William Wrigley, Private 35287, 13th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 21st October 1916 in the Somme, France, aged 21
William Wrigley was born in Macclesfield in 1895, the son of Mary Ann and Henry Wrigley, a boot lace maker of 34 Heapy Street.
In 1911, at the age of 15, William was living at the same address with his parents, younger brothers Harry and Sam, and cousin Mary Jane Wrigley, and was employed as a plumbers apprentice.
When William enlisted in Macclesfield on 29th January 1916 he was working as a domestic plumber; his employer, Albert E. Brees of 111 Mill Street, Macclesfield, provided the following reference:
“William Wrigley has been in my employ for the past seven years as an apprenticed sanitary plumber, during which time he has proved himself a most industrious and efficient workman.”
William’s medical examination took place at Macclesfield Town Hall, where he was found to be 5 feet 9¼ inches tall, weighing 129 pounds with a 33½ inch chest measurement, and had grey eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion.
William was mobilized on 17th February 1916 and after training, embarked for the Cheshire’s Depot in France on 4th July 1916, joining the 13th Battalion in the Field on 18th July.
Private Wrigley was killed in action on 21st October 1916; his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 17 August 1917:
DERBY RECRUIT’S DEATH: OFFICIAL NEWS OF PTE W WRIGLEY – Mr and Mrs Henry Wrigley, 34 Heapy St, Macclesfield, have this week received the sorrowful intelligence that their eldest son, Private William Wrigley, Cheshire Regt, who had been missing in France since October 21st last, is now presumed to have died in action. Twenty-three years of age, and a native of the town, the deceased soldier was among the first batch of Derby recruits to leave Macclesfield, being called up in February 1916. He had then just completed his apprenticeship as a plumber with Mr A E Brees, Mill Street. Trained at Bidston, Birkenhead, Private Wrigley was drafted to France in June 1916, and the last communication received from him was dated October 18th, 1916, three days before he was reported missing. He was then in the trenches, from which he wrote a card to his parents. The private received his education at St Peter’s School and attended the Church and Sunday School, being a member of the Bible Class. He was also connected with the St Peter’s Institute and had acquired some local notoriety as a billiard player.
Mr and Mrs Wrigley have a younger son in the Army. His name is Harry, and he is a private in the local Territorials, in which he enlisted shortly after the outbreak of the war. he accompanied the battalion to Suvla Bay and took part in the Dardanelles campaign, subsequently transferring to Egypt on the evacuation. Private H Wrigley, who in civil life was an employee of Mr J McLerie at the slipper factory, fought at Gaza and came through the ordeal unhurt.
Private William Wrigley has no known grave and he is named on Pier and Face 3C and 4A of the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Wrigley.