R/39505 Rifleman WILLIAM HARDING.

12th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps.

who was killed in action, aged 23, on the 16th August 1917.

Born in Skelton in Cleveland and enlisted at Saltburn by Sea.

Son of Frank and Mary Harding of 25 Dixon St, Skelton, N Yorkshire.

Tyne Cot Memorial.

1901, William, aged 7, was living at 25 Dixon St and had been born in Skelton.
His father, Francis, age 41, worked in the Ironstone mines, and had been born at Hutton Le Hole, N Yorks.
His mother, Mary, age 38, had been born in Skelton. She had had 9 children and 8 were still living in 1911.
He had a brother James 15, and six sisters - Jane 13, Annie 11, Ada 9, Mary 5, Frances 3 and Lena 1
James was killed in action on the 2rd May 1917 at Arras.

1911. William, aged 17, is working as a Horseman on a Farm at West Coatham, Redcar for Robert Lawson. He lives in as a Servant.
The family are still at 25 Dixon St, Skelton.

The 12th (Service) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps was formed in Winchester on September 21st 1914 and was attached to 60th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division.
William's Medal Card shows that he was not awarded the 1914/15 Star. The date he joined his Battalion in France and any previous action not known.
At the time of William's death the Division fought in the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele. An offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces at Ypres to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south.
The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success.
The Infantry attacked on the 31st July after a 2 week Artillery bombardment, which gave the Germans warning and destroyed the drainage of what was to start with a swampy plain.
One of the wettest Summers on record then turned the battleground into pits of mud in which men and horses drowned.
The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.
The 5 mile advance over 3 months had cost 325,000 Allied casualties and a quarter of a million Germans.

William's body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, which lists 35,000 men who have no known grave and stands at the furthest point of the Western advance in Flanders before the armistice was signed.
All around the graves of the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the World.

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