Private William Alfred WINCH


Regiment/Service:
Canadian Infantry
(Manitoba Regiment)
Unit:
8th Battalion
Service Number:
552326
Date of Death:
2 September 1918 - Died of wounds
Age:
31
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
III. E. 22.



Personal History:

William was born on the 7th July 1888 at  21 York Road, East Ham, London, (1901 Census RG 12/1339)  the son of Alfred Arthur (General Labourer) and Elizabeth Phoebe (née Pawley) Winch.
He had an older sister, Harriett Anne P., an older brothers, Francis J., and a younger sister, Elsie E. (1901 Census RG 13/1601) At that time the family was living at 173 Central Avenue, East Ham, London. It is not clear what the family's link to Buxton was, but "The Buxton Advertiser" of the 19th October 1918 stated that: "He leaves numerous friends in this town ...".

The family had all emigrated to Canada in 1906, sailing from Liverpool to Montreal on board the 'Southwark', and arrived on the 6th May 1906. The Canadian Census of 1911 had them living in Winnipeg, so William must have formed these friendships whilst on the Staff of the Canadian Discharge Depot, based at the Empire Hotel. [see below]

On the 29th August 1914 William married Janet Gilchrist Barbour at West Kildonan, a suburb of Winnipeg, Manitoba. They lived at 273 Semple Avenue, Manitoba. At the time of his enlistment William gave his occupation as "Automobile Mechanic". At that time (February 1916) he gave his age as "27 years, 7 mths" and had a 'dark' complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was 5 ft. 9¼ ins. (1.76 m.) tall. "The Buxton Advertiser" also reported that: "He leaves .... a wife and little daughter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to mourn his loss ...".

Military History:
William enlisted into the Canadian Army in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on the 28th February 1916. "The
Buxton Advertiser" of the 19th October 1918, when reporting his death, stated that "Pte. Winch
went to France in April [1918] and died of wounds in that country on October 3rd 1918." "The Buxton
Advertiser" also reported that William "... was for some time on the Staff at the Canadian Discharge
Depot." This was based at the Empire Hotel - see right.

The Battalion had initially embarked at Quebec on the 1st October 1914 aboard the "Franconia",
disembarking in England on the 14th October. Its strength was 47 officers and 1106 other ranks.
The Battalion landed in France on the 13th February 1915, becoming part of the 1st Canadian
Division, 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade.

After William joined his Battalion in April 1918 his Division was engaged in actions during the German offensive in Flanders - Operation 'Georgette' - the Battles of the Lys, 9th - 29th April 1918. Later in the year the Division fought in The Battle of Amiens, 8th - 11th August, followed by The Battle of the Scarpe, 26th - 30th August (a phase of the Second Battles of Arras 1918).

From the description in "The Buxton Advertiser" it is not obvious where William was at the time he received the wounds from which he subsequently lost his life. He now lies in Ligny-St. Flochel Cemetery. The cemetery was started at the beginning of April 1918 when the 7th Casualty Clearing Station came back from Tincques ahead of the German advance. At the end of May the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station arrived from Aire and in August, No.1 Casualty Clearing Station from Pernes. It was in one of these hospitals that he passed away.

CWGC Records show that William was one of 24 men of the 8th Battalion to be killed or died in the first three days of September 1918. The War Diary shows that on the 1st the Battalion was in reserve behind the 10th Canadian Infantry, but plans changed and at 7.40 a.m. began to move forward from the front line along the Drocourt-Quéant line. "The Bosche artillery was very erratic all this time and enemy machine gun fire had been negligible insofar as we were concerned, but about this time the enemy machine guns from the left began to make the battalion consider them more seriously."

It went on: "Lieutenant Apperson ...... by good use of his Lewis guns, affected the capture of 46 Germans. The German Officer here did not want to surrender, but his men, thinking otherwise, killed their Officer and threw up their hands." Later in the day the same Lieutenant lost half his platoon to shellfire - maybe William was one of those.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 19 October 1918
· The Canadian Great War Project
· CEF Burial Registers, 649-P-8224
· Canadian Passenger Lists, Roll: T- 486
· 1906 Census of Canada - Place: 6E, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Page: 16; Family No: 150.
· 1911 Census of Canada Record - Winnipeg, Selkirk, Manitoba; Page: 32; Family No: 334.)

Link to CWGC Record
William Winch's grave
Pt William Winch
poppy
Canadian Discharge Depot, Buxton