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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916


CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916


Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916


Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916


Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 15962 William Francis Caldicott


  • Age: 28
  • From: Wolverhampton
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 17th Btn
  • K.I.A Monday 10th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.

William (Billy) Francis Caldicott was born in 1888 at Bilston, Staffordshire, the son of William Byers Caldicott (1855-1929), an Iron and Steel Worker, and his wife Lucy(nee Partridge) (1856-1922). His parents married 1883. He had an older sister, Esther, and a younger brother, John Henry, who was born in 1893.

In 1891 the family were living at 98 John Street, Bilston, Staffs.

Billy's father, William, is aged 36 and an iron worker born in Newport, Monmouth, his mother Lucy is aged 30 born in Droitwich. Thye have two chikldren in the household; Esther 6 born in Ettingshall, and William aged 2 also recorded as born in Ettingshall. Also present is Lucy's widowed mother Mary Ann Tredwell  aged 59 and born in Droitwich. 

By 1901 the family have moved and were living at 9 George Street, Bilston. His father, William, is now aged 45 and is employed as an ironworks timekeeper, his mother, Lucy, is 38. They have three children in the household, all of whom were born in Bilston; Esther 16, William Francis 12, John Henry 8. Also present again is Lucy's widowed mother Mary Ann Tredwell 69 b.Droitwich. 

In 1911 the family have moved to Ellesmere Port and were living at 69 Heathfield Road, Ellesmere Port. His father, William, is aged 55 and a labourer, his mother, Lucy, is aged 50. They advised that they had been married for 28 years and had 4 children, 3 of whom have survived. They have two children declared in the household; William aged 22 and John 18 are both sheet mill workers.

On 01st September 1914, both William and John Henry enlisted in the 17th Battalion, KLR, and were given consecutive numbers - 15962 and 15963 respectively.  Billy's attestation papers show that he advised that he was born in Wolverhampton, was aged 26 years and 7 months, and was an engineer. He was described as being 5' 10" tall, weight 153lbs with a 38" chest. He had a sallow complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He stated his religion as C. of E.  and gave his father William Caldicott, of 16 Briarfield Rd, Ellesmere Port as his next of kin. 

They were billeted at Prescot Watch Factory from 14th September 1914, they trained there and also at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 17th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. 

On 07th November 1915 they sailed together as part of 89th Brigade of 30th Division for France. Whilst in France Billy wrote to his father

Dear Dad,  

I know you will not blame me and Jack for the stand we have made in the endeavour to do what fell strongly to be our duty.  I know it would have been nice to have us both home again, but Dad,  the honest truth is I know I could not be happy as a munition worker after training thirteen months to be a good soldier. 

I and Jack joined knowing that sooner or later we should be called upon to make a great sacrifice for our King and country and for the life of me I can’t help thinking that by backing out now we should not be playing the man.    Dear Dad, whatever happens now no one can say that either Jack or Will Caldicott did not act up to what I hope they have always been – ‘sportsmen’.  As you used to say, ‘chips off the old block’.  

Your son, 

Billy

He was one of the many who were killed on 10th  - 12th July at Trones Wood.  

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916. 

The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II: 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,  the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

Following the death of Billy his parents received the following letter;

War Office
BFPO
London
14 July 1916 

Dear Mr and Mrs Caldicott,  

I am very sorry to have to write to you to inform you that your son, Private William Caldicott was killed on the afternoon of the 12th July, being shot through the heart.  He was away from the company at the time, helping to carry a stretcher with a wounded man on it down to the dressing station and no one in the company knew what had happened to him until the following day, when the man who had been with him reported in.  He was a very gallant man and died a gallant death in getting a wounded comrade out of the danger zone.  He was one of the most popular men in the company, being liked by everyone, and was always ready to do work, no matter how hard or how risky.  I feel his loss very much.  He was my orderly the night before he was killed, and we had many narrow escapes, yet he always passed them off with a laugh, and then to think of his being sniped by a Boche while carrying a stretcher makes one’s blood boil and there is not much hope for the next Germans we meet.  They’ll pay for it.

I hope you take comfort in the bravery and care for others he showed when he was killed. 

I remain your servant, 

Captain Binnion

17th Battalion, 

The King's (Liverpool Regiment).


His death was reported in the local press:

‘ Sniped whilst carrying stretcher, Ellesmere Part man’s end.’ 

Pte William Caldicott who was killed on the 12th july, was the son of Mr & Mrs William Caldicott of 16 Brierfield Road, Ellesmere Port. He was ‘sniped’ whilst carrying a stretcher being shot through the heart. His brother Jack has been wounded, both men were ironworkers and could have gone on munitions or other skilled work but preferred to ‘ play the man’ as the deceased put in a letter home.

Also in July 1916, the following article appeared in the Cheshire Courant;

Parting of Two Brothers

One Killed and the Other Wounded

A sad case has come to light in Ellesmere Port in connection with the sons of Mrs Caldicott, of 16 Briarfield Road, Ellesmere Port.  One son Private Jack Caldicott, is lying wounded in a Sheffield hospital.  He was carried into the dressing station by his brother, Private William Caldicott and shortly afterwards the latter was killed in action.  He would have been 28 years of age this month and the son at Sheffield is twenty three. The hero who lost his life was employed by Messrs Summers of Shotton and Private Jack Caldicott at the Mersey Ironworks,  Ellesmere Port.  They had joined the Army together, and had been together the whole time, and it is a very great blow to Mrs Caldicott to find that the first time they have been parted one has lost his life. 

Billy's body was not recovered from the battlefield or was subsequently lost as his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. 

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. 

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

After the death of his brother William, Jack Caldicott wrote to the Ellesmere Port branch of the Soldiers Comfort Fund;

Somewhere in France CENSORED

20th July 1916 

To: the members of the Soldiers Comforts Fund, Ellesmere Port, 

I hardly know how to thank you for your kind letter and expressions of sympathy.  Hearing of my brother’s death was the bitterest blow I have ever received in my life,  for we were very much attached to each other, and I admired him as everyone did, and respected him for his grand, brave and generous nature and I assure you the past months do show the best or otherwise in a man.  We have been side by side at the Front for nine months,  and had both refused promotion for fear we may have been parted, and almost the last action of my brother was to carry me from CENSORED Wood to the dressing station, and I wished him God-speed and left him looking for stretcher-bearers to take back to the helpless wounded in the wood which we were clinging to, when I was hit and my brother killed on the same day. 

 I shall cherish his memory and miss him as long as I live,  and I am proud of him, for I know he died with his face to the enemy and doing his duty, and I know that is as he wished.  

I am pleased to say I am mending nicely, but the shrapnel which went through my thigh has broken some nerves  and I find it difficult to brace my muscles yet,  but I think my leg will get stronger soon. I should like to thank all of you and show my appreciation of the splendid work the committee and yourself are doing:  it both cheers one and gives encouragement, which is a great help these days, and I know you have the thanks of every employee who is serving the Colours.  

Wishing the committee and yourself the best of health and success, and again thanking you,  

Yours sincerely,

J.H. Caldicott 

For Jack's story please visit his own page.

William and Jack are both commemorated on the Christ Church, Ellesmere Port Memorial

Soldiers Effects to father William, the pensions of both William Francis and John Henry to mother Lucy.

Their mother died in 1922 aged 64 and their father in 1929 aged 74. 

We currently have no further information on William Francis Caldicott, If you have or know someone who may be able to add to the history of this soldier, please contact us.



Grateful thanks are extended to Mike Royden for his permission to use his research in this biography visit www.roydenhistory.co.uk  

 

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