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680142 GNR. W. CORLESS.  R.F.A.


William Corless was born in Lancaster on 17 February 1893 and baptised at Lancaster Christ Church on 5 April.  His father was William Corless (b. 1864 in Lancaster), a cabinet maker.  His mother was Ann Mary Foxcroft (b. 1866 in Lancaster).  William snr and Ann Mary were married in Lancaster in 1888 and they had 7 children: Mary Grace (b. 1889), George (b. 1890), Annie (b. 1891), then William, then Margaret (b. 1895), Ida (b. 1900) and finally Harold (b. 1905).  In 1911, the family was living at 2 Pitt Street, Lancaster though later they moved to 8 Mary Street.  William jnr was working as a spinner in a cotton mill.  His brother George was a chair maker.  George married in 1915, his wife being Edith Fell (b. 1892 in Lancaster).


William and George both served in the Territorials and enlisted together as they have consecutive service numbers: George was originally assigned 1076 and William 1077; when the new numbers were issued, George was assigned 680141 and William 680142.  The two brothers were both posted to “B” Bty in 276 Bde and landed in France together with 55th (West Lancashire) Division on 30 September 1915.


55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont.  They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front.  Although there were no major engagements in early 1917, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids. 


In January 1917, 55th Division were first in reserve at Houtkerque, on the French/Belgian border, and then, on 25 January, they were moved up to support the defence of Ypres.  In March 1917, 276 Brigade were engaged in the bombardment of St. Julien (Sint Juliaan) in retaliation for German shelling of St Jean.  In May 1917, they were still at Ypres and the War Diary relates that from 2-10 May, “the group engaged various targets in enemy’s lines and vigorously retaliated for enemy firing on our trenches etc.”  Casualties were light but William was killed in action on 6 May 1917.  He was 24 years old.  His brother George must have been close by at the time.


Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680142

Date of Death:  06/05/1917

Age:  24

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “B” Bty, 276th Bde.

Grave Reference:  VI. K. 4.


Additional Information: Son of William and Ann Mary Corless, of 8 Mary Street, Lancaster.


George survived the War and returned to Lancaster, where he and his wife Edith had 4 children.  George died in 1958.

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