William Waring was a young lad from a humble background, long rooted in the Wirral who died in the static winter front line following the Battle of Passchendaele.
Lance Corporal William Waring
William Waring was born 23 Jun 1896 in Tranmere, Birkenhead the illegitimate son of Margaret Waring (1876-???). He was baptised on 21 September 1896 at St Bridget, West Kirby where his grandparents lived. On 31 May 1898 Margaret married Alfred Ellis (1877-???) at St Bridget. Margaret and Alfred went on to have 7 daughters and a son (the last son and daughter born after William died).
At the 1901 census William Waring was living, as William Ellis, with his mother and stepfather at 1 Rock Cottages, New Brighton, where Alfred was a tram washer.
However at the 1911 census William had moved to West Kirby and was living with his grandparents, Thomas Waring (1850-1916) and Margaret Ann Carrington (1851-1926). Margaret Ann was herself illegitimate with a stepfather, and no doubt understood well the pitfalls of being a step child. For some reason William was recorded as their nephew.
Thomas and Margaret Ann had only moved to West Kirby in the 1890s. Thomas worked as a labourer for the Water Works. At least 5 generations of Warings had all been labourers of one form or another, starting as agricultural labourers and moving to general and building labourers as the Wirral rapidly urbanised during the course of the 19th century. William’s ancestors mostly came from Woodchurch, Oxton and Prenton originally, with Storeton, Neston and Bidston also featuring. Since at least the 1780s no-one had been born outwith the northern half of the Wirral peninsula. William’s ancestors generally married young and had large families, and he was related to many, many Warings in the Wirral. Until about 1900 there was little originality in their names, so there were several other William Warings around the area.
At the 1911 census at the age of 14 William had left school and was working for a grocer.
On 24 January 1916, with conscription looming, William signed up for the army at Birkenhead. He was 19 years old and tall at nearly 5 ft 10 in. He worked as a carter for T Creer. This must have been Thomas Creer, a dairyman for whom Ernest Houghton also worked before he enlisted. It is likely he had replaced Ernest when he had enlisted earlier in the war.
At that time the army was rather slower at getting new recruits into uniform than earlier in the war, so it was 21 February 1916 before William actually attested and was posted to the 14th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.
Cheshire Regiment cap badge
The 14th was a training battalion based at Prees Heath, Shropshire. The camp there opened in 1915 and could train 30,000 men at a time in trench warfare.
Prees Heath camp from here
On 26 June 1916 William was posted to the 11th Battalion, and 10 days later reposted to the 9th Battalion. Both these postings probably took place at a depot in France. The 9th Cheshires was a service battalion comprising soldiers of the New Army, all with no military experience before the war started.
The 9th Cheshires was part of the 58th Brigade of the 19th Division, and had suffered losses in the early days of the Battle of the Somme.
William remained with the battalion through the Battles of Ancre Heights and Ancre in France before they moved to Flanders for the 3rd Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele in the summer of 1917. The 9th Cheshires seem to have been primarily used in covering roles, supporting the attacks which were mainly made by ANZAC troops, but they clearly spent a lot of time in the front lines.
William was promoted to unpaid Lance Corporal on 25 Jun 1917.
Birkenhead News 19 January 1918
On 30 December 1917 William was killed in action near Ribecourt la Tour in Northern France. At the time there was no battle being fought, but Ribecourt la Tour was right on the front line when the Battle of Cambrai ended in November 1917. He was just another of the thousands of casualties of the daily attrition on the front line by shelling and snipers.
He is buried in the small Ribecourt Military Cemetery.
Ribecourt Military Cemetery
He is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial, the Rolls of Honour in St Bridget and St Andrew churches and on his grandparents’ grave in St Bridget’s churchyard (sadly now rather overgrown), all in West Kirby.
He left soldiers effects of about £13, and little more than his wallet, a broken watch and some photos and cards were returned to his mother in New Brighton.
Birth: 23 Jun 1896 at Tranmere, Birkenhead
Death: 30 Dec 1917 near Ribecourt la Tour, France; killed in action
Addresses: 1 Rock Cottages, New Brighton (01); 13 Brook Terrace, West Kirby (11); 7 Brook Terrace, West Kirby (16)
Unit: 9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 35504; Lance Corporal
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, France : Ribecourt British Cemetery, Ribecourt la Tour
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, SR, MC, DA, BN, Census: 01, 11, PR, RSE