Place of Birth Southampton
Date of Birth 1896
Service Number 2036
Regiment 26th Field Ambulance/Territorial Force
Battalion Medical Corps
Died 5th November 1916
Death Location The Somme
Family Life Before the War
William was born in 1896 to George and Emily Saint who were married in 1891. George Saint was born in Romsey and Emily Saint was born in Lymington, they had nine children – William (1896) Frank (1903) Henry (1905)Percy (1907) Alfred (1910) Ada M(1892) Georgena W (1899) and Eleanor F(1901) + one other child possibly William Witcher (1892).
In 1911 the family lived at 23 North Road. St.Denys. His father George worked for the Railway Company as a Wireman/Ganger.
In 1901 the family lived in Portswood at 6 Kent Road. William J Witcher lived with them, he was a cleaner with the railway company, he was born in Porthcawl, Glamorgan Wales and recorded as a brother.
William joined the Territorial Force – and served in the Medical Corps with the 26th Wessex Field Ambulance on 5th November 1914.
26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps and served with 8th Division.
The 8th Division was formed at Hursley Park, Winchester during October 1914 from regular army units returning from around the British Empire. They proceeded to France in November 1914, a much needed reinforcement to the BEF and remained on the Western Front throughout the war. In 1915 they were in action at The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers and The action of Bois Grenier.
In 1916 They were in action at the Battle of The Somme. In 1917 they fought in The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and then moved to Flanders and were in action in The Battle of Pilkem and The Battle of Langemarck. In 1918 they saw action during The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The actions of Villers-Bretonneux, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of the Scarpe and The Final Advance in Artois including the capture of Douai.
The Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit (it was not a vehicle). Most came under command of a Division, and had special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades in the Division. Each Division had three Field Ambulances. The maximum number the Field Ambulance could deal with was 150 casualties, but in battle many would simply be overwhelmed by numbers.
The Ambulance Station was responsible for establishing and operating a number of points along the casualty evacuation chain, from the Bearer Relay Posts which were up to 600 yards behind the Regimental Aid Posts, through to the Advanced Dressing Station to the Main Dressing Station. It also provided a Walking Wounded Collecting Station, as well as various rest areas and local sick rooms. The Ambulances would usually establish 1 Advanced Dresssing Statio per Brigade, and 1 Main Dressing Station for the Division
The Field Ambulance was divided into 3 Sections. In turn, those Sections had Stretcher Bearer and Tented sections. The Field Ambulance was composed of 10 officers and 224 men.
The final phase for the Battle of the Somme took place between 26th September and 18th November 1916. The Battle of the Ancre was between 13th – 18th November and the last big operation of that year, the Ancre Valley is between Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel and is relatively low ground. The battle began on 13th November 1916 with a mine being detonated beneath Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt west of Beaumont Hamel, many divisions took part in the advancement and most of the objectives were taken. The British advanced a total of 5miles on a 4 mile front up the Ancre valley and caused the Germans to begin the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line prematurely, in the area north of the Somme on 15th November 1916.
The United Kingdom suffered casualties of 419,654 being either killed,wounded or taken prisoner.
William was killed on the 15thNovember 1916 on the Somme.
He is buried in the Guards Cemetary, Lesboeufs on the Somme, his grave reference is XI.D6 . He was awarded the Victory Medal, British Medal and 14th Star – clasp only.