Private William Moran

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Private. 2nd Battalion, Dukes of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Service no. 28780

A head and shoulders portrait newspaper photograph, of a British Army soldier in uniform. He is wearing a cap and facing the camera.

Private William Moran.

Early life:

Our first record of William Moran is the 1911 census which shows he was living at the Borough Model Lodging House at no. 12, Leeds Street in Keighley. This was a working mans home and we have a rather poor quality photograph of it.
He is one of a long list of 100 men and two staff, who were staying there on the night of the census on Sunday 2nd April or the morning of 3rd of April 1911, not having been enumerated elsewhere. This building had ten sleeping rooms, a reading room and a dining room. It would have been pretty basic living accomodation with very little privacy.
The details he gave were that he was 34 and single. this would mean his year of birth was 1876 or 1877. He was born in Kildare (Parish not known) in Ireland but he is a resident (of the UK) and is employed as a mason's labourer in the building trade.

A rather grainy image of a long building with three floors used as a lodging house. there are four men standing in front of the doorway.

The Borough Model Lodging House in Keighley.

The Irish War Memorial record states he was born in Wolfhill, Queen's County, which is about 60 miles South West of Dublin.
His father is his next of kin and his home address is Barllehree (sic) which we have not found on any map.

War service:
William attested for General Service at Keighley on 9th December 1915 under the Derby Scheme and he was placed in the reserve. He was later called up and deemed to have been enlisted on 14th August 1916 at Halifax, which would be the Wellesley Barracks on Gibbet Street, the home of the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. (These buildings and grounds are now a school.)
He gave his age of 39 years and three months which equates to a date of birth sometime in May, 1877.
His medical on 14th August 1916, states he was a 39 year old labourer, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 153 lbs wight. He had a 39 inch chest and a good pulse and he had been vaccinated in infancy.
Having passed the medical he was then enlisted into the 3rd Battalion, West Riding Regiment with the service number 3/28780 and attached to the Depot, which was at Halifax.
Wiliam was posted out with the 2nd Battalion West Riding as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 11th January 1917, when he disembarked in France on that date and joined his unit in the field on the 14th January.
William was killed in action on 3rd February 1917. He had served for one year and 57 days.

War diary. WO-95/1508/1/1. 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment.

January and February 1917:
BRAY CAMP. Camp 12D.
Jan 14: Church Parade. CE 10.30 am in Hut 11.
Jan 15: 7.15 to 7.45 - Physical Training; 8.30 to 9 - Box Respirator Drill; 9 am to 10 am - Company Drill; 10.15 to 11 am. - Musketry and Bombing; 11.15 to 12 noon - Bayonet fighting & Platoon drill; 2.30 pm - moved to Camp 12 A.
Camp 12 B.
Jan 16: 9 am to 12 - training as 15th inst. 2 pm to 4 pm, R.S.M. Parade.
Jan 17: 9 am to 12 - training as 15th inst. C.O. returned from leave.
Jan 18: Training carrying out as usual. Weather very cold, heavy fall of snow during night. 1st Brigade Boxing Tournament.
Jan 19: Training as usual. Weather very cold. 2nd #### Brigade Boxing Tournament. Regiment scores two wins and a runner up.
Jan 20: 9 am to 12 - Training carried out under Company arrangements; 2 to 4 pm, - R.S.M. Parade in afternoon. Weather very cold.
Jan 21: Church parades for all denominations. Brigade Rifle meeting. Officers competition, WO & Sgts + OR. CQMS Reid scored a possible Bn. 2nd in grand total. Capts Glenn and Cunningham, Lt's Clifton, Braine & Newroth joined the Battalion for duty. Weather still very cold.
Jan 22: 9 to 12 am - Battalion training work carried, out arm drill Platoon drills musketry & bombing. 2 to 4 pm - R.S.M. Parade in afternoon.
Jan 23: Battalion moved to billets in BRAY. Battalion left camp at 11.30 & reached billets 1.45 pm. (further details see operation orders attached.) 2nd Lt Horsley 6th Battalion joined the Battalion for duty.
Jan 24: Battalion moved to camp 18. SUZANNE. Battalion left billets at 1.30 pm & reached camp at 4.30 pm. (further details see operation orders attached.)
Jan 25: CAMP 18. Battalion in camp. Companies at disposal of O.C. Companies for inspections of feet etc. Draft of 5 other ranks joined the battalion. Weather very cold.
Jan 26th: Battalion in camp. Companies carrying out physical training & bayonet fighting etc. 2nd Lt Horsley (6 Battalion) joined the Bn for duty. Weather very cold.
Jan 27th: Battalion in camp. Training carried out under company arrangements. 2nd Lt Larcombe & Belsham joined the battalion for duty.
Jan 28th: Battalion in camp. Church parades for all denominations. Weather very cold.
Jan 29th: Battalion in camp. Usual training carried out by the battalion. Weather still very cold.
30th Jan: Battalion in camp. Training carried out as usual. Weather milder but snowing.
Jan 31st: Battalion in camp. Comapnies at disposal of O.C. Companies for inspections. Corps Commander General Du Cane presents medal ribbons to officers, NCO's and men of the Brigade at Brigade HQ SUZANNE. Captain F. H. Fraser, No. 8681 Corporal Short & No. 11301 Pte. Hird decorated.

1st Feb: Battalion in camp preparing to move up to trenches. Battalion leaves camp 1.5 pm See Operation orders no 4 attached.
1st Line transport at ##### Relief complete about 12.10 am. For dispositions see OO no 4. Company commanders no. 1 2nd Lt. Clifton; no.2 Lt. Edwards; no.3 2nd Lt. Goldsworthy; no. 4 Captain Cunningham. King's Own on our Right, Worcesters 33rd Division on our left.
2nd Feb: Battalion in the trenches. Left company gets badly shelled by enemy during day. 8 inch & 5.9 and Minenwerfer were chiefly used. No men killed or wounded but 2 men badly shaken.
3rd Feb: Battalion in the trenches. Captain Watson rejoined his comapny in the early hours of the morning and took over command. 2nd Lt. Clifton goes back to transport lines. The enemy did a raid on the right of the battalion on our left. Our left company was heavily barraged. London Avenue near front line was nearly obliterated. Casualties 4 other ranks killed, 8 other ranks wounded.

It was during this barrage that William was killed.

The Keighley News, Saturday 12th May 1917, page 3:
Information has been received that Private William Moran, West Yorkshire(sic) Regiment, who resided at 68, Leeds Street, Keighley, has been killed in the battle of Arras. A letter has been received by the secretary of the United Irish League Club, Market Street, from a companion of Moran's setting forth the circumstances of his death, and stating that he assisted in making his grave. It appears that Moran had only been a few days in the fighting line before being killed by a shell. He was well known amongst Irishmen in the town. His parents reside in Ireland.

On the 13th February 1917, a letter was sent to the Regimental Paymaster at York:
Will you please report hereon the full Christian name, address and relationship of the person, if any, drawing allotment of pay or separation allowance in respect of (No.) 28780. Private William Morin, 2/West Riding Regt. For Officer in Charge of Records at the Infantry Records Office, York.
The response from the Paymaster's office was that no separation allowance had been made.

A further sheet Army form B-104, dated 20th February 1917, states that no information was found.

Post war:

William was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service, but nobody appears to have claimed them, or his personal effects, which were his identity disc, wallet, letters and photos. This was outlined on Army Form W. 3040. (no date) The medal roll also states the medals were returned, not required.

A memo dated 1st December 1919 referred to the estate of Private Morin requesting information:

With reference to the estate of the late No. 28780, Private William Morin, 2nd Bn. West Riding Regiment, the Secretary of the War Office requested that you will be good enough to retain the effects & medals of the above mentioned soldier until the Department is able to trace the legal next of kin. The next section has been left blank.

Army Form B. 104-121. This document dated 29th March 1920, states the following:
Sir or Madam,
In continuation of the notification sent to you regarding the death of the late (N.) 28780 (Rank) Pte. William Morin of 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment.
I beg to inform you that an offical report has now been received that the late soldier is buried at Fins Cemetery. Body exhumed & reburied in Fins New British Cemetery, 10 miles South East of Bapaume.
Yours faithfully.
O. i/c No. 2 Infantry Records, York.
On this was written: 'Not sent, no trace of next of kin.'

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission concentration record sheet dated 28th January 1920, shows that William's grave amongst others, was found by 712 Labour Company at Map ref: 62c.C.20.c.9.7. and had a cross on his grave which meant they could identify him.
They moved William's grave to Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel Le Grand in France, at Map ref: 57c.V.12d.8.3. His grave is number 9 of row G, plot VII.

Finally, the Soldier's Effects record shows that whilst William had £4 6s 3d owing to him and a later war gratuity amount came to £3, but there was no next of kin to send them to.


It states that there were four men killed and eight wounded in the war diary above, but five men of the 2nd Bn West Riding Regiment were killed on the 3rd February 1917 and buried in battlefield graves. Later they were all exhumed and reburied in Fins New British Cemetery. They were:

Private John Charles Light. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). Service Number: 28761. Died 03 February 1917. Plot VII. Row G. Grave 15. (from Halifax.)

Private Allan Limb. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). Service Number: 20158. Died 03 February 1917. 24 years old. Plot VII. Row G. Grave 18. (from Halifax.)

Private Albert William Ardill. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) Service Number: 20219. Died 03 February 1917. 19 years old. Plot VII. Row G. Grave 22. (from Roscrea, Tipperary.)

Private Walter Rollin. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) Service Number: 13468. Died 03 February 1917. Plot VII. Row F. Grave 24. (from Halifax.)

Private William Morin. 2nd Bn. Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) Service Number: 28780. Died 03 February 1917. Plot VII. Row G. Grave 29. (from Keighley.)

Information sources:

1911 census
British Army World War I Service Records, 1914-1920
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Ireland, World War I Casualties, 1914-1922
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
National Archives.
WO-95/1508/1/1. 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment.
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
Keighley and District Local Hisory Society Flickr archive.

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