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William Stevenson MC

Birth

William Stevenson was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire on May 20, 1879 to Joseph and Mary Stevenson. He was baptised on June 15. Joseph worked in the colliery with many other men of that area. Mary originated from Derry, in Ireland. The couple had seven children and lived at 9 Mill Street, in Ashton.

Early Life

In the 1891 Census, the family were still living at 9 Mill Street. Joseph was now a Check Weighman at the local colliery. In 1901, William was living with his family at 105 Heath Road, in Ashton-in-Makerfield. He had an elder brother, called James (aged 35), a widower with a young daughter (aged three), and an older sister, called Catherine (aged 24). There were also four younger brothers and a younger sister.

Chester College

After leaving Chester College in 1900, William joined the ranks of the teaching profession and began his career at Fairfield Boys’ School in Liverpool. By 1911, he was Headteacher at St. James’ Church of England School, in Haydock, Lancashire. He married Elizabeth Ellen (Nellie) (née Hart) August 4, 1908 and they were living at 39 Harvey Lane, in Golborne, near Wigan, with their son, Arthur Cecil. They later had a daughter, Mary, known as Molly. They later moved to Wicken Cottage, Penny Lane, in Haydock, Lancashire. William trained as a Teacher under Mr. A. Molyneux, Headmaster of St. Thomas’ School, in Ashton. He taught at St. Thomas’ and later became Headmaster of the Parkside Council School, Golborne and later the Church of England School, in Haydock, Lancashire. William was a well-known concert singer and a member of the Ashton Lodge of Freemasons. He was also a licensed Lay Reader officiating at Golborne and Haydock churches.

Military Service

William joined the Royal Garrison Artillery Regiment 147th Heavy Battery Unit as a Corporal on June 13, 1916 and went to France on November 20. Heavy Battery Units were equipped with heavy guns, sending large calibre high explosive shells in fairly flat trajectory fire. The usual armaments were 60 pounder (5 inch) guns, although some had obsolescent 5-inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Heavy Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. William rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant, and served in France and Belgium for all of his time there. He was mentioned in Sir D Haig’s dispatch for gallantry and distinguished service, and was awarded the Military Cross.

Lest We Forget

William was killed in action on September 18, 1918, just less than two months before the war ended. He was 39 years old, and left a wife and two young children.

Post Mortem

William was awarded the British War and Victory Medals for his service to the King and country. He is remembered with honour at Cagnicourt British Cemetery, in France.