Died of gas poisoning on May 5th 1915
William Henry Shallcross was born circa 1889; the son of Joseph and Emma Jane Shallcross and the eldest of five sons. His childhood was spent in the Gillow Heath area of the parish and on Easter Sunday in 1910 he married Martha (Patty) Bailey at St. Stephen’s, Congleton. The young couple can be found on the 1911 census living at 136, John Street, Biddulph. William’s occupation at this time was given as a coal miner and it was his occupation that led to the couple moving to Yorkshire. William, along with a number of other Biddulph men, moved to Goldthorpe, near Rotherham, Yorkshire where he found employment at the Hickleton Colliery. The couple resided at 10, Cross Street, Goldthorpe.
In September 1914 he enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry before being transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).
William’s battalion, as part of 5th Division, had gone to war in August 1914. Following his training, William joined them as part of a draft replacement in April 1915. Almost at once the new men were ordered into battle fighting in the 2nd Battle of Ypres and during April the battalion lost 420 men at Hill 60, and then on the May 5th, during a gas attack by the enemy, the battalion lost a further 300 brave soldiers who were without gas masks.
Sadly Private William Henry Shallcross was one of these brave men lost on that day. His death came after only one week on French soil.
After William’s death Martha returned to Congleton and from the November 29th 1915 was granted a widow’s pension of 10/- a week, which was less than the separation allowance of 12/6d that she had been receiving.
William Henry Shallcross has no known grave and is commemorated at Ypres on the Menin Gate memorial. Locally, his name appears on the churchyard cross and memorial board at St. Lawrence and on the Biddulph cenotaph.
Mike Turnock & Elaine Heathcote