    B and D Companies went into the trenches for one night, A & C companies went back to Camp at Dranoutre. No Casualties were suffered.

     

    12th – 13th August 1915

    A & C Companies moved into diagonal R&L and C.3, C.3.S and S.P.4. No Casualties. Situation normal.

     

    13th – 14th August 1915

    B & D Companies relieved A & C Companies in the same trenches. No Casualties were suffered.

     

    14th August 1915

    A & C companies relieved the 2nd East Surreys in the trenches occupied by them. The Battalion then took over the whole of the C trenches from the night 14/15 August to the night15/16 August. The enemy was quiet the whole time, though the trenches were usually shelled in the afternoon. Patrols and working parties to mend the wire went out each night in front of the trenches. It has been noticed that the Very Lights of the Germans are considerably stronger than ours and ours are very rarely used.

    At 3,30pm orders were received that an English bombardment would begin and the men were ordered to occupy shell positions in case of retaliation by the Germans. Headquarters were moved from St Quentin Cabaret to battle Headquarters. Along our section of the line however, the shelling was not more than usual.

     

    14th August 1915 – Wulverghem

    During the whole period in which the Battalion was in the trenches the Germans occasionally shelled the village of Wulverghem which was about 250 yards away from Battalion Headquarters. When visited the village was found to be completely ruined and the church was practically destroyed, except for the tower, part of which  was still standing. None of the German shells came nearer than this to St Quentin Cabaret.

     

    15th August 1915

    About 10pm the 2nd East Surreys began to relieve us in the trenches. The relief was complete about midnight. During the day two casualties were suffered and while marching back to Dranoutre from the trenches 2nd Lt C.E.N. Logan was wounded in the head by a stray bullet.

     

    16th August 1915

    Little was done this day. The Battalion was encamped again near Dranoutre. Our inspection was held in the afternoon.

     

    17th August 1915 – Armentieres

    The Battalion marched into billets at Armentieres. Attached to it was a detachment of the 7th Leicesters under Major Warren. The eighth Leicesters with a detachment of the 6th Leicesters also marched with the Battalion. The remainder of the Brigade with the machine gunners and signallers of each Battalion marched to Eecke.

    The column started at 9am and marched via Bailleul and Nieppe. Armentieres was reached at 3pm. The Head Quarters of the Battalion was placed at 72 Rue de Faubourg de Lille. The Battalion was attached to the 50th Division for the purpose of supplying working parties to dig the subsidiary line of trenches.

     

    18th August 1915

    C Company worked in the trenches in the morning till about 2pm in the afternoon. SA, B, D companies from 8.30pm till 12.30 pm.

     

    19th – 23rd August 1915

     For this period the Battalion was billeted at Armentieres, except for the machine gunners, Reswerve Machine Gunners, Signallers & bombing officers who were undergoing instruction at Eecke. The work carried out by the Battalion was the digging of the subsidiary line of trenches South of Houplines. This line runs at a distance in the rear of the front line of trenches varying from 800-1500 yards. The trenches are not fully completed as it is felt that Battalions would prefer to do this according to their own special ideas when they occupied them. They  provide, however, sufficient defence for occupation and concrete machine gun emplacements have been built. Most of the work done has been done by night, as a whole Battalion at work during the day would provide too good a mark for German artillery. C company has usually worked from 9.30am – 3 pm. A,B & D Companies from 8.30pm to 1.30am. Casualties have been few and all due to stray bullets. Up to the present date (Aug 23) three casualties all wounded have been suffered.

     

    24th August 1915 – Bailleul

    No digging was done in the morning. At 1pm the detachment of the 110th Brigade under Colonel H.R. Mead marched from Armentieres to Bailleul, and billeted the night 24/25 August there. Battalion HQ were at 14 Rue de Cassel. The Battalion reached Bailleul at 3.50pm. Seven men fell out during the march.

     

    25th August 1915

    The Battalion with the remainder of the detachment of the 110th Brigade marched from Bailleul to Eecke, reaching Eecke at 12 noon. Five men fell out on the march.

    During this and the preceding day the hard pave otld on the marching powers of the men, Route Meten – Fletre – Thieuscouck – Eecke. The Battalion took up its bold billets, Battalion HQ being about 3/4 mile west of Eecke.

     

    26th – 27th August 1915

    At 2.30pm and 4.30pm the battalion marched in twom parts into Godaersvelde. The first bank consisted of the transport wagons etc and three officers and 104 men under Major Thomas, the second part conytained the rest of the Battalion. The Battalion was entrained by 6.53. The train reached Doullens about 2am in the morning of the 27th August. Detraining lasted about one hour and the Battalion then marched into billets and bivouac with the remainder of the Brigade at Mondicourt, reaching that place about 3.30am. Two men only fell out during the march from Doullens; these rejoined shortly afterwards. Battalion Headquarters were situated at a country house N of the Chocolate Factory, IBLED.

     

    28th August 1915

    The VII corps commander Lieut General Sir J.W.O. Snow saw all officers of the Brigade in the afternoon at Brigade H.Q. In his address he laid special stress on the need of discipline and also gave his opinion that the German Infantry was demoralised and tired of the war.

     

    29th August 1915

    A large number of cases of scabies was discovered in the Battalion. This was in a large degree owing to the lack of water in the neighbourhood in which the Battalion had been billeted.

    All men with cases were inspected in the morning by the A.D.M.S. all their clothes and kit was disinfected. Cresol and formaldehyde and allowed to dry in the sun. 27 cases were admitted to the field ambulance.

     

    30th August 1915

    The Brigade was inspected at 11am by the 3rd Army Corps Commander, General Sir C.C. Monroe K.G.B. directly after the inspection the company adjutant and machine gun officer proceeded by motor omnibus to Bienvielers, on a preliminary reconnaissance of the French trenches which were to be taken over by the Battalion. The trenches were found to be in an excellent state and particularly clean though lightly held.

     

    31st August 1915

    C.O.,  2nd in command, Company Commanders, Adjutant and transport officer inspected the French Trenches again. The question of water supply, which was considered difficult, seemed easily surmountable. 

     

    The Battalion did indeed take over the French trenches and were positioned there until they were relieved by the 7th Leicesters on the 11th September.

     

    The first note we see in the Battalion diaries about a man being killed was not until the 15th September.

     

    By October 9th the total casualties incurred by the Battalion was :

    Officers, killed nil, wounded 4

    Other Ranks, killed 10, wounded 22.

    The battalion has spent most of their time in September and October working on the trenches and providing working parties for strengthening trenches, digging communications trenches and general work. Thus far they had not been involved in any major offensives.

     

    The Battalion stayed in the Bienvillers area until the end of the year, thus completing 1915 in the trenches

     

    By the end of December the total casualties since leaving England stood at:

    Officers, Killed Nil, wounded 7

    Other Ranks killed 18, wounded 57

     

    The Battalion started 1916 in the same trenches where they were to stay until the end of March when they were to move down to the Arras area and thence to trenches around Hannescamps.

     

    We move forward to the end of June 1916 whwere the Battalion is in camp at Bavincourt, each day providing working parties. These parties were also employed in getting supplies and all surplus kit in place knowing that there was to be a big push at late notice.

     

    30th June 1916

    Battalion received orders to move at 6.15am on 1st July to Souastre as VII th Corps Reserve for the offensive.

    Situation of Trenches E.5.c.6.4 – E.11.c.4.4 57D 1/40000

     

     

    1st July 1916 (First Day of the Battle of the Somme) – Souastre

    The Battalion moved to Souastre via Laherliere – La Bazeque Farm – St Amand. The Battalion was in readiness to reinforce 46th & 56thth Divisions who were attacking at Gommecourt. At 10.30pm Battalion received orders to be ready to move early on the 2nd to Hebuterne, Battalion was now attached to the 56th Division.

     

    2nd July 1916

    Battalion stood by ready to move off but received orders at 9.55pm to march back to Humbercamp on the 3rd.

     

    3rd July 1916

    The Battalion moved back to Humbercamp via St Amand. Day passed quietly.

     

    4th + 5th July 1916

    Battalion carried on training and was in readiness to move at short notice.

     

    6th July 1916

    Battalion moved to Talmas by route march via PAS – Marieux – Puchevillers starting at 1pm and arriving at 10.20pm

     

    7th July 1916

    Battalion moved again by route march to Crouy via Naours – Wagnes – Wignacourt – Bourdon starting at 9am and arrived at 5.15pm

     

    8th July 1916

    Battalion rested, All inspections carried out.

     

    9th July 1916

    The Divisional Commander addressed all officers on the coming offensive and actions.

     

    10th July 1916

    Battalion moved off from Crouy at 2.30am by road to Ailly-Sur-Somme and thence railed to Mericourt – Thence by bus to Mealte where it bivouaced until 9pm. – at that hour moved to Fricourt – at 11.30pm took over Quadrangle Trench and Quadrangle Support (Which had first been captured by the 50th Brigade) – 1 company Q support, 1 company Pearl Alley – 2 companies Q trench – Relief completed 4am

     

    11th July 1916

    Heavy shelling all 11th but no infantry attack.

     

    12th July 1916

    Major A.W.L. Trotter and 2nd Lt A.B. Taylor killed and 2nd Lt H.F. King wounded.

    C company relieved D Company in Q support.

    B company relieved by 8th Royal Berks in Pearl Alley and moved back to Fricourt.

     

    12th – 13th July 1916

    Battalion relieved by 10th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and moved back to Fricourt arriving back about 5am on 13th. Casualties 10-13th 3 officers and 50 other ranks

     

    13th July 1916

    12 officers and 600 men employed from 9am to 6pm carrying up stores of ammunition and grenades to Mametz Wood. 2 Brigade conferences as tpo orders for Brigade to attack Bazentin-Le-Petit Wood.

     

    14th July 1916

    Battalion Moved off at 12.15am and m,oved up to South edge of Mametz Wood. Heavy shelling – Reached Reserve Position Mametz Wood 500 yards W of front edge at 3.30am just as intense bombardment of German Trenches began and went into existing trenches and dug in.

     

    At 5.20am B Company (Captain Anderson) and 1 platoon of A company moved over to Bazentin-Le-Petit wood to reinforce 6th Battalion – They finally reached nN of wood of village and as far as possible dug themselves in. They were mixed up with 6,7 & 8th Battalions.

    Heavy casualties including all company officers.

    At 6am remainder of A Company moved to German 1st line trench and started to consolidate it – 2 Platoons C Company taken to Brigade H.Q. for carrying.

    At 8.15am Lieut Col Haig with D and half of C moved to Bazentin-Le-Petit wood. Lt Col Haig had orders to take over defence of N.W. and W. edge of wood which was being heavily shelled.

     

    8.45am – D Company (Lieut Nolan) directed on N.W. corner of wood to clear wood and dig in on edge 2 Platoons C Company in support trench with Battalion H.Q.

     

    9am – 12 noon – D Company met with heavy opposition and reached forward support line but failed to clear wood. Lieut Nolan killed, Lt de Lisle and Smith wounded

     

    12 noon – 3pm – Germans threatened counter attack – Very heavy shelling of all lines. A Company brought to Battalion H.Q. and 2 platoons sent to reinforce 6th Battalion.

    Col Kumme, 2 officers and 30 men captured by D Company.

    Captain Boucher (A) Badly wounded.

     

    4pm, – 7 pm – Brigadier came and ordered all available men to attack N.W. Edge of the wood. Lt Col Haig, Captain Emmett and 2nd Lieut Stephens with about 50 men advanced roping in about 100 men of 1st East Yorks as supports. Captain Emmett with 40 men reached N.W. edge of wood and killed 4 German observers and attempted to charge German Trench 50 yards from edge of wood. Captain Emmett and 36 men killed by machine gun fire. Meanwhile Lt Col Haig with 1st East Yorks and a few of the 9th had reached Railway line and come under enfilade machine gun fire (Lt Stephens killed). The edge of wood close to village was cleared and a small drive organised towards Captain Emmett’s ??? – they came under heavy sniping fire and Lieut Hinckley was wounded and most of his men killed or wounded.

     

    7pm – All posts started consolidating where they were. Patrols sent out constantly from the strong posts. Rough positions as below (small hand drawn plan on the diary page)

     

    9pm to 11pm – Heavy shelling and enemy rifle fire but no actual organised attack.

     

    15th July 1916

     

    2am Battalion ordered to go back to centre of Mametz wood by 8am.

     

    William Wyer’s part in the above action on the 14th is not really known as we have no information as to which was his company or platoon.

     

    What we do know is that William Wyer was admitted to 64th Field Ambulance (field ambulance being a first aid post rather than a vehicle) with multiple gun-shot wounds. From 67th Field Ambulance he was taken to 38 Casualty Clearing Station who once again noted multiple gun-shot wounds.

    It was at 38 Casualty Clearing Station where William Wyer was pronounced dead. 38 CCS reported that William was buried in the Cemetery of Bois Hareng, Heilly, 2.5 miles NNE of Corbie.

Sources

  • WW1 Soldier’s Records (www.ancestry.co.uk)
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • British Newspaper Archive.

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