Walter Woolliscroft, Private 33205, 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Killed in action 27th September 1918 in France, aged 37
Walter Woolliscroft (or Wooliscroft) was born on 6th March 1881 in Macclesfield, the son of Mary and William Woolliscroft, a coal merchant of Macclesfield. In the 1881 census, taken on 3rd April, one-month-old Walter was living at 50 Byrons Lane, Sutton with his parents and siblings Mary (11), William (11), Solomon (8), Ada (6), Fred (4) and Harriet (1).
By 1891, the family had moved to 22 High Street, Sutton, south Macclesfield and included another child, Nellie, aged 5.
Walter was educated at St George’s School, Sutton, and on 26th February 1894, just before his 13th birthday, he transferred from the primary department to the ‘Boys and Girls Mixed’ department.
Walter’s father died in 1906, and his mother died in 1912.
In 1911 Walter was employed as a driver for the Manchester Evening News and lodging with his married sister, Mary Peasnell and her family at 53 Ashmore St, West Gorton, Manchester. Later that year he married Sarah Ann Piggott at St Clements Church, Broughton, Manchester. The couple settled in Higher Broughton, Manchester and had two children: Bertha, born in October 1912, and Walter Frederick, born in November 1914.
Walter later found work with the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Manchester.
In late 1919, more than a year after Walter’s death, Sarah married Albert Ankers at St Clements Church, Broughton.
Walter enlisted in Macclesfield with the 16th Lancers (service number 5000) and was drafted to France on 8th October 1914. To have been sent abroad so soon after the start of the war, it is likely that he previously served with that regiment, perhaps during the South African wars, and would have been recalled on the outbreak of the war.
In September 1914 the 16th Lancers joined the 3rd and 6th Cavalry Brigades and other units to form the 2nd Cavalry Division. Walter would have seen action in many major battles including Armentieres, the 1st and 2nd battles of Ypres and the battle of Neuve Chapelle.
Walter was transferred to the 15th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 7 September 1916. At that time, the Battalion came under the command of the 13th Brigade in the 5th Division. They moved to Italy with the Division in November 1917 but returned to France in April 1918.
On 23rd September 1918 the Battalion was at Haplincourt, south-west of Cambrai in northern France; A company practised on the firing range and all men were able to bathe. The following day B company was on the firing range and the other companies carried out training exercises. On the 25th, the Battalion practised an attack over a taped course during the morning, and then received orders to relieve the 1st Devonshire Regt in the front line that evening. This was carried out between 6.30pm and 11.30pm.
At 7.50am on the 27th September the Battalion carried out an attack, with A company in the centre, B company on the right, C company on the left and D company in reserve. They gained their objective, but were obliged to retire (the war diary does not give the reason for this). Casualties as a result of this action were: Officers – 3 killed, 5 wounded; other ranks – 36 killed, 90 wounded, 29 missing. Private Walter Woolliscroft was one of the men killed on that day.
Private Walter Woolliscroft is buried in Grave Ref. C. 34. at Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery near Belincourt, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Walter Woolliscroft.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated (as W Williscroft) on the Manchester Co-operative Wholesale Society and the Co-operative Wholesale Society Buildings and Shopfittings Dept (Lower Broughton, Salford) war memorials.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
UKBMD websites: Lancashire marriage index
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: Sutton St George’s School
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
WW1 War Diaries (France, Belgium, Germany), 1914-1920: Royal Warwicks Regt
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website