William Bedford

Born: 1870
Died: 8.10.1915
Service number: 19383
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Rachel Bedford of Alverthorpe

War Service

In answer to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms, William Bedford, aged 44, enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He joined the 9th (Service) Battalion which was formed in September, by drafts of men sent from Pontefract to Berkhamstead.  Along with the 10th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the battalion was designated part of 64th Infantry Brigade, 21st Division.  The 9th KOYLI was based in billets at Maidenhead during the winter months, before moving to Halton Park, Tring, in April 1915. In August 1915, the battalion was inspected by H.M. the King, at Windsor.

On 11 September the 64th Infantry Brigade sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne, to join the British Expeditionary Force, on the western front. On their arrival in France, the 9th KOYLI was initially billeted at Nielles les Ardres, but then during successive nights, marched to Mazingarbe, 3 miles west of Loos.

The Battle of Loos began on the 25 September and immediately on arrival in the battle area the 9th Battalion, in Brigade, was moving to support the 63rd Brigade, in the direction of Hill 70. At 02.00 hrs. on the 26 September, the German front trench system was crossed but the 64th Brigade was ordered to remain in this trench, in Divisional reserve. However, as the enemy pushed the attackers back from Hill 70, the trenches occupied by the Brigade became involved in the fighting.

During the afternoon, amid some confusion, the 9th KOYLI moved forward without official orders and advanced to counter-attack the enemy towards the Loos-Hulloch road. They were closely followed by the 10th KOYLI. The attackers started up the hill, but were cut down from the flanks by machine-gun and shrapnel fire.  Both KOYLI battalions had to withdraw to their original line, the 9th KOYLI having incurred 216 casualties during this action.

Private William Bedford was seriously wounded and taken to one of the hospitals at St Omer. At this time, St Omer was the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force and a major hospital centre, with Stationary Hospitals, General Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations. 

Unfortunately, William Bedford died from his wounds, on 8 October 1915 and was buried in the Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. The Commonwealth section of Longuenesse Cemetery has 2874 burials from the First World War, of which 6 are unidentified. 

Family Life

During the war, there were several men of military age, named William Bedford, living in Outwood and the surrounding district.  However, this casualty is believed to be the brother of Agnes Hartley, wife of Sam Hartley, brickmaker, of Ledger Lane, Outwood.

William Bedford was born in 1870, the youngest son of William Bedford and his wife, Rachel, formerly Coop, of Alverthorpe, Wakefield.  His father, William Bedford snr. was employed as a coal miner, but suffered from asthma and died soon after the birth of his son. William and his siblings continued to live with their widowed mother, at Flanshaw Lane, Alverthorpe.

In 1888, his sister Agnes married Sam Hartley, a brick maker and went to live at Ledger Lane, Outwood.  However, William, who was working as a general labourer, continued to live with his mother in Alverthorpe   

On 4 August 1914, when war with Germany was declared, William was employed as a bricklayer’s labourer. 

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