Monday, March 07, 2016

16534 Private William Chadwick, 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers

William Chadwick was a patient at Hickwells in October 1915. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album reads:

Pte W Chadwick
7th KOSB

Wounded at Loos Sept 25th 1915

Man's Life is But a Dream

He shares this page with 9457 Cpl Horace F Wood and 5365 Private George Robert Alfred Lucas, both of the 8th Royal West Kent Regiment.

William Chadwick was born at Hollingworth, Cheshire in March 1885. He appears on the 1901 census living with his family at 12 Knowl Street, Hollingworth. The household comprised George W Chadwick (head, married, aged 42, working as a cotton waste sorter), his wife Kate Chadwick (aged 40) and their four children: William (aged 16), Harry Chadwick (aged 12), John Chadwick (aged eight) and Alice Chadwick (aged three). Kate’s 68 year old father, Thomas Minton (born in Ireland) was also living at the same address. William is noted on the census as a “cotton spinners piecer”.

On 8th August 1906 William married Ada Wigglesworth at Christ Church, Tintwistle, Derbyshire and appears to have settled with her back in his native town of Hollingworth.

He attested at Glossop on the 8th November 1914, stating that he wished to serve with the Scottish Borderers. “Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders” is written on his attestation papers but this is crossed out and “King’s Own Scottish Borderers” (KOSB) written in its place. He was posted to the 9th Battalion and given the number 16534. He gave his occupation as labourer and his age as 28 years and eight months. He was five feet, five and three quarter inches tall, had dark brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He weighed close to 133 pounds.

On 15th November he was posted to the 7th Battalion which formed part of the 46th Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Division. The battalion sailed for France on the 9th July 1915 and numbered 1020 men comprised of 30 officers, six warrant officers, 43 sergeants, 40 corporals and 901 other ranks. The French Army added an interpreter which was to prove extremely useful as the men would find themselves billeted in areas previously unoccupied by British troops and were able, thanks to his services, to find buildings that had been overlooked by the French authorities. By nightfall, on the 10th July 1915, the entire 15th Division was on French soil.

William Chadwick was one of 600 7th KOSB casualties on the opening day of the Battle of Loos (25th September 1915), sustaining a gunshot wound to his left foot. The following account is taken from part 10 of the Hospital Way and describes the action of the 7th KOSB at Loos:

At 5.50am on Saturday the 25th September 1915, the British bombardment that had been directed against the German lines over the last four days, fell with a renewed intensity on their front defences. At the same time, the chlorine gas that had been so carefully stored under the British parapets, was released from its cylinders. Forty minutes later, in the face of German rifle and machine gun fire, the men of the 15th (Scottish) and 47th (London) Divisions clambered out of their trenches and headed off through the smoke, gas and mist towards the German lines.

William Chadwick and the men of the 7th KOSB had got off to a slow start. Just as they were preparing to go over the top, a change in wind direction had blown the gas back into their trenches. The men hesitated. Piper Laidlaw, forty years old and a recalled Reservist, seeing that the men were wavering, jumped onto the top of the parapet and, with shells exploding and bullets whistling around his ears, proceeded to march up and down playing the regimental march, ‘Blue Bonnets over the Border’. Urged on by his example, the 7th KOSB rallied and, with Laidlaw still piping, they ran forward together. Laidlaw was awarded the Victoria Cross. Half an hour after leaving their trenches, the Borderers and the 10th Scottish Rifles attacking with them had pushed through the German first line of defence and on towards Loos where they halted in front of the wire entanglements.

To their right, the leading battalions of the 44th Brigade: the 9th Black Watch and the 8th Seaforth Highlanders, had pushed on into the village followed by the 7th Camerons and 10th Gordons in support and by 8am, after fierce hand-to-hand fighting during which the men moved systematically from house to house, the village was in British hands.

By 9.30am, the advance on the 15th Divisional front was going so well that the order was sent for the Royal Engineers to bridge trenches and prepare tracks for the Royal Field Artillery to move forward . Having fought their way through Loos there was no holding back the eager recruits of the 15th Division. The 1500 men of the 44th and 46th Brigades who had survived thus far, now moved up the slope of Hill 70, pushing the Germans in front of them and whilst some men established themselves in a line along the reverse slope, between 800 and 900 others pushed forward.

The slope of Hill 70 though, inclined towards the South East and so instead of pushing ahead towards their 6th line objective of Cite St Augustin, ‘the men being excited’ (according to the war diary of the 7th KOSB), wheeled round to the right and towards the German held Dynamitiere, a heavily fortfified strongpoint. As soon as they reached it, the fleeing Germans had turned around and now opened up a deadly fire on the men racing down the slopes.

The Fifteenth Divisional history reports that some men of the leading lines of the 44th Brigade actually got as far as the outer houses that comprised the Dynamatiere but were then either killed or captured. The remainder, with a few of the 46th Brigade were exposed in the open within eighty yards of the German front trench and it was now their turn to seek whatever cover they find. Exposed to what the War Diary of the 10th Gordon Highlanders describes as ‘scathing machine gun and rifle fire’, they remained where they were until around 1pm when those that could manage too, were forced to retire back over the crest and rejoin the line on Hill 70 late in the afternoon.

Wounded in action, William Chadwick fell back. He arrived back in England on 28th September aboard the Hospital Ship Dieppe and was then taken in a medical convoy to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital at Brighton. His name appears in The Sussex Daily News published on 5th October as one of a number of wounded soldiers at the hospital. Three days after that report appeared, the military authorities officially informed his wife that he was at hospital in Sussex.

Having recently been mobilised, almost certainly in response to the casualties streaming back from Loos and Gallipoli, Sussex 54 VAD threw open the doors of Hickwells to welcome the newcomers. It was no longer a convalescent home but an Auxiliary Home Hospital attached to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital. It received its first batch of patients on 13th October and William Chadwick along with Stan Collins, John Currie and John Allan was almost certainly part of that first contingent.

William probably remained at Hickwells for around six weeks. On 1st December he was posted to B Company of the 9th KOSB. This may have been at Catterick because on 21st December at Hipswell Camp (which was at Catterick) he went absent without leave for ten days. He was awarded ten days’ Field Punishment and forfeited seven days’ pay. Unrepentant he went absent without leave again on 30th January, returning at 9.30pm on New Years’ Day; presumably somewhat the worse for wear. He was given 72 hours’ detention and forfeited another three days’ pay.

William was posted back to the 7th Battalion in France on 17th March, embarking at Folkestone aboard the Golden Eagle. He arrived at Etaples the following day and re-joined his battalion in the Field on the 29th. On 30th May 1916 the 7th and the 8th KOSB were combined and William’s designation now became the 7/8th KOSB.

On 24th June 1916 his service record states that he was admonished and fined one shilling for “losing by neglect, cap badge”. The following day he was back in hospital, this time with haemorrhoids.

William Chadwick’s haemorrhoids kept him out of the front line for about the same length of time as his Loos wound. His service papers show that he returned to the UK on 6th July 1916 and then spent time at hospitals in Colchester and Romford in Essex before being transferred to a convalescent hospital at Eastbourne. He was discharged fit on 26th August 1916 and then took eight days’ leave – presumably going home to Hollingworth.

He was due to return to the 3rd Battalion KOSB at Kinghorn, Fife on 4th September but it appears that he did not actually return until the 6th; an offence for which he was rewarded with an admonishment by Captain W P Donaldson and the forfeiture of three days’ pay.

On 6th September he was posted to the 53rd Training Reserve Battalion, remaining with them until 15th December when he embarked for the third time for France. He joined the 21st Infantry Base Depot on the 16th before being posted to the 1st KOSB and then, on 7th January 1917, to the 2nd Battalion. In June 1917 he was reported as being absent from a working party and was fined three days’ pay.

On 11th October whilst at Senlis in Northern France, William was admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance. It appears to state that his cause of admission was “H T Buttock” but I do not have a modern translation for this Whatever it was, it caused him to be admitted to hospitals at Rouen, Trouville and Calais and kept him out of the trenches until January 1918.

It next appears that he went briefly to Italy (in March and April 1918) but by 10th April he was back in hospital in France, this time with impetigo. He rejoined the 2nd KOSB on 2nd June 1918 and was appointed lance –corporal (unpaid) on 20th June.

On 3rd July 1918 whilst at St Pol he was admitted to the 12th Stationary Hospital with mild deafness, returning to duty on the 23rd. Exactly three months later, on the 23rd October, he reported “concussion of the labyrinth” but was discharged to duty the same day.

William Chadwick was appointed paid lance corporal on 25th December 1918 and on 13th January 1919 returned home to the UK for good. He was transferred to class Z of the Army Reserve on 10th February 1919, giving his address as 49 Market Street, Hollingworth, Cheshire.

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