2nd Lt. William Strong

William Strong, the son of Samuel and Margaret Hannah Strong, was born at Eppleby, Yorkshire (Service Record – Brough Park, Catterick) on 27th December 1893 (POW Records 1894). He had an elder sister Rose Annie, born 1893, who in 1911 was a schoolteacher, and there was also a child that had died.  He was educated at the Catterick Endowed School before becoming, like his father, a gardener.  The family lived at Brough Park, Catterick. (Find My Past)

William enlisted in the 2/4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, on 9th August 1914 and rose to the rank of Sergeant before commissioning into the 15th Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment, (1st Leeds Pals), on 28th April 1917. He deployed to France on 21st May 1917.

William Strong, who was serving with B Company, 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment during the great advance by the Germans in the spring of 1918, was wounded and captured at Ervillers on 27th March 1918.  From 23rd to 30th March 1918 Leeds Pals were part of the 93rd Infantry Brigade withdrawal.  They withdrew from the original front line near to St Leger back to Hamelincourt, then down to Courcelles and back to Ayette where they were finally over-run on 27th March.  Sergeant Albert Mountain won the VC fighting off the German attack, but ultimately only four officers and about forty men managed to get away.  The rest, including William, were taken prisoner.  He was held at Cassel, arriving there on 12th July, before moving to Rastatt, then on 22nd August to Dänholm Straslund. (grandeguerre.icrc.org)

‘The officers’ Lager at Straslund lay on an island, or rather on a twin pair of islands, called Greater and Smaller Dänholm, separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of water over which a permanent ferry plied to and fro.  On the farther side of these islands and separated from them again by a wider channel, perhaps two-thirds of the width of the Solent at its narrowest point, lay the pleasant shores of Rügen.  The blue sea and the wooded slopes of this fair island recalled to the home sick prisoner the beauties of her smaller sister of the Wight.’

From ‘Escape at the First Attempt’ by H.G.Durnford

He was finally repatriated on 4th December 1918, arriving home at West Lodge, Grindon, Sunderland on 30th December, at that point his father’s home.

An investigation in 1919 by the War Office Standing Committee of Enquiry, led by Maj.Gen L E A Price-Davies VC CMG DSO, into the capture of Officers concluded that William Strong was not to blame for his capture. In his statement to the committee William said that he was wounded in the right thigh by machinegun fire at about 1pm and as it was too dangerous to get back to his lines he remained where he was and was eventually taken prisoner by the enemy who captured the battalion’s positions at about 4pm on 27th March 1918.

He was released from the Army to the Reserve on 10th April 1919 but applied to re-join in July to serve in the Armies of Occupation, though his request was rejected.  His reason for wanting to re-join was that since his discharge he had had ‘no offer of employment and had no prospect of obtaining one’.  His commission, Lieutenant, was relinquished on 1st September 1921 and he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service. (Ancestry)

Researchers: Peter Taylor and David J Owen

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  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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