William Green was born in Witham and joined the army before the war, landing in France in August 1914. Later he went to Gallipoli where he was killed in action in August 1915 in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. His brother lived in Provident Square, off Wharf Road.
William was born in Witham c1883, the son of William Green and Mary Ann Green (nee Suckling).
His father had been born c1844 in Witham or Little Braxted. The couple had married in 1870.
William’s siblings included Emily Green (born in 1877 in Witham), Arthur Green (born in 1878 in Witham), and Selina Green (born c1881 in Witham).
The 1891 census found eight year-old William living with his father and two elder siblings in Church Street, Witham. His father was an agricultural labourer. A decade later William’s widowed father and three siblings were living at 7 Providence Square, the Wharf, Springfield, where William’s father was a labourer. He died later in 1901 and at the next census three of William’s siblings were resident at Providence Square.
William lived and enlisted at Chelmsford prior to the war, served with the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment, landing in France on 24th August 1914. He subsequently joined the regiment’s 1st battalion and served as Lance Corporal 5290.
The 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment was part of the 88th Brigade in the 29th Division and had been in Mauritius at the outbreak of the war. It returned to England in December 1914, invaded Gallipoli, Turkey on 24th April 1915 and was involved in fierce fighting over the next few weeks: between 4th June and 9th June 1915 alone the battalion lost a total of 15 officers and 200 men, and only four officers of the original 25 who had left England on 21st March 1915 were still with the battalion.
William is believed to have not participated in that initial landing in Gallipoli - instead arriving there as a reinforcement, perhaps one of a draft of five officers and 236 other ranks who joined the battalion on 10th June 1915. At that time it was in reserve at Gully Beach, before moving into the front line near Krithia on 13th June 1915. After a further stint at rest at Gully Beach the battalion returned to the trenches on 24th June 1915, moved to Fir Tree Wood three days later, and on 28th June 1915 participated in a successful advance of up to three-quarters of a mile into enemy territory.
July 1915 was a quiet time for William’s battalion, including a period of rest on the Greek island of Lemnos from the 11th. On 28th July 1915 the battalion returned to Gallipoli, initially in reserve at Gully Beach, before going into the line near Krithia, where on 6th August 1915, it launched an attack on Turkish postions. The attack was intended to be a minor action to divert attention from an imminent Allied landing to the north at Suvla Bay. A post war account on what was later known as the Battle of Krithia Vineyard reported:
“The Essex were detailed to attack the trenches H12a, H12 and trenches under construction north-east of H12 near Krithia. The artillery opened at 2.30 p.m., but was replied to by the Turks with shrapnel and high explosives on the British trench system, particularly the reserve trenches, causing many casualties, At 3.50 p.m. the Battalion advanced on two lines, two companies (Y and Z) moving in H12a from the south-west, having 200 yards to traverse before reaching the enemy’s trenches. A third (W) attacked H12 and the connection with H12a, each company finding its own supports, X Company was in reserve. The movement on H12 was at first very successful. The
Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment (formerly of the 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment)
position was taken with few casualties, but very heavy shrapnel fire was opened as the men moved forward again. With great gallantry they took the next trench (H12a), but were then held up by machine gun and rifle fire and bombs. The companies were so weak that on the Turks counter-attacking with bomb and bayonet they were driven back to H12a and its approaches, and then left to the corner of the Southern Barricade. The company on the left (W) reached the trench in continuation of the Southern Barricade and that leading north from it, but were unable to secure the continuation of the Northern Barricade. In the section between the two Barricades, serious casualties were sustained, six officers alone being killed there.
At nightfall the Battalion had secured, as a result of much desperate fighting, the corner formed by H12 and the trench connecting that point and H12a, the only means of communication with which was a small tunnel under the Southern Barricade. Part of X Company was sent forward, with details of other companies, during the night, as the position was difficult to hold on account of its being exposed on three sides to enemy fire. The order had, however, been issued that the trench was to be held at all costs, and the men did so, although suffering considerably from thirst, supplies reaching them by means of petrol tins. At daybreak on August 7th the Battalion was moved out of the line to Gully Beach, having suffered very heavy casualties - killed, 50; wounded, 202; missing, 180; a total of 432.”
Among the dead that day, 6th August 1915, was William, killed in action. He was one of 142 officers and men from the battalion who were later confirmed to have died that day, and one of three commemorated at Chelmsford. The others were Reuben Thomas William Beaumont and George Warricker.
William is has no known grave and commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
William’s brother, Arthur, was listed in the 1918 register of electors still living in Provident Square.