Private William Mansell was born in 1893 at 87, Bank Street, Tunstall. He was one of eight children born to Thomas and Mary, née Taylor, six of whom (according to the 1911 census) had died by 1911 when Thomas, who was an ironworker, was a widower. In 1901 the family were living at 16, Union Street, Chell moving to 16, Turnhurst Road, Chell by 1911. William was then 17 years old and working as a pit boy underground. The date when William moved to Brindley Ford is unknown, although British Legion records show that his home address was African House, Brindley Ford.
William enlisted at Tunstall on December 2nd 1914 joining the 8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. This battalion initially trained at Colchester with their final intensive instruction being at Aldershot. With his training complete Williams’s medal card shows he went to France on September 1st 1915. He presumably went out with a replacement draft joining the 8th Battalion in the field. This unit had been in France since May 1915 attached to 36th Brigade 12th Eastern Division.
Within a month of Williams’s arrival in Flanders the 8th Battalion were ordered into battle at Loos on September 29th. It was here the division sustained heavy losses in their brave actions at Hohenzollern Redoubt. The beginning of 1916 found them in a quiet area until the Fusiliers were ordered to prepare for the Battle of the Somme in July. From July 7th they went into action at Mash Valley, Ovillers and Pozieres, actions which resulted in many casualties. The battle continued until November 1916. Local newspapers reported that William was twice wounded, however no details have been found.
Throughout the winter the 12th Division held their positions with little progress until April 1917 when William and his mates would see further action in the Arras Offensive, fighting in the Third Battle of Scarpe. On May 3rd 1917, during attacks to capture Roeux and Pelves, sadly Private William Mansell fell in battle. His medal card records “Death Pres. 3-5-17”. He was never found and with no known grave is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel, Saturday October 6th 1917: “Private W. Mansell, Royal Fusiliers of Brindley Ford enlisted December 2nd 1914 has been twice wounded. He has been reported wounded and missing since May 3rd last.”
William is remembered on the Arras Memorial in France and in his home village of Brindley Ford.
Elaine Bryan and Michael Turnock.