In 1911, 16 year old William was living with his father Zapheniah, a house decorator, and mother Mary Amelia Dack at 4 St George’s Place, Southampton. William was the second eldest of their six sons and he was working as a corn trimmer.
William served in the Hampshire Regiment, embarking on 11th January 1915 to join the 1st Battalion who had been fighting in France since August 1914. He was killed in action on 1st July 1916 during the offensive on the German lines between the small French hamlet of Gommecourt to the village of Maricourt. This was the first day of the Battle of the Somme and William was one of the 20,000 men killed during that day.
He would have been reported initially as missing, and three months after his death, the Southampton and District Pictorial carried a brief item with a plea from William’s mother saying she would welcome information about her son. The newspaper was read by soldiers in the field and it is likely she was aiming her appeal at fellow soldiers in his regiment.
William is one of 72,000 men of the Commonwealth who are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, which commemorates those who died in the Somme and have no known grave. Over 90% had died between July and November 1916.
William is remembered on Southampton Cenotaph as William H H Dack.
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