We first meet Willie in a short article in the Shipley Times & Express on 20 October 1916:Pte Willie Holdsworth, West Yorks, of 132 Moorside Road, Eccleshill, has had the misfortune to lose his left leg as the result of a severe wound.He and another comrade were orderlies to an officer of the regiment and as they advanced abreast with the officer in the centre, a shell burst in front of them, killing the officer, badly wounding the other orderly in the right leg as well as Holdsworth.More information comes to light in a piece published by the newspaper when Willie came home on leave:A most enthusiastic reception was given to Pte Willie Holdsworth of 231 Moorside Road, Eccleshill when he arrived home on Wednesday.The street was gaily decorated with bunting and the neighbours received him with many sympathetic handshakes.He had come home minus his left leg and the sympathy of the people in the neighbourhood took the practical form of a collection which realised the handsome total of £17 4s 8d. Mr Wilson, the head of the firm at Moorside Mills, contributed £5.
On calling to see the returned hero, our representative found him having a jolly time with some of his friends.He readily related something of his experience at the front. He said he joined the Duke of Wellington’s early last year. He first faced the Germans on the Somme but after a three weeks’ stay was sent North. Over the topHere he became servant to Captain Thompson who was a thorough gentleman and a very fine soldier. Things were very quiet at this place but later they were drafted South and here they went ‘over the top’ twice.On their second attempt they were compelled to retire owing to an enfilading fire.The object of their attacks was to capture Bapaume before winter set in but they were prevented from doing so by the extremely wet weather which set in.The next time they went over the top they were assisted by a couple of tanks. Their curious construction caused a great deal of amusement
among the Tommies but they proved their worth by accounting for a good number of the Boches.The order was given for the Wellington’s to advance and ‘over the top’ they went. Their captain led them forward but a shrapnel shell came and killed him and also caused other casualties.This same shell wounded Holdsworth in the left knee and he was left on the ground while his regiment swept forward and took the German trenches. A little later the Boches counter-attacked and drove the British to their former line.Holdsworth lay out in ‘No-Man’s Land’ all night and remained their till the afternoon of the following day.PrisonersThe British then stormed the German position and took it and made a good number of prisoners, consisting mainly of young lads and old men.After being laid out in the open over 24 hours, Holdsworth was picked up by ambulance men and his wounds dressed.Four of the prisoners conveyed him
on a stretcher for a distance of six miles to a clearing station and next morning he found surgeons had amputated his leg owing to sceptic poisoning setting in.Later he was conveyed to Lord Derby’s War Hospital in Warrington, the second largest hospital in the British Isles.It has accommodation for 5,000 patients and a concert room that will hold 1200 personsA concert was given once a week and pictures were shown four times a week.After five weeks in hospital sceptic poisoning set in again which necessitated another operation and now the next stage has almost been reached when he expects having to proceed to Roehampton to be fitted up with an artificial limb.He paid a high tribute to the nursing staff and the doctors at the Warrington Hospital for the skill and kindness and to the neighbours for their sympathy and generosity.Shipley Times & Express 13 April 1917