Info about Army Veteran (WW1)

Hi all,

Wonder if you splendid chaps can direct me to resources to try and find some into about a soldier that was killed during WW1?

The chap I'm looking for is the grandfather of a friend of mine - and he found some info on the War Graves Commission site:

Initials: W
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Durham Light Infantry
Unit Text: 15th Bn.
Age: 36
Date of Death: 25/09/1915
Service No: 19417
Additional information: Son of Patrick and Mary Boyce; husband of Isabella Boyce, of Monkwearmouth, Sunderland.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 106 and 107.

I'm happy to do the searching but haven't done anything like this before so wondered if anyone who has knowledge can direct me to various places/sites etc?

Thanks in advance guys....

On the military side your relative's story is interesting.

Mr Google is your friend here...

15th Durham Light Infantry - details from The Durham Light Infantry in 1914-1918

15th (Service) Battalion
Formed at Newcastle in September 1914 as part of K3 and became part of 64th Brigade in 21st Division. Moved to Halton Park, going on to billets in Maidenhead in December 1914 and then back to Halton Park in April 1915. Finally moved to Witley in July.
11 September 1915 : landed at Boulogne

Note the date...

His unit was in the 21st Division, one of the first formations of "Kitchener's Army" to go into battle. Their first battle was loos and the circumstances in which they were used was highly contraversial, to say the least. These were completely raw troops. GOC BEF General Sir John French did not want them to be committed to the battle of Loos. Haig, the Army Cokmander did.

They were committed a day too late and the 21st and 24th divisions ,some 24,000 infantry attacked in daylight. I think they suffered 8,000+ casualties and I have read that the German machine gunners took pity on them and stopped firing when they started to withdraw. Haig blamed French for putting the reserves too far back - and was given French's job. I am normally a revisionist, but this is one of the incidents which leads to an accusation of Butchery and Bungling - with a whiff of backstabbing and gettign the boss's job.

The dead from this attack lay in no mans land at least until mid 1917 when the Canadians captured Hill 70. I have read accounts of patrols in no mans land where the dead of Loos were used as cover. ID tags were made of cardboard and would have rotted by the time the bodies could be buried. That would explain why Boyce has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

There is a website under construction here Loos and the Reserve - 21st Division 1914-18...a divisional history

Here is a paper on the 21st Division.

Here is an account by a man from the same division wounded in the attack
First World - Memoirs & Diaries - The Battle of Loos

and another

The Battle of Loos - An Eye-witness Account of the attack on Hill 70. this one has a map so you can see where it took place.

Loos does not have the same number of memorials as the Somme. It should not be too hard to find the place where the 15th Durhams attacked.
His Medals would be The 1914-15 Star The British War Medal and The Victory Medal assuming the family claimed them and the next of kin would of recived a memorial scroll and a "death penny" the national archive website has the medal index cards available for download there is sometimes some other info on them
Ah excellent - thanks for all the initial help, and the follow ups! Great stuff.

Pteranadon, on speaking to William jnr, he did mention that his grandfather was at Loos during the "first offensive" and we had a chuckle about a Blackadder quote about squaddies "leaving the trenches and walking very slowly towards the germans" and William jnr mentioned that this had been spoken of through his family as this was around the first time they tried that type of offensive (not sure if this is true in military terms but this is what the family have spoken of over the years)....and also quite poignant with Haig trying to shift his drinks cabinet 10 metres closer to Berlin :p

Thanks again for all your help...William Jnr will be very impressed and interested in this info and I'm sure he (and I) will be following up some more....

Appreciate your efforts!


The National Archives | DocumentsOnline | Image Details

Medal card of Boyce, William
Corps Regiment No Rank
Durham Light Infantry 19417 Private
Durham Light Infantry 19417 Private
Date 1914-1920

Write to the local library where he was from as there may have been an obituary.

Get onto Genealogy, Family Trees and Family History as they offer a 14 day trial (remember to cancel before the 14 days are up) to see if there are any service record remaining. (many destroyed in WW2 bombing)
Thanks Sunray, will do.

And William Jnr sends his thanks also - he said it was a fairly sobering experience hearing and reading all of the above (especially about the soldiers not having graves, not being buried and the dead being used as cover for necessity)...


Thanks Sunray, will do.

And William Jnr sends his thanks also - he said it was a fairly sobering experience hearing and reading all of the above (especially about the soldiers not having graves, not being buried and the dead being used as cover for necessity)...


My wife is an absolute geek when it comes to all this family tree stuff, and gets excited about looking up military records...she has found William Boyce's. She is happy to save them and email them over to you? I can give you more info first if you don't want to just give some random from the internet your email address...

Edited to add some 'proof' it is the right William Boyce - he had 5 children, and a sister called Catherine...
Incoming email - much appreciated.

Edit: Thanks guys, all that info was excellent and William jnr sends his regards to all. (Was his Great Grandfather btw - I just used Grandfather as I'm a lazy bugger)....



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