Killed in action
Regiment: The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Battalion: 8th Battalion
Service Number: G/1752
Date of Death: 26th September 1915
Age when killed: 26
Cemetery: Loos Memorial (Panel 15 to 19)
Born: Spittlegate, Grantham 1889
Next of kin: Mother, Sarah Eldred of Chapel Lane Hoby
Brother: Richard Eldred of Chapel Lane Hoby
Wife: Evaline S Eldred of Euston London
William was born in 1889 in Grantham to Thomas and Sarah Eldred. By 1911 William’s older brother Robert and their widowed mother Sarah were living in Chapel Lane Hoby. Robert worked on the railways, presumably at Brooksby.
William joined the 8th Battalion the East Kent Regiment, also known as The Buffs, at St Pancras, London and went to France on 31st August 1915. In late September 1915 the Buffs fought in the Battle of Loos. The attack involving six divisions started on 25th September 1915 and was referred to at the time as “The Big Push”. Despite heavy casualties, there was considerable success on the first day in breaking into the deep enemy positions near Loos and Hulluch. The reserves had been held too far from the battle front to be able to exploit the successes. In succeeding days the battle bogged down into attritional warfare for minor gains.
The Buffs trench diary for 25th September records that their commanding officer said the following words Men I am not going to say very much to you this morning only to ask you to remember that you are the Buffs. They moved forward to attack the village of Verdin Le Vieil but in the early hours of the 26th September as they came under heavy artillery fire and withdrew to spend a cold and uncomfortable night in
the trenches, disturbed by sniper fire. At 11am on 26th September, the battalion was ordered to move forward again to attack across open country, the objective being a German position about a mile away. Before they left the trenches they came under heavy bombardment and once out in the open the sniper fire and machine gun fire continued. By 11.30am the leading lines of the Buffs had advanced to within 25 yards of the German barbed wire but no gap could be seen in the wire entanglements and they could get no further. At 11.55am they received the order to withdraw. As they withdrew they continued to come under heavy fire. On 26th September the battalion lost 12 officers and 165 other ranks including William.
William left a widow, Evaline and is commemorated on the Loos memorial
which commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave and who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay.
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.