William Belfield, Private 290871, 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died 25th July 1917 in Macclesfield, aged 35
William Belfield was born at Hurdsfield in 1882. He was baptised at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church and spent the majority of his formative years living in a two bedroom terraced cottage on Daybrook Street, Hurdsfield, together with his parents, Joseph Belfield and Martha (formerly Wright) and ten brothers and sisters.
By the time of the 1901 Census, William was working as a cotton spinner.
On 10th April 1909, aged 27, he married Harriet Slater at St. Paul’s in Macclesfield, and children soon followed – the 1911 Census shows William, Harriet and their children William and Amelia, residing at 23 Green Street, Macclesfield.
On 10th August 1914 William and Harriet, now living at 207 Black Road, celebrated the birth of their fourth child, James Henry, but the storm clouds of war had already gathered over Europe, and in October William enlisted for general service. His attestation papers record that he was 30 years and 103 days old when he volunteered. He was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 118lbs. Before the war William had already received military training as a member of the local Cheshire Rifle Volunteers (5 years) and a further 2 years with the 7th Cheshire’s (Territorial Force).
On 2nd November 1914 William was posted to the newly formed 9th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment (service no. 17615) and reported to the regimental depot at Chester. He was discharged just four days later as medically unfit for further service…
William was not to be thwarted however – his service record shows that on 12th December 1914, he subsequently re-enlisted with the 7th Cheshire’s as 3040 Pte. W. Belfield. He was posted to the Battalion Reserve on 5th January and then to the 1/7th Battalion on 13th April 1915, where he joined his younger brother John Belfield.
On 17th July, the Battalion was deployed overseas, embarking at Devonport in great secrecy and eventually arriving off a shingle beach known as Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula. They landed on the 8th August 1915 and proceeded inland with vague orders to “attack the Turk”. Within a fortnight, William had been wounded in action and following treatment at No.19 General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, was evacuated to England aboard the hospital ship HMHS Braemar Castle on 23rd August 1915.
After recovering from his wounds, William was posted to the 3/7th Battalion (the Regimental Reserve), before rejoining the 1/7th Cheshire’s at Wardan, Egypt in July 1916.
Unfortunately, he soon became ill and returned to England in November 1916. He was discharged on medical grounds on 12th April 1917 and was awarded a Silver War Badge. Despite returning home to his family (now residing at 8 Hollins Road, Macclesfield), William’s health continued to deteriorate and he died on 25th July 1917. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 27 July 1917.
Private William Belfield is buried at Macclesfield Cemetery and the grave (plot ref. X.15108) is marked with a CWGC headstone.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private William Belfield, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Brother of Private Joseph Belfield, who served in France with the Royal Army Medical Corps; Private John Belfield, who served in Egypt with the Cheshire Regt and died of wounds on 5 October 1918; and Private Thomas Belfield, who served with the Shropshire Light Infantry.
Brother-in-Law of James Ernest Corke, who was killed in action on 18th October 1918.