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William Baird


G/31171 Private

1st Battalion, Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), 13th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division

Age: 18

Date of Death: Killed in Action 28.6.18

Buried: (Royal) Berkshire Corner Memorial Panel 8

Family history: Son of Helen Baird, 29 Leigh Road, Leyton, London & of the late John Baird. His father was an engineer who lived in Glasgow when William was born in 1899 in Helensburgh. His mother was a teacher who lived originally in Westpark, Larbert. Interestingly, his mother returned to Larbert after the war and married the Head teacher of Larbert Village School. His first wife had been Helen’s sister. William was resident in Leyton in London when he enlisted.

The action leading to his death

The Battalion was not actually in what is the Ypres Salient when the action leading to William’s death occurred. They were in the Merville/Bethune area, to the south of the Salient. As his name is listed on the (Royal) Berkshire Corner Memorial, located opposite the Hyde Park Corner Cemetery, the Memorial dominates the other cemetery opposite, I have included him here. The Memorial has become to be known as the ‘Ploegsteert Memorial’ and records the names of 11.447 missing from the Battles of Armentieres in 1914, Aubers Ridge, Loos, Fromelles in 1915, Estaires in 1916, Hazebrouck, Scherpenberg and Outersteene Ridge in 1918. As the action leading to William’s death is not strictly within the Salient I have not dealt with it in too much detail.

The Battalion was involved in a minor attack lasting no more than fifteen minutes at the Plate Becque River. At 6am on the morning of 28 June they advanced under the cover of an artillery barrage with ‘C’ Company advancing through the German front lines and meeting no resistance until they reached the German machine gun posts when hand to hand fighting took place. As this was happening ‘B’ Company, on the left of the attack, had taken the German front line but had suffered heavy casualties. ‘A’ Company in reserve had come across twelve or more Germans wearing Red cross armlets and who had been throwing hand bombs into the rear of the advance. They were all bayonetted. Overall the attack had been a complete success capturing some 6,000 yards of front line, 500 prisoners and 30 machine guns.

Medals Awarded

British War Medal, Victory Medal

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