13817 PTE. W. A. HARDMAN. L.N.LAN.R
William Alfred Hardman was born on 17 January 1897 in Bootle, Lancashire. His family situation is fairly complicated. His father was Alfred Hardman, b. 1861 in Bury. He met and married his first wife, Alice Ann Salthouse (b. 1862) in Bury in 1886 after which the couple moved to Walton where Alfred worked as a shoemaker. The couple had no children and Alice died in 1894. Two years later, Alfred married Ellen Heaton (b. 1866) in Toxteth. Their only child, William, was born the following year. Alfred died in 1903 whilst the family was living in Liverpool and Alfred was working as a chip-potato dealer. Two years later, Ellen re-married in West Derby, her new husband being Trevor York Goodburn, b. 1876 in West Derby, and 10 years her junior. Ellen and Trevor had two children of their own: Harold (b. 1906 in West Derby) and Leonard (b. 1909 in Leyland). By 1911 the family were living at 121 Ward’s Terrace, Lostock Hall, where William was working as a weaver. Ellen completed the Census return and describes herself as ‘wife’ but Trevor is not on the premises at the time and I have been unable to trace him in the Census.
The confusion (and irregularities) continued when he enlisted. He signed up on 9 September 1914, declaring his age as 19 years 8 months, whereas he was only 17, and his height was recorded as 5’3¼”. The recruiting officer was clearly (and perhaps wilfully) bending the rules as at the time a man had to be 18 years old and a minimum of 5’3” to be able to enlist. William weighed just 107lb (49kg – just above the absolute minimum weight standard for a boxer). He had a 34” chest, medium complexion, blueish-grey eyes and brown hair. Despite his small stature and boyish looks he was enlisted to 7 Battalion – the “Preston Pals” – and assigned to “B” Company. He gives his religion as CofE, though the newspaper article says he was a member of the United Methodist Church. William also says that he lives with his father (technically his stepfather) and now they are at 6 Lupton Terrace.
After signing up, William left with 7Bn for training in Tidworth, where he remained until July 1915. Whilst in training on 21 April 1915, he was disciplined for ‘irregular conduct on the range – viz. firing across the front’ and sentenced to 3 days’ confinement to barracks. 7Bn left for France, arriving in Boulogne on 17 July 1915. William was still only 18 and still too young to be sent abroad.
In July 1916, 7Bn had been engaged in the early phases of the Battle of the Somme but in August they were moved north to Flanders to strengthen forces there to ensure the Germans could not release troops from there to move to the Somme (like moving pawns across a chessboard). Then in October, they were moved back to Albert and La Boisselle, on the Somme, to prepare for an intended attack up the valley of the river Ancre. This never took place because after incessant rain the terrain was a morass. So 7Bn was not engaged in any fighting during October, but that didn’t mean they were safe. As the newspaper article relates, William was shot whilst repairing telephone wires. He died on 25 October 1916, aged 19. And even here there is confusion: William has no grave which means his body was not recovered, and one can only speculate as to the conditions under which he was working when he was shot such that his body could not be recovered.
William’s effects – £6 8s 3d – and his war gratuity of £9 were sent to his mother Ellen Goodburn.
Service No: 13817
Date of Death: 25/10/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 7th Bn.
Panel Reference: Pier and Face 11 A.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL