680668 GNR. W. FISHER.  R.F.A.

 

William Fisher was born in Preston in the third quarter of 1894.  His father was Isaiah Fisher (b. 1861 in Garstang), an agricultural labourer and gardener.  His mother was Eleanor Duckworth (b. 1867 in Durham).  Isaiah was previously married and had a daughter, Lily (1886-1896), by his first wife but she died and he married for a second time in 1887.  Isaiah and Eleanor then had three children: James (b. 1889), Annie (b. 1893) and finally William.  Eleanor died in 1907.  In 1911, William was living in lodgings, with his father, at 34 German Street, Preston.  William was working as a general labourer in a variety theatre.  German Street no longer exists but it was off Ribbleton Lane, not far from Dunmore Street, which is where Sophia Bradshaw lived.  Sophia was born in Preston in 1893 and she and William were married in January 1914.  William was probably in the Territorials and at the end of that year he signed up to go to War.  He was assigned service number 2163 and posted to “B” Battery of 276 Brigade.  His service number was later changed to 680668.  Although most of 55th Division landed in France in September 1915, there was a contingent who arrived a little later.  William joined the Division in the field on 23 December 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. 

 

1917: Third Battle of Ypres

From 55th Divisional History:  "The objective of what was called the Third Battle of Ypres was the capture of the enemy's Gheluvelt-Langemark system...  The weather during the whole of June and during the greater part of July had been ideal for campaigning purposes.  Unfortunately, on Sunday 29 July a particularly heavy thunderstorm filled up the shell holes and turned roads and tracks into a morass.  The succeeding days were dull and hazy, making the completion of the artillery preparation peculiarly difficult and typical Flanders weather conditions prevailed on the morning of the 31st - the moment chosen for the attack.  Low lying clouds which made aerial observation and cooperation as difficult as could be imagined; a dampness of atmosphere, threatening rain at any moment; a half sodden ground, greasy and depressing; such was the luck of the weather at 3.50am on 31 July 1917, when the barrage opened.  Not since the war began had so intense a barrage been put down, and of its wonderful effectiveness all ranks in the line bore eloquent testimony."

 

William Fisher was killed on the opening day of the battle.  He was 23 years old.

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680668

Date of Death:  31/07/1917

Age:  23

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

Grave Reference:  V. B. 27.

Cemetery:  VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of Isaiah Fisher; husband of Sophia Cusse (formerly Fisher), of 23 Dunmore Street, Preston, Lancs.

 

After the War, Sophia re-married.  In 1920, she married Leonard Valentine Cusse (b. 1893 in Portsmouth).  Leonard had been a career soldier and through the War he served with the East Lancashire Regiment.

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