Shore W

Lance Corporal 6359 William Shore, 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, (formerly 4876 4th Yorkshire Regiment}


Killed in action, 15th June, 1915

William Shore was born in Stokesley in 1881, the son of William Shore/Rafferty and Elizabeth Carter. 

See Shore A. for details of the  family.

William Shore, like his brother Fred, was a soldier long before the Great War began. He was already a member of the !st Volunteer Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment when he attested for the 4th Yorkshire Militia at Scarborough on 8th August 1900,and he was embodied into the 4th Yorkshire Regiment as Private 4876 Shore W on 7th September of that year. According to his attestation papers he then was aged 19 years old and he was a labourer by occupation in the employ of W Winn of Great Ayton.  

William attested for 6 years, and we have a detailed description of him as his medical report survives: he was 5’ 5 ½ “ tall, weighed only 116 lbs and his chest measurement was 31½“.  He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and a scar on the right side of his neck. His religion was noted as Church of England.

The 1901 census recorded William as ‘a soldyer on furlough’ at his parent’s home in West Row, Stokesley and ten years later the next census finds him again living with his parents, now in North Road, Stokesley. However, he gave a civilian occupation - whinstone miner - so he was by this time a reservist.

On August 4th, 1914, the day that war broke out, William Shore re-enlisted at his old regimental depot at Richmond,  going into the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (not 1st Battalion as recorded in the Book of Remembrance) with the regimental number 6359. He was sent to France in early spring of 1915, arriving on 20th. March.  We do not know when he received his promotion to Lance-Corporal, but his previous service must have made him an obvious candidate.

The 2nd Yorkshire Regiment had been attached to the 21st Brigade in the 7th Division as part of Haig's First Army, which was holding an area known as the Ypres salient, surrounded on three sides by the enemy. The 7th Division had become known as the Immortal Seventh as a result of its heroic part in fighting the Germans to a standstill at Ypres in the previous October, and preventing them from breaking out of Belgium. The prestige of Haig's force was high as a result, but allied losses had been so heavy that it was several months before the 7th could be regarded as being back to fighting strength.

Unfortunately, the position in which the British were left was far from favourable. The German positions around them occupied higher ground, looking straight down into Haig's defences. The British were also short of ammunition and of field guns. Some of the artillery they did have was very worn, lessening the effectiveness of their barrages. Munitions were diverted by Kitchener (in Whitehall) to open a new front at Gallipoli, and worse still, as the fighting continued it became clear that even the shells which Haig had at his disposal were far from reliable, frequently failing to explode in the wet ground. Nevertheless, such was the regard in which Haig's army was held by all sides that the French were anxious to have them in support of their own offensives.

This was the context in which William Shore arrived at the Front in the spring of 1915, as Haig's army was launched into a succession of costly battles. Haig was always looking for the 'breakthrough' which would leave the Allies behind enemy lines, but his attacks at that time were primarily concerned with ensuring that the Germans in front of them could not be diverted as reinforcements against the French.

In a matter of weeks, the 2nd Yorkshires went over the top on three occasions, taking very heavy casualties. There were major offensives in May aimed at pushing the Germans back and taking the higher ground around Aubers. The initial attacks had to be made across flattish land with little cover, criss-crossed by drainage ditches too deep and wide to cross easily on foot. Despite odd successes, the initial offensive (Battle of Aubers Ridge) was actually a costly failure, but a few days later the attack was resumed in what became known as the Battle of Festubert. Again there were heavy losses, though some ground was gained in an action in which the 2nd Yorkshires acquitted themselves well.

However, the advance was checked as the Germans brought in reinforcements, and the British decided to consolidate their slight gains rather than press forward against strengthened defences.

William Shore survived both these attacks, but was then killed in action, on 15th June, at the Givenchy brickyard near Vimy. The action in which he fell was essentially a renewal of the campaign described above, as an over-optimistic high command ordered their forces into the attack once more in the vain belief that the Germans were close to breaking point. Shore fell a month before his 34th birthday. He was one of seven brothers who fought in the Great War, and the first to fall of the three that gave their lives.

Lance Corporal William Shore was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star.  On the card index recording these awards he is wrongly described as Private W Shore.  He has no known grave, but is commemorated both on Panel 12 of Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais (not Bethune as in the Book of Remembrance) and in the memorial book kept in the church at Richmond – the depot of his regiment.  In both these memorials he is correctly given the rank of Lance Corporal

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