31 May 2010



Private 26156, 5th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry

Killed in action on Wednesday 22nd August 1917
Commemorated: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium, Panel 112/113

William Monnery was baptised on 9th November 1884 at St. Mary's Church, Sompting, the third son of William and Mary Monnery. The family settled in Sompting in the 1850s and most of the Monnery men worked in market gardens. By 1911 he was one of two brothers still living at home with their mother, now widowed, at Malt House Cottage, North Lancing, and he worked as a market garden labourer.

William Monnery had seen service as a regular soldier at some time before the war with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), but as his service record does not survive at The National Archives details of this are not known. It seems probable that he was on the Army Reserve at the outbreak of war and went back to his original regiment, later being transferred to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Annette Burgoyne, who researches the KSLI has information that shows 150 men of the 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions Notts and Derby Regiment were transferred to the 5th Battalion KSLI in August 1916. It seems likely that William was among these men, forty-three of whom later lost their lives.

Unlike his brother Harry, whose death cannot be explained by the unit war diary entries, William Monnery was killed on a day when his battalion were in action at Hooge, east of Ypres. Extracts from the war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/1902] give some idea of the action that day:

Immediately on ZERO going, 'A' and 'B' Companies advanced in small section columns through the wood and quickly obtained their objective throughout the line with the exception of the RIGHT flank which was 'refused' in order to obtain connection with the 43rd Brigade whose progress was held up by machine gun fire from 'L' Farm. Within 5 minutes of the advance, all the officers of the RIGHT Coy. became casualties and only one junior officer remained with the LEFT Coy. Considerable opposition was encountered during the advance, especially by machine gun fire. 'D' and 'C' Coys. carried out their instructions for action on ZERO, and on my being informed of the officer casualties, I ordered Captain Lloyd forward ...

... I realised that at least a fourth of my Battalion had by this time become casualties, and wished to be prepared adequately for any counter-attack which might follow.

... On the morning of the 23rd inst. at about 4.30 a.m. a heavy counter-attack was launched against 43rd Brigade, and it was only on my extreme RIGHT that our Lewis Gunners were able to participate in repelling it, and considerable execution was done by them in the enemies ranks, firing half-right ...

The casualties for the action were one officer and 19 other ranks killed, while a further 4 officers and 107 other ranks were wounded, with 12 other ranks missing - somewhere among these was William Monnery. An entry in the Worthing Gazette, dated 10th October 1917, reports his death:

PRIVATE W. MONNERY KILLED - An intimation has been received within the past few days that Private William Monnery, whose relatives live at Malthouse Cottages, North Lancing, was killed in action in France on the 22nd August. Prior to his enlistment Monnery was employed by Messrs. H. and A. Pullen-Burry, his father having worked for the same firm for many years. Private Monnery, who was thirty-five years of age and unmarried, was in the Shropshire Light Infantry. Four of his married brothers are now on service.

William Monnery's age is given incorrectly by the newspaper, and again by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who give it as twenty-eight years. He was approaching his thirty-third birthday, and died just six weeks after his brother Harry. Both brothers are commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial, 5 miles north-east of Ieper, the modern name given to the town of Ypres. The memorial bears the names of 35,000 officers and men who died in the area and have no known grave.


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