123009, Private, William Edward RANNER
Aged 20

58th Company (Infantry) Machine Gun Corps
(enlisted as No.9652, Suffolk Regiment)
Killed in Action on Tuesday 12th March 1918

Born in Cheveley on 9th November 1898 [Newmarket 3b:491] and baptised in Cheveley on 18th December 1898, son of Thomas and Laura Elizabeth RANNER (née TILBROOKE) of Dover Cottages, Cheveley, Cambs.

1901 census...William E. [2] was at Dover Cottages, Cheveley with his father Thomas [35], a postman (previously gardener), born Cheveley; his mother Laura E. [25] born Cowlinge; brother Ernest J. [4] and sister Blanche [6 months]. All three children were born in Cheveley.
His father died in 1907.

1911 census...William [12] was at The Street, Cheveley with his widowed mother, brother Ernest ( a post office messenger) and sister Blanche, plus 3 more siblings, Alice [8], James [6] and Thomas [4], all born in Cheveley.

His mother was later living at 3 Ruses Cottages, Exning Road, Newmarket, her eldest two sons having been killed in war.

His elder brother Ernest was killed in 1915.. see here

William, according to the Press at the time, enlisted in early September 1915, a few weeks before the death of his elder brother.

This period was somewhat of the lull before the storm. The British Army had undergone a drastic reorganisation, largely due to the fact that reinforcements were being withheld in England. Whereas a British infantry division had once consisted of twelve battalions, it was now reduced to nine – three to each Brigade (as opposed to four). Given that some battalions, due to battle losses and sickness during the cold winter months, were down to below 500 men, the whole idea of defence in depth was now lost. With British intelligence sure that a German offensive was coming, this was the situation General Sir Hubert Gough’s Fifth Army found itself in by mid-March 1918. The German attack came on the morning of 21st March 1918. Within the week the Germans had captured over 50,000 British soldiers

Being Machine Gun Corps, it hard to be sure where William was when he was killed, especially as he has no identified grave. However the war diary of the 58th does refer to the advanced HQ at Carrieres Bernagousse being destroyed on the 12th March when a nearby French ammunition dump exploded killing two men of B Company whose bodies were recovered on 16th. It appears that their graves were lost in later fighting since Ernest and his chum Albert French are named on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval

No known grave - William is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France- Ref:pier and face 5C and 12C

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