William was the son of William and Mary Rutley of 8 Mabal Street, Middlesbrough. He enlisted in late 1914 and was posted to the 8th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
The 8th Battalion left for France in late August 1915 and occupied trenches in the La Rolanderie and Bois-Greniers districts throughout October, November and December.
William is reported to have died of wounds on December 16th. He was 22 years of age.
He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He was buried at Sailly-sur-la Lys Canadian Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais.
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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.
Richard Birkenhead Wilton was the son of Charles and Elen Wilton of Stafford. After the outbreak of war Richard joined the 15th (Reserve) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment which had 12 officers and 750 non-commissioned officers and men. The battalion moved from Skipton to Rugeley in Staffordshire. In January 1916 Richard is listed as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the Reserve battalion. November 1916 sees him transfered at that rank to the 9th battalion. The Green Howards Gazette records that Richard was Killed in action on 1st October 1917. On the night of 30th September the 9th battalion took over from the 8th battalion in the line where the war diary states “Very heavy barrage put up by enemy from 4.30am; ‘C’ Coy on our left attacked; heavy casualties feared. Communication between HQs and Coys very difficult” His death is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.
William was born on the 16th December 1894 in the village of Murton in County Durham. At 14 he would follow his father down the pit at Mutton Colliery. At the outbreak of war he enlisted on the 3rd September, aged 20, into the Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, and was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion. The Battalion travelled to France in August 19115 as part of the 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. It was during the Somme offensive in 1916 that William would win his first Military medal, having gone out into no-man’s-land to rescue a wounded officer. The following year during 3rd Ypres, generally known as Passcheandaele, he received a bar to his Military Medal, again recuing men wounded or buried under shellfire. In late 1917 he was part of the detachment of British and French troops sent to the Italian front to bolster the Italians after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Caparetto. In October of 1918 the allied advance culminated in their victory at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto paving the way for the total defeat of the Austrian Army. It was during this battle that William received the Victoria Cross having put to flight the enemy and capturing a machine gun. William left the Army in February 1919 and returned to life down the pit at Murton Colliery. He married and would father 6 children. In 1940 he joined the Local Defence Volunteers in Murton and the following year served in the Durham Home…