William Hird

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance William Hird

William Hird was nominated for the Ribbon of Remembrance by Dianne Evans, and his story illustrates a problem that can occur with records that are a century old.

Thanks to the original 1914-16 enlistment leger at the Green Howards Museum, we can say with some confidence that William enlisted on 10th December 1914 in the City of Durham and that he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, based at West Hartlepool on 18th January 1915.

According to his medal card 18390 Acting Lance Corporal William Hird served in France from 19th September 1915, and was entitled to the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

William is recorded on the ‘Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919’ database as having died on 29 September 1916 as a Private in the 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. This might have been the case, but on examining the battalion war diary, the 7th Battalion were away from the frontline in training and there are no records of any deaths that day. Of course soliders would often die from wounds days after an offensive, however the Green Howards Gazzette for December 1916 records that 18390 W Hird was Killed in Action – there is a separate list for those who Died of Wounds.

On further investigation, the Register of Soldier’s Effects lists William as being in the 6th Battalion when he was killed in action in France. The war diary of 6th battalion recounts the attempted assault on ‘Stuff Redoubt’ (27-30th September), a terrible fight in which both British and German troops occupied the same earthwork. Captain Archie White was to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his command during this action. A total of 381 ‘Other Ranks’ were killed or wounded during the fight at ‘Stuff Redoubt’ according to the battalion diary, making it much more likely (but not certain) that William died fighting with the 6th battalion, rather than in training with the 7th. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial – one of 72,000 names of soliders with no known grave.

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