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William Hinton

William HintonPrivate William Hinton, 1819, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1st/4th Battalion

William Hinton was born in Rossendale, Lancashire in late 1895, the eldest child of Rossendale-born gas stoker, Frank Hinton and his Liverpool-born wife, Margaret (nee Bell), who married in the Haslingdon area of Lancashire in the summer of 1895. The couple had eight children from their marriage, but one child died before April 1911.

In 1901 the family were living at Rawtenstall, Lancashire, but between 1903 and 1907, the couple moved to Ossett, and by 1911 they were living at 2, The Green, Ossett with all seven of their children, who were between 1 and 15 years of age. The two youngest children were born in Ossett and Earlsheaton. William, or Willie, Hinton, aged 15, was working as a piecer in a woollen mill.

William Hinton’s army service record has not survived but it is known that he enlisted at Ossett and joined the 1/4 King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry) with service number 1819. He embarked for France on the 13th April 1915 and he was posthumously awarded the British, Victory and the 1914/15 Star medals.

The Territorial 1/4th Battalion of KOYLI was formed in August 1914 at Wakefield as a part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. They moved on mobilisation to Doncaster and in November 1914 to Gainsborough then on to York in February 1915. On the 12th of April 1915 they landed at Boulogne and on the 15th May 1915, the formation became 148th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.

The "War Diary" of 1/4 KOYLI notes that on the 7th August 1916, the 1/4 Battalion of KOYLI were moved to bivouacs in Aveluy Wood and for the next ten days or so, the battalion providing men to work with the Royal Engineers in Working Parties on 'parallels'. There were many casualties during this period from enemy shelling and 9 men were killed with 56 more being wounded, including Private William Hinton, who was to die from his wounds in hospital.

Trenches were usually laid out in zigzags running back and forth at angles of from forty to fifty degrees. At irregular intervals they were crossed by parallels, which connected the zigzag lines, and also served as places of shelter in which troops could be massed for an assault. The trenches and parallels, as a rule, were four to five feet in width and five to five and a half feet in depth, and the walls were heightened in some places with sandbags, laid in such a way as to leave narrow crevices between them, for observation and 'sniping.'

The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this obituary for William Hinton:

"Ossett Territorial's Death In Hospital - An Excellent And Fearless Soldier - Private Wm. Hinton, whose death is reported to have occurred in the First South African General Hospital, Abbeville, lived before the war at South-street, Ossett, and was one of the employees of Mr. Ernest Hepworth, mungo manufacturer. He was already serving when the war broke out, for he was with the local Territorials in camp and went to France with them in April last year. He was one of the victims of the gas attack in December, 1915, but recovered and went back to the trenches. Some eight weeks ago he was home on leave, and could not have been back very long when he received the wounds which resulted in his death on August 21st.

Private Hinton, whose parents live in Earlsheaton, was only 21 years of age. He was formerly a member of the Holy Trinity Church Lads' Brigade in Ossett. He was attached to the scout section of K.O.Y.L.I. and his officer has written this letter to his father: 'I am very sorry indeed to hear that your son, William Hinton, has died of his wounds. I hope you will accept my very sincere sympathy in your sorrow. I trust that it will be some consolation to you to know that your son was an excellent soldier. He was one of the best scouts in my section, and I always found him quite fearless, and the kind of man that I could thoroughly rely on to do risky work well. He was severely wounded by a shell while with a working party. I and my section all feel his loss very deeply, especially as he was always particularly cheerful, even under the worst conditions. He could not possibly have done his duty more thoroughly.'

One of the deceased's comrades, Lance-corporal H. Parkinson has also written: 'It is with the deepest sympathy on behalf of the scout section that I am writing these few lines to you to express our sorrow at losing your son, Willie. He is in the same section as myself, and will be sadly missed by all the boys, as he was a very good soldier and always did his duty well, whatever there was to do. I am sure we all mourn your loss, and you have the deepest sympathy from everyone of us in the section, as he was a brave lad, and gave his life for King and country."

Private William Hinton, aged 21 years, Son of Frank and Margaret Hinton, of 103, Sands Rd., Earlsheaton, Dewsbury, died on the 16th August 1916 and is buried at grave reference V.H.2. at the Abbeville Communal Cemetery,2 Somme, France. The town of Abbeville is on the main road from Paris to Boulogne (N1), about 80 kilometres south of Boulogne.

For much of the First World War, Abbeville was headquarters of the Commonwealth lines of communication and No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals were stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. The communal cemetery was used for burials from November 1914 to September 1916, the earliest being made among the French military graves. The extension was begun in September 1916.

During the early part of the Second World War, Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components an they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery contains 774 Commonwealth burials of First World War and 30 from the Second. The Extension contains 1,754 First World War burials and 348 from the Second.


1. "Ossett Observer", 2nd September 1916

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site