RFA West Lancs Bdes
687305 PVT. W. A. C. ROTHWELL. R.F.A.
William Albert Croston Rothwell was born on 28 August 1894 in Bamber Bridge and was baptised at St Leonard’s, Walton Le Dale, on 14 October. His father was John Richard Rothwell (b. 1870 in Bamber Bridge), a cotton weaver. His mother was Margaret Annies Gardner (b. 1871 in Walton Le Dale). John and Margaret were married in 1891 and they had 6 children: Rosalie (b. 1892), then William, then Lily (1899-1903), May (b. 1903), John (b. 1908) and Eva (b. 1911). In 1911 the family was living at 5 Brown Street, Bamber Bridge. William was working as a weaver, like his father.
William was probably already in the Territorials when War broke out. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, with service number 1004, and was posted to “C” Battery of 276 Brigade (artillery for 55th (West Lancashire) Division). Later he was assigned a new service number, 687305. He landed in France on 30 September 1915.
55th Division fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, specifically at Guillemont (4-6 September) and Ginchy (9 September), then, after a short period of rest, they were back in action at Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). At the end of the year, they were moved to the Ypres Salient, close to Wieltje.
The first half of 1917 was spent in the salient, where the Division had a comparatively quiet time, if being surrounded by enemy on three sides and under constant artillery fire could be described as quiet. They were then engaged in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, at Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August). Between 30 July and 4 August, in the Division’s attack in the area of Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms, no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men were killed, wounded or missing. The Division was withdrawn to Recques for re-fit and training on 7 August. But it seems the Divisional artillery remained in the salient. Sadly, the War Diary for 276 Brigade seems to be missing the entries for July-September 1917, so all we know is that William died of wounds near Wieltje on 24 August 1917. He was 22 years old.
Service Number: 687305
Date of Death: 24/08/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "C" Bty. 276th Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: B. 8.
Cemetery: WIELTJE FARM CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John Richard and Margaret Annies Rothwell, of 4 Young Street, Preston.