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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Researched by Will Young. Born on 20th July 1897 at Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada, Evan Kerruish was destined to be burried in distant Catterick at the age of 20. His parents were the Rev. Thomas and Mrs Maria Kerruish of Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted into 153 (Wellington) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 6th October 1915. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the sister ship of the Titanic, the SS Olympic on 29th April 1917 and landed at Liverpool on 7 May. Kerruish was commissioned into the Royal Naval Air Service on 9th October 1917, serving with Torpedo Squadron No 1. The cause of his death on 13th July 1918 and reason for burial at Catterick are unknown.
Submitted by Anthony Sidlow. Corporal Thomas Richmond (19039) served with 6th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment. He was born in Hunslet, Leeds in 1888, and was a Brewers labourer at Tetleys Brewery. Killed in Action on the 27 August 1917. Commemorated on the Tyne Cott memorial and also The Tetley Brewery, Leeds ‘Roll of Honour’.
Lieutenant Thomas Ginger. Signals Officer. 4th Battalion. Thomas Ginger was awarded the Military Cross as a result of his bravery during the German ‘Spring Offensive’ of March 1918. In the citation for his award it describes how ‘On the first day his senior Officers were killed and in numerous rear-guard actions he found himself in command of considerable bodies of men’. One such example is during the retreat across the River Somme near Brie, when Ginger was ordered to take his men and cover the retreat of the remains of the 50th Division. He took his tired men to the far bank and took up positions to hold the advancing Germans back. At the same Lt George Begg, 239/Field Company was wiring the bridge that the retreating men were crossing. As German troops started to appear on the horizon and the last of the Durham Light Infantry crossed the bridge, Begg primed the detonator and pressed the plunger home. Nothing happened. This was repreated three times. When the bridge did blow, Begg looked across the river to see Ginger and his men still focusing fire on their foe. Eventually Ginger managed to construct a rudimentary footbridge, allowing his men to cross to safety.