681920 GNR. W. T. HALL. R.F.A.
William Thomas Hall was born in 1898 in Shrewsbury. His father was Thomas Hall (b. 1871 in St Erth, Cornwall), a life assurance agent. Thomas’s father also worked for Royal Star Assurance and the Hall family moved around the country quite a bit. In the 1870s they moved to the West Midlands and Tom was married in 1894 to Annie Sophia Bray (b. 1871 in Shrewsbury). They had three children: Reginald (b. 1896), then William, then Nesta (b. 1902). Just after William was born the family moved briefly to Devon and by 1905 they were in Birkenhead – which is where Thomas died in 1905. So in 1911, Annie was living at 22 Church Road, Tranmere. She was a tobacconist and hairdresser. Her three children were living with her, as was her father and a domestic servant. William Thomas was then 13 and still at school. In 1911, just after the Census was taken, Annie remarried. Her second husband was John Brown (no biographical details known).
William enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery probably in 1916 as soon as he turned 18. He was assigned service number 2328, which was later changed to 681920. He was posted to “C” Battery in 276 Brigade. 276 Brigade formed part of 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Division landed in France on 29 September 1915 but William was not with them, he joined them in the field, possibly in 1917. 55th 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 Hall died of wounds on 25 August 1917. He died at No 3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek, near Ypres. He was barely 19 years old.
Service No: 681920
Date of Death: 25/08/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “C” Bty, 276th Bde.
Grave Reference: XVIII. A. 14.
Cemetery: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY