DAY, William Chapman

No.17835, Private, William Chapman DAY
Aged 21

8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 14th February 1917

William Chapman Day was born in Hindringham, Norfolk on 10th June 1896 (Walsingham Q3-4B:28), son of Harry and Harriet DAY (née PUNT).

1901 census...Aged 4, he was at Marsh Barns Farm, Bishops Stortford, with his father Harry DAY [33] foreman on farm, born East Harling; his mother Harriet [35] born Brantham, Suffolk; sister Eveleyn [7] born East Harling; brother Thomas [5] born Rushford, Norfolk; brother Charlie [3] born Hindringham, Norfolk and sister Alice [1] born Bishops Stortford.

1911 census... Aged 14, ( a poultry lad), he was at Street Farm, Lidgate, with hs parents (father the farm bailiff), brother Thomas (gamekeeper); brother Charlie, sisters Alice Mary and Gertrude [9] born in Lidgate , brother Arnold [5], sister Dorothy [3] and brother Daniel [11 months]. The last four all born in Lidgate.

By the time of his death his parents had moved to Crockford's Farm, Woodditton.

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds.
From the Battalion war diary, in summary:- "The battalion had been ordered to attack point R.16.B.85. with three platoons of 'C' Coy., 2 to attack Point 85 from the SW and the 3rd to go up RAVINE about 300 yards to block any counter-attack from the East.
About 5.22 am Major Wightman reported to HQ that they were in position and a barrage started at 5.45 and the attack started. 5 minutes later a counter barrage opened up with 5.9's on GULLY. Phone lines were cut immediately and runners were sent to HQ. The situation was very obscure and 2/Lt Ackerley was wounded and about 6 of his men were seen to have reached point 85. No news from the other platoon (2nd Lt Doble), but the 3rd platoon (2/Lt Taylor) had reached and established itself in RAVINE.
A considerable number of the enemy had been seen around point 99 and BOOM RAVINE and our heavies were directed there. There was a lot of sniping and Major Wightman and the CO decided further effort in daylight was not advisable, beyond sending out a couple of small patrols to try and reach 2nd Lt Doble's platoon. These patrols were unsuccessful.
About mid day the Brigade Major arrived and said something must be done immediately, so a patrol of 8 OR and 2/Lt Whitehurst was sent up CROSS TRENCH and got within 80 yards of point 85 and established themselves there. Two more platoons were detailed to attack. one from the SW and the other up RAVINE where they could either co-operate in the attack or support the platoon there. It seems the Division had ordered point 85 to be taken by mid day, but no one had told the battalion.
The holding platoon in RAVINE attacked and seeing they looked to be successful the other platoon joined in to make certain. The attack was a complete success and the position was consolidated. post were set and all surplus men withdrawn. The missing platoon under 2/Lt Doble then turned up with 5 OR and a Lewis gun team. They had swung too far to the left and been lying in shell holes all day, they did not know where the rest of the men were. Doble was ordered to take his Lewis gun team and 5 OR to Point 85 and assist in holding it."

That seems like a good result from a shambles. Perhaps William Day was one of those missing from Doble's platoon, but we do not know for sure which platoon he was in. The 8th East Surrey's did have eight killed of which only 2 have identified graves.

William Day is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial - pier and face 6B and 6C

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