William Long

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Medals: 1914–15 Star, British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 10737

Parents: Robert and Clara Long

Marital status: Single

Home address: Buckover, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Army

Date of birth: 1892

Place of birth: Coleford, Glos

Date of death: 08/05/1915

Buried/Commemorated at: La Brique Military Cemetery No. 2 (Ref. II. A. 3.); Thornbury United Reformed Church Memorial Tablet

Age: 23

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

William Long, known as Willie, was born in 1892 in Coleford, in the Forest of Dean, the third child of Robert and Clara Long. He had four brothers and a sister. The family lived variously at Milbury Heath and Buckover, other addresses in Thornbury town, and briefly in the Forest of Dean. In 1911 the family was residing at Rogerstone in Monmouthshire. William was a warehouseman at the steelworks where his father also worked as a labourer

Willie enlisted at Horfield Barracks in Bristol. He was serving in the 4th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps at the time of his death. The local newspaper said he had 3 years service, one year 5 months of which was in India. He probably returned to England in November 1914 and by December moved to France with 80th Brigade in 27th Division

In March 1915 the Brigade was engaged in the heavy fighting near St Eloi. Sir John French wrote, ‘A very gallant attack was made by the 4th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps on the enemy's trenches... About sixty yards of the enemy's trench were cleared...’ The British infantry are said to have suffered about 500 casualties that day

In April and early May, during the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battalion took part in the Battles of Gravenstafel Ridge and St. Julien

The newspaper reported that Willie had died at Hill 60, but he was killed in action at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, a little further north near Hooge

The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry held a key position on the Bellewaarde Ridge, supported by 4th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. 4th Rifle Brigade. The 28th Division were on their left, along the Frezenberg Ridge and on towards Mouse Trap Farm. On the 8th May three German Corps attacked, outnumbering the defenders three to one. The blanket of fire was intense. There were so many casualties in the Canadians’ front line that their Major was forced to call up the cooks and batmen to help man it. The enemy’s third assault on the Frezenberg Ridge broke through the 28th Division’s line

Falling back a short way, the Allies held fast for the rest of the day. A few kilometres to their north, near Mouse Trap Farm, a gallant stand by the Northumberland Fusiliers stopped any further encroachment there. For the next few days the remnants of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and 4th Kings Royal Rifle Corps. held the line

Over three days of fighting 4th Kings Royal Rifle Corps. lost 15 officers and 478 other ranks, leaving it with 3 officers and 100 men. Willie’s grave is in La Brique Military Cemetery no. 2 near Ypres. The hamlet was named after a brick works that used to stand nearby before the war

At least four Long brothers served in the army. William, Ernest and Sidney are remembered together on this memorial, the greatest loss of any family in Thornbury. Their younger brother Harold was in action as a Lance Corporal with the 5th Glosters

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website. Thornbury and District Museum Research Group
Forces War Records and the CWGC