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William Marshall – Killed in Action 1917

YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, West-Vlaanderen,, Belgium

William Marshall enlisted with the 20th battalion of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) in early 1916 and went to the front in July that year. William was killed in action, at the battle of Pilckem Ridge (Ypres), on 1st August 1917. William was aged 29 and the fourth son of Paul and Ellen Marshall of 14, Segars Lane Ainsdale. Southport, Lancashire. At the time of his death two of his brothers, Joseph and Edward, were also on active service in France and another in England.


Battle of Pilckem Ridge

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August 1917) was the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres in the First World War. The British Fifth Army, supported by the Second Army on the southern flank and the French 1reArmée (First Army) on the northern flank, attacked the German 4th Army, which defended the Western Front from Lille northwards to the Ypres Salient in Belgium and on to the North Sea coast. On 31 July, the Anglo-French armies captured Pilckem (Flemish: Pilkem) Ridge and areas on either side, the French attack being a great success. After several weeks of changeable weather, heavy rain fell during the afternoon of 31 July.

In the XIX Corps area in the centre and on the right of XVIII Corps, three reserve brigades advanced from the black line to the main objective (green line) and pressed on towards the red line, the furthest that exploitation on local initiative was allowed for in the plan. The weather changed and rain began to fall, cutting off the advanced British troops from view, just as German regiments from specialist counter-attack Eingreif divisions advanced over Passchendaele Ridge. To avoid being rolled up, the reserve brigades retreated through the green line to the black line, which the British artillery-observers could still see; the German infantry were prevented from advancing further by massed artillery and small-arms fire.

A substantial amount of ground had been captured by the British and French, except on the Gheluvelt Plateau on the right flank, where only the blue line (first objective) and part of the black line (second objective) were captured. A large number of casualties were inflicted on the German defenders during the attack and 5,626 prisoners were taken; the German Eingreif divisions recaptured some ground from the Ypres–Roulers railway northwards to St Julien, forcing the British back to the black line. For the next few days, both sides made local attacks to improve their positions, much hampered by the wet weather. The rains had a serious effect on operations in August, causing more problems for the British and French, who were advancing into the area devastated by artillery fire and partly flooded by the unseasonable rain.

Planning of battle

There was extensive planning for this operation as it was the first in a major operation of the Flanders offensive of 1917 to push the enemy out of Belgium.

As such the amount if detail of the planning for this attack is extensive. The following is the plans of the 89th Infantry Brigade for the battle of 31 July to 2 August 17.



1O JULY 1917

Reference Maps:

ZILLEBEKE. 1/10,000.

GIELUVELT. 1/10,000.

Sketch Map issued herewith. 1/10,000.

Section 1. General Summary of Scheme.


The Fifth Army will attack East and North-east of YPRES on a data to be notified later.

The II Corps will be on the right of the Fifth Army.

The 8th Division will attack on the left of the II Corps, the 30th Division in the centrs, and the 24th Division on the right.

The 25th Division will support the 8th Division. The 18th Division will support the 30th Division.


The objectives are the BLUE, BLACK, and GREEN LINES, and, if circumstances permit, the RED LINE, as shown on the attached map.


(a). The objectives as shewn by the boundaries on the attached map, will be carried by the 30th Division.

(b). The attack on the BLUE and BLACK LINES will be made by the 21st Infantry Brigade (on the right), and the 90th Infantry Brigade (on the left).

(c). The attack on the GREEN LINE will be made by the 89th Infantry Brigade (less two battalions in Divisional Reserve).

The 53rd Infantry Brigade, 18th Division, will pass through the 90th Infantry Brigade and will attack the GREEN LINE, and, if circumstances permit, the RED LINE also.

(d). The attack will be made on the leap-frog system.

(e). The pace of the advance will be 100 yards per 4 minutes.

(f). There will be a halt of 30 minutes on the BLUE LINE, and of 4 hours on the BLACK LINE.

(g). As soon as it has been definitely ascertained that the 89th Infantry Brigade are firmly established on the GREEN LINE, the following moves will take place under orders of the G.O.C. Division :

(i). The two Reserve Battalions, 89th Infantry Brigade will move forward and occupy the BLACK LINE from GLENCORSE WOOD Southwards to the Divisional Boundary.

(ii). The 21st Infantry Brigade will occupy the BLUE LINE from CLAPHAM JUNCTION southwards to the Divisional Boundary, and the old German trenches west of it.

(iii). The 90th Infantry Brigade will be withdrawn to the neighbourhood of BTILEBEKE LAKE.

(iv). The area North of a line through MAPLE LODGE, CLAPKAM JUNCTION, and South edge of GLENCORSE WOOD will be taken over by the 18th Division.

(h). From Zero plus 2 hours onwards the two battalions 80th Infantry Brigade in Divisional Reserve will be prepared to move at half-an-hours notice.


on Y/Z night the 89th Infantry Brigade will be assembled as follows:

Brigade Headquarters. Dug-out in FENN TRENCH (Test of WELLINGTON CRESCENT.)

17th Battalion K.L.R. & 2 Stokes mortars. PROMENADE.

20th Battalion K.L.R & 2 Stokes mortars. PROMENADE    

19th Battalion K.L.R & 2nd Bn. Bedfordshire R. CHATEAU SEGARD Area.

1 Section, 89th Machine Gun Company. PROMENADE

3 Sections, 89th machine Gun Company. STERN TRENCH. (under orders of Corps Machine Gun Officer.)

Further instructions as to the assembly and the march thereto will be issued separately.


(a). The 89th Infantry Brigade (less two battalions) will attack the GREEN LINE from the South-west corner of POLYGON WOOD J.15.b.o/9 to the MENIN Road J.21.2.5/5 (Road inclusive on the left flank the track running along the South edge or GLENCORSE WOOD will be exclusive.

(b), The task will be carried out by the 20th Battalion K.I.R. (on the right), and the 17th Battalion K.L.R. (on the left).

The 19th Battalion K.L.R. and the 2nd Bn. Bedfordshire Regt. will be in Divisional Reserve.

(c). The frontage to be held on the GREEN LINE will be about 1260 yards.

(d). Cancelled see Amend 3

The dividing line between 20th Battalion K.L.R. and 17th Battalion K.LR, will be a line drawn from the North edge of NOTHAMPTON FARM J.15.0.85/73 to the BLACK LINE about 1.14.d.58/32, NORTHAMPTON FARM W111. be inclusive to 20th Battalion K.L.R.

(e). 1 Section, 89th Machine Gun Company, will accompany the attacking battalions.

(f). Two Stokes mortars will be attached to each attacking battalion.


(a). Each Battalion will attack on a front of 3 Companies, with 1 Company in Battalion Reserve.

(b). The 3 leading Companies will be formed in 2 waves; 2 platoons in the first wave, 2 platoons in the Second wave.

(c). The first wave will advance to the road which runs from J.15.2.64/85, through LONE HOUSE, to the MENIN Road at J.21.8.05/75, and thence to the point of junction with the 17th Infantry Brigade at J.21.a.08/20.

This line will be consolidated by the construction of strong points.

(d). The second ways will advance to the GREEN LINE from J.15.5.0/0 to the MENIN Road at J.21.8.5/5. where touch will be maintained with 17th Infantry Brigade.

(e) The 20th Battalion K.L.R. will detail a party under an Officer whose sole duty will be to ensure that touch is maintained with 17th Infantry Brigade.

Similarly, 17th Battalion K.L.R. will detail a party to maintain touch with 53rd Infantry Brigade

(f). Up to the BLACK LINE, or as near to it as possible, the advance will be carried out in artillery formation.


(a). The 89th Machine Gun Company will detail one section to accompany the attack, and as soon as the GREEN LINE is captured the guns of this section will be placed approximately as follows:


1 gun at LONE HOUSE.


1 gun at  on the MENIN Road about the junction with 17th Infantry Brigade.

As soon as these guns are in position the Section Commander will report their position to the Battalion Commanders concerned, and the two former guns will come under the command of the 0.C., 17th Battalion K.L.R., and the two latter under the command of the O.C., 20th Battalion K.L.R.

(b). The remainder of the Company will be under the orders of the Corps Machine Gun Officer for the purpose of forming a barrage 500 yards in advance of the BLACK and GREEN LINES, respectively, during the attack on these lines.

(c). The Machine Gun Companies of the 21st and 20th Infantry Brigades are being similarly employed, and a barrage will be formed which will cover the whole of the Divisional front.

The positions of Machine Gun Companies will be as follows (approximately)

89th Machine Gun Company. 12 guns J.13.0.1/3.

90th Machine Gun Company. 12 guns J.19.b./8.

21st Machine Gun Company. 12 guns J.19.0.1/7

(d). When the capture of the GREEN LINE has been definitely established, the following moves will take place under orders of the Division :

4 guns, 89th Machine Gun Company to assist in consolidation of GREEN LINE and come under orders of G.0.C.89th Infantry Brigade.

90th Machine Gun Company will be withdrawn.

21st Machine Gun Company, and 8 guns 89th Machine Gun Company will remain in position and be prepared to form an intense barrage on S.O.S. signal.

(e). 19th Battalion K.L.R. and 2nd Bn. Bedfordshire Regt. will each detail 12 men to act as carriers for 89th Machine Gun Company from July 20th onwards.


The 89th Trench Mortar Battery will place 2 guns at the disposal of 17th Battalion K.L.R., and 2 guns at the disposal of 20th Battalion K.L.R..

The remaining 6 guns will be left with the Transport lines, the personnel of them being used as a carrying party for the 4 guns which are being taken into action.

In addition, 24 men will be detailed from each of the 17th Battalion K.L.R. and 20th Battalion K.L.R. to act as carriers to the Trench Mortar Battery, and will report to O.C., 89th Trench Mortar Battery by 9 a.m., July 15th.

9.  Further instructions will be issued on the following subjects :

(a). March to the position of assembly.

(b). March from the position of assembly to the position of deployment.

(c). Consolidation.

(d). Intelligence and liaison.

(e). Communication.

(f). Artillery.

(g). Administrative.

Captain, Brigade Major.

89th Infantry Brigade.


Kit carried in attack

Stores to be carried.

Every man.


a). Unconsumed portion of day’s ration.

(b). one Iron emergency ration.


(a)120 rounds S.A.A. Carriers for Trench mortars will only carry 50 rounds S.A.A

(b) 2 Mills Grenades


(a). Entrenching tool and helve.

(b). 4 Sandbags.

(c). Small Box Respirator.

(d) P.H. Helvet.

(e). Water bottle full.

Greatcoats will NOT be carried.

50% of men

Pick or Shovel (Proportion of 1 Pick to 4 Shovels). Battalion may carry more if desired.

Each Bombing Section.


(a). Each Thrower – 10 Mills Grenades.

(b). Each Carrier – 20 Mills Grenades.

(c). Each Loader – 10 Mills Grenades.

Throwers only carry 50 rds. S.A A.

Every Bomber will have a coy attached to wrist.

Each Rifle Grenade Section.


(a). Each Grenadier – 10 No.20 or 24.

(b).  Each Grenadier 5 No.23 Rifle


The establishment of cups for Mills Rifle Grenades will be evenly distributed between the Bomber Sections. Each man of the Bomber Section will carry 50 rds. Blank Ammunition for firing Rifle Grenades

Divided up in each Platoon.


(a). Wire-breakers. Allotment will be made later.

(b). Wire cutters S.A. Mk.1.

17th Battalion K.L.R. 166.

20th Battalion K.L.R 166.

19th Battalion K.L.R. 84.

2nd Bi. Bedford. R. 81.

(c). Wire cutters 14″ – 24 per Battalion.

(d). Mk.5. Allotment later.

(e). Hedging gloves: 17th Battalion. K.L.R. 16 pairs. , 20th Battalion. K.L,R. 16 pairs.


One days rations consisting of

1 lb. Preserved Meat.

1 lb. Biscuit.

2 oz. Sugar

3/8 oz. Tea.

1/4 tin M&V

3 oz. Jam.

 will be issued to all Troops. These are to be treated as a reserve and are only to be consumed in the event of an enemy barrage preventing the delivery of ordinary supplies. These rations will be dumped in the Assembly Trenches.

Rations for Y and Z days will be issued on X day and arrangements must be made for Z day rations to be taken forward with y day rations as no transport will be allowed to move forward of the Canal on Y/Z night,

An issue of Rum will be made on X day.

Charcoal will be issued for cooking in the Assembly Trenches.


Transport will be brigaded near Canal Reserve Camp H.27.b.5.3. Water Point H.28.b.

Orders for the Divisional Pack Convoy have been issued under S.C.4.9886.


Water points will be established at –


2. MAPLE COPSK.(This cannot be relied on).

3. Wells at CRAB CRAWL dugouts. (Only a limited supply of water and not very good quality.

The last two sources therefore should only be treated as a possible reserve.

A supply of petrol tins will also be issued to each unit. In addition Fifty gallon casks will be placed in position in the Assembly Trenches.

Use of Gas, Smoke, etc.

Under 30th Division arrangements GAS will be discharged from our front line on the 12th July, or first favourable opportunity. Targets being :


Orders on this point will be issued later. The code for “GAS will probably be discharged at… . a.m.” will be * NIGHTINGALE probably at……a.m.

If the above discharge is successful further discharges will be arranged every suitable night, and again on the 16th July.

on “Z” day a discharge of THERMITE (molten metal) will take place on Northern portion of CLONMEL COPSE, from J.19.0.35/25 – J.19.0.55/25 Northwards, and on junction of JEFFREY SUPPORT with JEFFREY RESERVE.

War Diaries July – 3 August 1917

DORMY HOUSE, Ref Map ZILLEBEKE 1 10,000 I23 à 6/5


Enemy Artillery fairly quiet all day. Companies worked on trenches, repairing where BOCHE bombardment had caused damage, and cleaning them. Patrols reconnoitred enemy wire during the night. 


Enemy Artillery very active from early morning till late at night, shelling Battalion Sub sector, Z?LLEBIKE Village, and back areas. On account of the close observation exercised by the BOCHE, much of yesterday’s work on restoration of trenches was rendered abortive by shell fire, parapets being again breached in several places.

Information received that a German prisoner, recently captured, states Germans are massing in C 24. for a big attack, to be launched this week


Enemy Artillery fairly active on front and support lines, ZILLEBEKE Village and BUND and also back areas. In the evening our guns retaliated on his back areas.

‘D’ Company in front line sent out two Patrols for the purpose of entering BOCHE Trenches and obtaining prisoner, or identification; but owing to the brightness of the night, enterprise had to be abandoned. Enemy reported to be keenly on the alert at night in this Sub-sector, also to be somewhat nervous of our movements.


Enemy shelled back areas heavily during the morning. We retaliated in afternoon and evening apparently with good effect, as the BOCHE fire was noticeably reduced.

Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. the following inter Coy relief was carried out; – ‘D’ Coy (In front line) relieved by ‘B’ Coy. ‘C’ Coy remained in Support in WELLINGTON CRE?CENT TA’ Coy (ZILLEBEKE BUND ) relieved ”B’ Coy in NORMAN and STANLEY STREET (Support) Battalion Headquarters remained at DORMY HOUSE.

Relief complete within prescribed period; no casualties.


About 4 a.m. enemy shelled sector on left heavily. At 8 a.m. Officers of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment (of relieving Brigade) reported at Battalion Head Quarters, and were conducted round the trenches. Enemy shelled intermittently throughout the day.


In accordance with Brigade Operation Orders 112 the Battalion was relieved by the 7th Batt Queens (Royal West Surrey Regt) and on completion of relief marched to RENINGHEL ST were breakfast was served

RENINGHELST Ref Map BELGIUM sheet 28.  1. 40.000


At 2 p.m. the Battalion entrained, detraining at WATTEN and from there marched to RECQUES. 2nd Lt J.W. Simpson and 5 0.R. proceeded on leave to U.K. July 7th.

RECQUES 8th Ref Map HAZEBROUCK 5a. 1740.000


Church Parades were held at Battalion Headquarters during the morning. Cpl H. Evans proceeded to Fifth Army Gas School for course of instruction.


Companies were inspected by the Commanding Officer in the morning and during the afternoon Co y bathing was carried out.


At 9 a.m. the Battalion paraded in Drill Order and proceeded to training ground for training in accordance with Brigade schedule, dinners being served at 2 p.m.

2nd Lt G.G.Nickel lectured to Officers and N.0.0’s on Map reading and the use of the Compass. 2nd Lt G.A.B.Ross and 6 0.R. proceeded to the Corps Reinforcement Camp.


Battalion paraded for Musketry and Range practice.


Lewis Gunners, Bombers, and Signallers were trained under their respective Officers, and at 1.50 p.m. in accordance with schemes issued to Company Commanders the Battalion paraded in battle order for training. 2nd Lt E. Rigby Jones appointed A/Captain to date from 28.5.17. At 6 p.m. the “OPTIMISTS” gave a Concert to the Battalion.


During the morning Platoon and Company attack was carried out. In the evening the Battalion marched in battle order to TOURNEHEM bivouacking there till 3.15 a.m. 14th .inst.


At 3.15 a.m. Divisional Attack practice was carried out on the Picture Ground. Lt W.W. Brown proceeded to Veterinary Course at CALAIS.. Capt C.A. Emery and 5 0.R. proceeded to U.K. on leave.


Church services were held during the morning at 1.45 p.m. the Divisional Horse Show was held Companies marching there

RECQUES Ref Map 16th HAZEBROUCK 5a 1 40.000


As on the 14th inst. Battalion paraded for Divisional Attack practice.


Companies during the day were trained in attack, and rapid wiring, Sgt L. Ashcroft proceeded to 11 Corps Infantry School for instruction. A Concert was given by the “Very Lights” at 6 pm.


At 6.45 a.m. the Battalion Transport moved ta STEENVOORDE West area. Firing practice in ‘C’ area was carried out from 7.30 a.m. and continued during the day.. Lt C.C. Snowden, Lt AL Ashton and 14 0.R. proceeded to U.K, on leave..


The Battalion moved to STEENVOORDE Area(West) embussing on the NORDAUSQUES-GRAVELINES road, arriving at destination at 7 p.m. and taking over Billets.



All Companies paraded for inspection by 0.C. Companies, 30.R. proceeded to Kite Balloon Course.


Parades were carried out by Companies in accordance with Brigade schedule..


Church Parades were held near Battalion Headquarters during the morning.


Companies trained in accordance with Brigade Schedule.


Capt E. Rigby Jones, 2nd LT W.C. Dawson and 12 0.R. proceeded to U.K, on leave.

Parading at 6.30 a.. the Battalion marched to DALLINGTON CAMP(L 35 b. 1/5) via STEENVOORDE and ABEELE and took over Bivouacs and Billets.

2nd G.A.B. Ross proceeded to the fifth Army Trench Mortar Course from 11 Corps Reinforcement Camp

2nd Lt W.B. Green, 2nd Lt W Abraham joined for duty and proceeded to 11 Corps Reinforcement Camp.

2nd Lt W.H.M. O’Connor, 2nd Lt A. Harkness proceeded to 1l Corps Reinforcement Camp.

DALLINGTON CAMP REF MAP Sheet 27 1 40.000 L.35b.1/5


Companies visited the PICTURE GROUND. Two Companies at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the remaining two Companies at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.


Bullet and Bayonet training was carried out by Companies during the day on the Camp ground. Companies in attack, Bomb throwing and Rifle Grenade practice.


Companies paraded for training as per yesterdays programme. Sgt Mould proceeded to U.K. on leave.


Bayonet fighting, Company attack practice and Musketry was carried out by Companies during the morning and afternoon..

According to Brigade wire B.M. 352;- information points to the enemy withdrawing from our front to the north of PILKIM, our troops have moved forward several miles to the east.

Patrols on this Divisional front, have been ordered to push forward.

At 7.45 p.m. Battalion moved to CORNWALL CAMP (G 30 a. 8/8) via RENINGHELST and OUDERDOM arriving there at about ll p.m. and taking over Billets and tents.

Companies visited the PICTURE GROUND. Two Companies at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the remaining two Companies at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.

Bullet and Bayonet training was carried out by Companies during the day on the Camp ground. Companies in attack, Bomb throwing and Rifle Grenade practice. Companies paraded for training as per yesterday’s programme. Sgt Mould M. Proceeded to U.K. on leave.

Bayonet fighting, Company attack practice and Musketry was carried out by Companies during the morning and afternoon..

According to Brigade wire B.M. 352;- information points to the enemy withdrawing from our front to the north of PILKIM, our troops have moved forward several miles to the east.

Patrols on this Divisional front, have been ordered to push forward.

At 7.45 p.m. Battalion moved to CORNWALL CAMP (G 30 a. 8/8) via RENINGHELST and OUDERDOM arriving there at about ll p.m. and taking over Billets and tents.

CORNWALL CAMP REF MAP Sheet 28 N.W. 1 20.000


Throughout the day preparations were made for forthcoming operations, bombs, flares, spades and picks being drawn. At 9.45 p.m. the Battalion marched in Battle Order to CHATEAU SEGARD AREA No 2. via OUDERDOM, ST.HUBERTUSHO HK, DICKEBUSH, and CAFE BELGE, and took up position in the trenches there.


Transport, Quartermasters Stores and Details moved during the day to CANAL RESERVE CAMP (N 27 b. 573).

At 10 pm. the Battalion moved from CHATEAU SEGARD AREA to the WESTERN PORTION OF THE PROMENADE via track ‘H’ and Pack Track to the PROMENADE.


With reference to 89th Infantry Brigade “Instructions for forthcoming Operations” Section 1, the Fifth Army attacked on July 31st, ZÉRO being 3.50 a.m.

The ll Corps were on the right of the Fifth Army. The 8th Division attacked on the left of the LL Corps, the 30th Division in the centre, and the 24th Division on the right. The 25th Division were in support to the 8th Division, and the 18th Division were supporting the 30th Division. ??? No.1

The objectives were the Blue, Black, and Green Lines as shewn in Map.

The attack on the Blue and Black Lines within the 30th Divisional Area, were to be made by 21st Infantry Brigade (on the right) and the 90th Infantry Brigade (on the left).

The attack on the Green Line was to be made by 89th Infantry Brigade, less two Battalions (the 19th Batt. K.L,R and 2nd Batt. Bedfordshire Regt) in Divisional Reserve.

The 89th Infantry Brigade’s task was to attack the Green Line from the S.W corner of POLYGON WOOD J.15.5.0/9 to the MENIN ROAD J.21.a.5/5 (Road inclusive). This task was allotted to 20th Batt. K.L.R. (on the right) and the 17th Batt. K.L.R (on the left).

The dividing line between Battalions was a line drawn from the Black Line about J.14.d.58/32 to where the Green Line crossed the road at J.15.0.68/68, and thence along toad (inclusive to 17th Batt. K.L.R) to German trench at J.15.d.30/59.


10 pm. In accordance with 89th Infantry Brigade 3.55, the 20th Battn. K.L.R left CHATEAU SEGARD, and moved to Western portion of PROMENADE, South of Zillebeke Lake. This movement was completed ) midnight, with very little hostile shelling and without causalities.

10.0 no 154



3.50 a.m Zero. 

5.0 a.m. Officers from each company were sent forward to reconnoitre the forward assembly positions east of MAPLE COPSE.


5.40 a.m. The Battalion moved, in rear of 17th Batt. K.L.R., to it’s assembly positions, where it was formed up in shell holes by 6.50 a.m. No hostile shelling interfered with assembly until about 7.0 a.m when shelling commenced rather heavily, causing about 15 to 20 casualties.

7.50 8.m.Message sent to Brigade, reporting that Battalion was moving forward. The advance was made by Platoons in single file, B.C and D Companies in front, and A Company in support, followed by Battalion Headquarters. B Company was on the left of the Battalion, in touch with 17th Batt. K.L.R, and responsible for direction. By this time the hostile shelling had developed into a regular barrage, which continued until the Battalion had got through the enemy’s front and support lines. In spite of the close proximity of the enemy’s shells, casualties were comparatively small during the advance.


The left and centre Companies met with no organised bodies of troops at all, nor did the support Company, but the right Company found a party of 2nd Batt. Yorkshire Regt consolidating on the Eastern edge of BODIN COPSE. 0.0.right Company also found H.Q. 19th Batt. Manchester Regt at about J.19.0.70/05, where he learned Black Line was not taken.

See “Reportion operations appendix 21.

10.10 a.m. Battalion Headquarters were established in a crater at J.13.0.8/0, as it was realised that the Black Line had not been taken, and soon messages were received by lamp and runner from the Companies to the effect that they were unable to proceed further owing to heavy machine gun to fire.

11.0 a.m. Message sent to Brigade, reporting BLACK LINE had not been taken, Battalion held up by heavy machine gun fire, and that Companies were digging in and consolidating in a line running South from STIRLING CASTLE. The position here was a strong one, more particularly the strong point at J.19.6.75/65, where there were eventually seven Lewis Guns and a field of fire of at least 1000 yards to the South. At this time and throughout the action, the Battalion was in touch with 17th Batt. K.L.R., on the left, but it was not until the next day that liaison was established with 2nd Batt. Wiltshire Regt on our right.

ZILLIBEE 1/10,000

11.0 a.m. Officer in charge of B.27 Tank reported that he had been unable to get beyond the edge of INVERNESS COPSE, where he had encountered a large number of concrete machine gun emplacements against which he had been unable to make any impression, and that his Tank had been set on fire,

11.6.a.m. B.M. 383 received from Brigade stating that the barrage was being brought back on INVERNESS COPSE, and JARGON and JAP Trench, at 10,20 a.m, and ordering the 17th and 20th Batts. K.L.R. to co-operate in a further attack. This was received too late for compliance.

2.35 p.m. 89th Infantry Brigade B.M.387 was received, stating that ground in J.14 had to be attacked. This was acknowledged, but it was also reported that further attack was considered useless without a barrage to deal with hostile machine guns.


Patrols were sent out every night, but in no case did they come into contact with the enemy who seemed very nervous from the number of Very Lights he sent up.

On no occasion was a counter attack definitely launched against our line, but at 3.0 pm on  31st July enemy were seen advancing through the wood in front, and consequently the Battalion “stood to”.


Operation Order No.119 was received from Brigade, stating that 19th Batt. K.L.R and 2nd Batt. Bedfordshire Teat. were to relieve Battalions of the 53rd Infantry Brigade. This relief was carried out during the night 31st July/1st Aug. The Battalion continued to hold the position taken up on the morning of the 31st July. After the first day, the weather was very wet and the going very difficult, but the men’s spirits remained wonderfully good. From time to time there was very heavy enemy shelling, and in addition to this machine guns and snipers were very active. The work of communication was extremely difficult , and the wires to Companies and to Battalions on our flanks. were repeatedly cut, and were only kept going by most excellent work by our linesmen, who suffered very heavy casualties, as also did the runners.



In accordance with 89th Infantry Brigade 0.0.NO.120 the 17th and 20th Battns. K.L.R were relieved by 7th Battn. Royal West Kent Regt on the night 3/4th August. Relief began at 9.30 pm on the 3rd and was completed by 1.20 a.m on the 4th August. In spite of the heavy rain which had fallen during the previous days and the consequent heavy going, this passed off satisfactorily with only four casualties, the night being fortunately the quietest since the commencement of operations.



5.0 am. On relief the Battalion moved via the Pack Mule Track and DORIY HOUSE to CHATEAU SEGARD area

where a hot meal awaited the men, and where they rested before proceeding later in the day to CORNWALL CAMP, OUDERDOM

The following is a list of Officers who took part in the operations : –

HEADQUARTHRS. Major Campbell. N. Watson (Commanding during operations).

Capt. C.A. Emery. (Adjutant)

2nd Lt. R.J. Barrett (Bombing Officer)

2nd Lt. L. Peat (Signalling Officer)

Attached to Headquarters.

Medical Officer. Capt. J. Warwick.

Chaplain. Rev. E.N. Moore.

“A” Company

Capt. E.P. Beaumont (0.C.Coy)

2nd Lt. MacMillan.

2nd Lt. L.J. Argent.

2nd Lieut. C. Wheater.

“B” Company.

Capt. C.P. Loore (0.C.Coy)

2nd Lt. W. Munro.

2nd Lt. G.H. Jones.

2nd Lt. J.L. Jones.

“C” Company.

2nd Lt. J.C. Muir (0.C.Coy)

2nd Lt. J.W. Simpson.

2nd Lt. J.P. Lunt

“D” Company.

Capt. J. Bickersteth (0.C.Coy)

2nd Lt. W.E.P. Betts.

2nd Lt. C.W.P. Simpson.

Liaison Officers. 2nd Lt. G.G. Nickel (with 3rd Batt. Rifle Brigade on right),  D. Burbidge. (with 17th Batt. K.L.R. on left).

Casualties. The casualties during operations were: –

Killed. 2 Officers (2nd Lt. G.G. Nickel. and 2nd Lt. J.W. Simpson) and 31 Other Ranks

Wounded 6 Officers (2nd Lt. C. Wheater. 2nd Lt. I.J. Argent. 2nd Lt. J. MacMillan. 2nd Lt. J.P. Lunt, 2nd Lt. W. Munro, 2nd Lt. J.L. Jones) and 149 Other Ranks

Missing. 9 Other Ranks

Wounded at Duty. 3 Officers (Major C.N. Watson. Capt. J. Warwick. and 2nd Lt. J.C. Muir) and 5 Other Ranks

The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) – 20th Battalion

The Regiment was first formed in 1685 by Lord Ferrars of Chartly as ‘Princess Anne of Denmark’s Regiment of Foot’ after King James II’s second daughter (later Queen Anne).  It was formed in response to the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 when, James Scott the 1st Duke of Monmouth (the oldest illegitimate son of Charles II and James II’s nephew) unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the unpopular King.  His small force was swiftly put down at the Battle of Sedgemoor.  The Regiment was under the command of James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick; the illegitimate son of King James II.  In 1688 James II fled to France when Prince William of Orange was invited by the English Lords to become King William III.  The Duke of Berwick decided to follow his father into exile and was replaced by Colonel John Beamon as the commanding officer of the Regiment.

In 1881 the regiment was renamed The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and in 1921 became The King’s Regiment (Liverpool). The Regiment is one of only four Regiments associated with a city, unlike most British infantry Regiments, which are associated with a county.  The Regiment went on to serve during the Third Burmese War (1885), Second Boer War (1899-1902), and two World Wars.  In 1958 after 273 years of continuous existence, the Regiment was amalgamated with the Manchester Regiment, and became The King’s Regiment (Manchester and Liverpool).  In 2004 the British infantry was restructured once again and the King’s Regiment was merged with King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment to form The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border).

The Regiment formed 49 battalions and were awarded 58 Battle Honours and six Victoria Crosses, losing 15,000 men during the course of the war.

20th (Service) Battalion (4th City)
Formed in Liverpool on 16 October 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot.
30 April 1915 : came under orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division.
Landed at Boulogne in November 1915.
8 February 1918 : disbanded in France.

Personal Life of William Marshall

William Marshall was born in 1888 to Paul and Ellen (nee Ainscough ) Marshall at  Ainsdale, Lancashire, England. At that time he had 3 brothers and 2 sisters , Thomas, born in 1875, John, born in 1877, Alice, born in 1879,  Joseph, born on 31 May 1880 and, Mary Ellen , born on 13 Nov 1882, all in Ainsdale, Lancashire, England. His father was a Labourer.

He later had two other brothers both born Ainsdale, Lancashire, England, These were Paul born in 1893 and Edward born on 8 Sep 1895.

William was age 13 and living with his parents in the 1901 UK Census on 31 Mar 1901 at Mill Lane in Ainsdale, Lancashire, England.

William was age 23 and living with his parents in the 1911 UK Census on 2 Apr 1911 at Mill Lane in Ainsdale, Lancashire, England where he  was a Van Driver.

William served in the military Regiment: The King’s (Liverpool Regiment); Rank: Private; Service number: 36040 in 1917, enlisting in early 1916.

William was killed in action on 1 Aug 1917 at age of 29 years and is commorated on Panel 4 and 6 at the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium.

His father died on 22 Jan 1934 at age of 83 years and his mother died on 9 Sep 1924 at age of 69 years both in Southport, Lancashire, England.

His brother Joseph, who served in France in the first world war, died on 13 Sep 1944, aged 64. His sister Mary Ellen died on 29 Apr 1960, aged 77, both in Southport, Lancashire, England. His brother Edward, who served in France in the first world war, died in 1967 aged 71. All three siblings were living together in 1939, Edward being widowed.

Press Announcements

Southport Visiter 1st September 1917

Private Marshall was the fourth son of Mr & Mrs Marshall, 14 Mill Lane, Ainsdale, and was 29 years of age. Prior to the war he was employed by Messrs Coulton. He joined the Army early in 1916, and went to the front in July of that year. Two other brothers, Joseph and Edward, were serving in France at the time, and another in England.

Census Records

Grave Details

YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, West-Vlaanderen,, Belgium

His war grave details can be seen here.  This links to the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website.

Remembered in Birkdale Cemetery.

William Marshall

Loving Memory

“Aunty Mollie”


Ypres (now Ieper) is a town in the Province of West Flanders. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while buglers of the Last Post Association sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial’s arches.

Panel Numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment with which the casualty served. In some instances, where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may appear within their Regimental Panels. Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction. All odd panel numbers are on the North side of the road and even numbers are located on the South side of the road.

Steps on either side of the memorial leading to the rear of the memorial, make wheelchair access to the rear impossible. There is however, a slope at the side of the memorial which gives wheelchair users some access but due to the incline, it may not be possible to ascend/descend unaided.

Please note that every Friday, all wreaths positioned under the Menin Gate will be checked and removed as necessary, with the exception of those placed on the floral tribute the previous evening.

The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.

The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.

You can view the details for this cemetery on the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website here.

Sources of Information

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Find My Past

National Archives

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