Biddulph & District Genealogy & Historical Society Biddulph Grange

Biddulph and the Great War

'There Shall Be In That Rich Earth A Richer Dust Concealed'

'We Will Remember Them'

Private William Gallimore

6444, 111 Corps Cyclist Bn. Army Cyclist Corps killed in action March 22nd 1917 Age 20


William was the eldest son of William Gallimore and Alice. William and Alice had married in 1888 at St. Lawrence Church in Biddulph. In 1891 the family are living in John Street Biddulph. Their son William was born around 1897 according to the 1901 census. He is found living at Childerplay, Brown Lees; the street is described as The Huts. William is a blast furnace filler age 35, born at Black Bull with wife Alice (née) Moss, age 31, from Biddulph. The family included daughters Betsy 11, Minnie eight, Sarah seven, Annie five with William age four and James just one month old. A boarder John Burton, age 62, is also living with the family.

By 1911 the census states that William and Alice have been married for 22 years and of their 12 children nine are still alive. The home is at 124, Brown Lees Road near Black Bull. William is now the eldest child in the family and having left school is employed as an iron worker at the Robert Heath Iron Works. His age of 14 seems to contradict the age he must have given on enlistment; he must have been closer to age 17 rather than 19. His birthplace is given as Mow Cop but the younger children are born at Black Bull.

On September 2nd 1914 William joined the army. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. William’s medal card gives his regimental number as 14090, different from the number shown when he transferred on January 18th 1915 to the newly formed Army Cyclist Corps. On enlistment William is described as 19 years two months of age, with a height of 5ft 4½in, chest size of 35½in, expanded. He had two vaccination marks on his left arm. After completing training, home leave followed and William had the opportunity to say goodbye to his family. For William and his mates a new adventure was to unfold and like most of his friends, William would be going overseas for the first time. It is quite possible that William had never seen the sea before they crossed the English Channel on July 18th 1915.

Attached to III Corps Cyclist Battalion, William’s duties would have included courier work, taking messages, communications, reconnaissance and scouting. In areas vulnerable to sabotage the cyclist mounted security patrols. All this was in support of the various battalions of the corps. William would serve in Flanders during the Battle of the Somme. At times the Cyclist Battalion was engaged in trench holding duties. The battle was to last from July to November 1916 and the following year found William serving in the Hindenburg Line offensive.

In March 1917 the enemy commenced a controlled retreat falling back to the Hindenburg Line to ground that was more advantageous to them. Sadly it was at this time that William, whilst carrying out his duties with the Cyclist Corps, lost his life in an area between Peronne and St Quentin. This happened on March 22nd 1917, he was twenty years old, and Private William Gallimore was buried at the Hancourt British Cemetery. It is believed that he was initially buried at Bernes which is situated near to where he fell. At home the sad news was reported in the Chronicle along with his photograph in uniform.

The ancestry website does have some of the original documents for William. One details his possessions which were returned to his father Mr. William Gallimore senior. They included five letters, 16 photographs, one memorial card, one pocket wallet, one comb, one pocket handkerchief.

Another form asked for the names of his relatives alive at the time of his death. These are recorded as William Gallimore father, Alice Gallimore mother, brothers Henry age 13, John Thomas nine, sisters Betsy Ellen 32 and Mabel 11.

William is remembered on his parents’ grave stone in Biddulph church yard and his name is to be found on the St. Lawrence memorials and the memorial in the town centre of Biddulph.

Elaine Bryan and Michael Turnock.

Note: Photograph kindly submitted by Mr. A. Pickin & family descendants of Mr. W. Gallimore.

A list of all the medals awarded to the men of the Biddulph area has been compiled and can be viewed here.


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