William Claypole

Name William Claypole
Corps Northamptonshire Regiment, 6th Battalion
Rank Private
Service No. 20553
Date/Place of entry Cottingham
Death 15 November 1917 aged 29 Died of wounds
Memorial/ Grave XIII C 16 Dozinghem Military Cemetery

William Claypole was born in 1888, the third son of John Claypole and his wife Mary Ann nee Tansley. John and Mary lived in Blind Lane in 1901, close to Pinfold Bank where their neighbours included James Tansley and his grandson James William Tansley, later of the Leicestershire regiment. William’s younger brother Stephen Tansley Claypole and his cousins David Tansley and Lovel Tansley later joined the Leicestershire Regiment while their brother Alfred Tansley served in the Northamptonshire’s.

The extended Claypole family was settled along the Welland valley in the eighteenth century, in particular around Medbourne and Bringhurst, One branch came to Cottingham in the later 1700s though William’s grandfather John, was born in Great Easton in 1816 and lived in Cottingham after his marriage to Anne Munton there in 1839. Initially working as a carter, John had set up as a blacksmith in the Nook by 1861 and was still employed thus in1891, though living by then in Barrack Yard.

John and Ann’s fourth child, also named John, married Mary Ann Tansley in 1874 when he was working as a rat catcher but by the time his son William was born he was an under gamekeeper. In 1901 the family was in Blind Lane and in the census John junior described himself as a farmer. In 1911 he and Ann were back in the Nook with their youngest son Stephen.

The family were involved in tragedy in 1875 when Thomas Claypole, the five year old son of John junior’s older sister Sarah was brutally killed by their neighbour Henry Crane, who was declared insane and spent the remainder of his life in Broadmoor. For the full story visit www.craxford-family.co.uk.

In 1903 William’s older brothers John Henry and Arthur Thomas, and his sister Emily all married. John Henry and Arthur Thomas were both ironstone miners and married Rebecca Kemshead and Mary Elisabeth Tilley respectively. Mary Elisabeth Tilley was sister to soldiers Francis Omar Tilley and Sidney Thomas Tilley. Rebecca’s father George ran the Three Horseshoes Inn in the High Street and her mother was another Mary Elisabeth Tilley, aunt to Arthur Thomas’s bride. Thus William Claypole was connected to the Tilleys twice over.

William himself was a carrier and got married in 1911 to Mary Claypole nee Adkins, the widow of his distant relative Thomas who like him was a carrier. Thomas died in 1909 aged forty five leaving Mary to bring up their three young children, Florence, Elsie and Harry. At the time of the marriage William was twenty three and Mary was forty.

Mary Adkins’ older sister Elisabeth had married William Timson, a Middleton born horse keeper in 1887. They and their children lived in Cottingham and East Carlton throughout William Claypole’s childhood. Two of their sons, Charles Harry Timson and William Timson were killed during the war.

No record of when William enlisted has survived but his record states it was at Cottingham. The enlistment records of some other men in the village show that recruitment took place in Cottingham in October 1914 and again in September 1915, on which occasion his cousin Alfred, who’d been temporarily discharged from the Northamptonshire regiment as unfit, re-enlisted at the age of thirty nine.

William joined the 6th Battalion Northamptonshire regiment commanded since October 1914 by Colonel George Eustace Ripley of Bury House. Also in the 6th were James Simpson of Middleton who joined in July 1915 and Arthur Edmund Chambers whose father and grandfather were from Middleton.
The 6th was raised in September 1914 as part of Lord Kitchener’s 2nd New Army and landed in France on 26 July 1915. It formed part of the 54th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division. If he was not among the early volunteers, William would certainly have served from the Spring of 1916 as conscription was introduced on 2nd March. He would have taken part in actions on the Somme and the capture of Trones Wood, largely in hand to hand fighting on 14 July, and then in the capture of Thiepval. Casualties in both actions were very heavy and included Col. Ripley. Afterwards the 6th remained in trenches in the Albert area over the winter. 

In February 1917, in very severe weather, the 6th fought towards Grandcourt and thence to Thiepval, pursuing the Germans as they fell back to the strong defences of the Hindenburg Line to the North East of Arras. In April the British went into battle in support of the French army in the Arras Offensive. Initially the attack failed. Following the Battle of Cambrai, many of the French troops mutinied and the British army took over the lead.  From 3-4 May the 6th Battalion fought in the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe (a phase of the Arras Offensive) where the 18th Division was under the command of General Allenby. James Simpson died early the following month.

The Arras Offensive was over by 16th June and the Battalion was sent to the waterlogged hell of the Ypres Salient. At some point in the ensuing fighting, most probably during the Second Battle of Passchendaele which lasted from late October to 10th November, William was wounded and sent to the casualty clearing station of Dozinghem, one of three set up at Westvleteren several miles north west of Ypres. The three stations, christened Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem by the troops, had been set up in July in preparation for the autumn offensive. William Claypole died of wounds on 15 November and is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, one of 3,174 Commonwealth soldiers of the War.

He was survived by his wife, stepchildren, brothers and sisters and parents; his mother Mary Ann lived to see the outbreak of World War 2.