William James Tansley

Name William James Tansley
Corps 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment
Rank Lance Corporal
Service No. 7898
Date/Place of entry 12 October 1914
Date of death 13 March 1915*  Killed in Action
Memorial/Grave Le Touret Memorial, Panel 11

*Same date as Edward Towndrow

William James Tansley was the eldest of the four children of labourer Amos Tansley and his wife Lucy Eliza nee West. He was born in the spring of 1890 when his parents were living at Pinfold Bank. Their other children were Mary, Emma and Samuel George.

His mother died in 1903 at the age of thirty three. Amos remarried in 1904 to widow Elisabeth Waterfield who had several children from her first marriage.

Amos had attested for the Leicestershire Militia in his teens, and William signed on for twelve years with the Leicestershire Regiment on 9 May 1906, when he reached his sixteenth birthday – he gave his age as eighteen years two months on the attestation document. In 1911 he was a private with the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, as were Edwin Towndrow and Thomas Crane, and stationed at Fort St George in Madras (now Chennai). The Fort is now home to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.  In 1913 the Battalion were in Ranikhet where William James was hospitalised in April 1913.

When the Battalion were sent to the Western Front in 1914 he was wounded in action and again hospitalised, convalescing at one of the several army hospitals in Rouen. He rejoined the Battalion on 2nd January 1915, only to be killed in action on 13 March. This was the last day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle where the Allies sustained very heavy losses. Of the thousand men who attacked at Aubers, none survived. Overall Allied losses were seven thousand British and four thousand, two hundred Indian from the Meerut Division.

His name is listed on Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais. The Memorial lies at the east end of Le Touret Military Cemetery on the Bethune-Armentieres road. It commemorates over thirteen thousand, four hundred British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. Almost all of them were killed in actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched from Estaires to Grenay.

William James was survived by his father Amos, who died in 1946. His sisters had both married in 1912, Mary to Sidney Pinney of Northampton, and Lilian to Edward Harrison. His brother Samuel George, born in 1898, may have been the Samuel G Tansley who joined the Northamptonshire Regiment on 3 December 1914 and served in France. A man of his name and age died in Derby in 1958.

Several members of the Tansley clan served during the war but the only other death so far identified was his second cousin Samuel Ernest Tansley who grew up in Hendon and died from wounds at Gallipoli in August 1915.