STARLING, William Herbert

No.26645, Private, William Herbert STARLING
Aged 41

12th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 22nd January 1917

William Herbert Starling was born in Cowlinge (Risbridge Q4-1876 4A:471), son of George and Elizabeth STARLING (née RANSOME).

1881 census...Aged 4, he was at Ponud Green, Cowlinge with his father George STARLING [28] farm labourer; his mother Elizabeth [23]; sisters Mary Ann [6], Jane [3] and Maud [1] and grandfather, widower James RANSOME [60] farm labourer. All were born in Cowlinge.

1891 census...Aged 14, a farm labourer, he was still at Pound Green, Cowlinge with his parents, sisters Jane, Maud, Annie [9] Rose Ann [4] and Lily [2] and brother Thomas [7]. The new siblings all born in Cowlinge.

1901 census...Aged 24, a farm labourer, he was at Mill Road, Cowlinge with his parents, brothers Thomas (letter carrier), George [6] and Robert [1]; sisters Lily and Alice [8]. The new siblings born in Cowlinge.

1911 census... Aged 34, a farm labourer, he was at Mill Road, Cowlinge with his parents; brothers Thomas (rural postman), George (farm labourer) and Robert; sisters Jane and niece Edith [5] born Cowlinge (no parentage recorded). His mother had lost one of her 12 children.

He enlisted in Haverhill, serving less than one year.
According to Lt Col Murphy's "History of the Suffolk Regiment" :- On December 31st 1916 the battalion moved up into the line, taking over a sector in a slough at Bouchavesnes (just north of Peronne). The trenches were indescribably bad, with no dug-outs and no drainage, and remained literally thigh deep in liquid mud throughout the tour of duty (4 days).

They moved next to reserve in Camps 23 and 17 before going into line at Rancourt on 13th. They had a quiet time until 22nd when relieved. Their losses were the result of shelling. CWGC records show William was one of only three of the 12th Suffolk killed that day, his two chums being buried in Rancourt.

An anomaly is that the Burial Return card of CWGC shows William being found near Rancourt as shown below, his grave marked by a British Memorial Cross not many yards from Rancourt Military Cemetery and re buried in Combles 3 miles further west, and yet he is named on the Thiepval Memorial. Apparently not a rare occurrence, a battlefield recovery party would have found a marked cross, but failed to find human remains in that particular spot, in which case the cross would be placed in a nearby cemetery but the casualty actually commemorated on the appropriate memorial, in this case Thiepval's Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

William Starling is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and face 1C/2A

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details