Sergeant William Hudson. 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service number 1461.
William was born in 1894 at Rastrick, near Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His birth was registered in the first quarter of that year in Huddersfield and he was the youngest of the five children or step children of Walter and Hannah Hudson.
In the 1901 census he was seven years old and living at Spring Gardens bakery at Sowerby Bridge with his parents and step sister Mary Ann, Step brother Alfred Land, Sister Evelyn and brother Joseph. Their father was a baker's carter.
By 1911 they had moved to Keighley and Walter was an iron trader on his own account. William was 17 years old and employed as an an apprentice to a textile manufacturer, fitting spinning frames. The family was living at 7, Jay Street in the 'birdcage' area of Eastwood in Keighley and by this time Mary Ann and Evelyn had married and left home.
William was an early volunteer and judging by his service number we think he enlisted very early on, perhaps September 1914, and he joined the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment at Keighley. His brother Joseph had also joined around this time. Both their names appear in 'Keighley's Gallant Sons', a record of local men who volunteered early in the war and their address is given as 7, Jay Street and it also states that they both joined the West Riding Regiment.
William would have gone into training shotrly afterwards with the regiment and was one of the men on the nominal roll for the 1/6th battalion who disembarked in France on 14th April 1915. He served with them throughout his time in the war, moving up through the ranks to Sergeant.
His brother, 1641 Pte Joseph Hudson as killed in action on 12th November 1915 when he was shot in the back whilst repairing trenches.
William himself was also killed in action, almost a year later, on 20th November 1916, which must have been a terrible shock to their family. He was just 23 years old when he died and was buried in grave 11 of row H in plot 1 of Foncquevillers Military Cemetery in France.
Keighley News 2nd December 1916. page 3:
MOTHER LOSES HER TWO SONS.
Sergeant William Hudson, West Riding Regiment, a single man aged 23 years, only surviving son of Mrs. Hannah Hudson, of Jay Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, has been killed in action by the bursting of a shell. This is the second son Mrs. Hudson has lost during the war, her elder son, Private Joseph Hudson being killed in action just twelve months ago. In civil life Sergeant Hudson was employed by Messrs. Prince Smith & Son, Keighley.
Writing to Mrs. Hudson, an officer said: "I am extremely sorry to have to tell you of the death of your son, which occurred last night at 10 pm., as a result of a shell bursting in the trench where he was standing with four other, all of whom were wounded. His death has been a great blow to all of us, for he was acknowledged to be one of the best non-commissioned officers in the battalion, always cheerful and a magnificent worker. I placed every confidence in him, knowing well that once given a job to do he would would set to work conscientiously until it was finished, no matter what difficulties he had to grapple with. He set a fine example to all with his true British grit and unfailing cheerfulness...
His last words before losing consciousness was a farewell to his pals who had been doing everything in their power to help. He was buried today in a British cemetery about half a mile behind the front line, the burial service being read over him by our own chaplain, and attended by several officers and some of his friends."
War Diary for 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment):
TRENCHES NOVEMBER 1916.
Early in the morning one of our patrols was bombed & 3 men wounded. LINCOLN LANE was T.M. about 8 am. A much better day, the sun been shining at times.
The 5th WRRgt raided the enemy's trenches on our right, zero hour 8 P.M. A number of Germans were killed, only 2 of the raiding party (5 Off & 95 O.R.) were killed. 3 men went out from our left Coy & sent up German SOS rockets from a German advanced sap & this drew most of the retaliation onto our Bn., the centre coy in ##### being heavily
bombarded by minnies(sic)
One of our patrols rear LA BRAVELLE (sic) Rd were bombed & 3 men hit.
# 1461 Sgt Hudson W. A coy killed by shell Buried by Capt Jones in Fonquevillers(sic) Cem.
5291 Pte Calvert B. A coy Wounded by shell
5631 Pte Armitage W. R. A Coy " " "
5709 Pte Haigh W. A Coy " " "
5630 Pte Vantry(sic) H. A Coy " " "
1855 Cpl Swindon H. B Coy Wounded by bomb
3057 Pt Smith F B Coy " " "
3997 Pte Glenton G. B Coy " " "
2595 Cpl Allsopp T. D Coy Killed by T.M. (trench mortar) Buried by Capt Jones in FONQUEVILLERS CEMETRY(sic)
2026 L Cpl Scott A. H. D Coy " " "
2139 L Cpl Lowndes C. D Coy " " "
1907 L Cpl Tatton J W D Coy " " "
1953 Pte Gee F. D Coy Wounded in jaw by sniper.
[Sutton man] 1759 Pte Shackleton C. D Coy wounded in forearm by shrapnel.
His mother Hannah Hudson, arranged for a personal inscription on his headstone, which reads: 'His memory is as dear today as in the hour he passed away.'
William was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service. His mother as his next of kin would been the recipient of these medals and would also have received his back pay, a war gratuity and William's memorial plaque and scroll.
Hannah also received a small pension of 15 shillings for her two sons.
William's name appears in Keighley's Great War roll of honour book which is kept on permanent display in Keighley Library.
Birth, marriage and death records.
British Army service records.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Keighley News archives, Keighley library.