William Henry North was fourth of five children of Idle-born mill hand Fred North and his Staffordshire-born wife, Sarah Jane.On 5 August 1914, the Shipley Times & Express included William in a list of reservists from Idle who had been summoned to serve by Royal Proclamation.On 14 May 1915 the paper published a letter from Sgt Harry Atkinson of Idle to reassure William’s parents. In it he said that “he has seen at the front Cpl W H North of Idle, a member of the Gloucester Regt.“Cpl North has been through the chief engagements which have taken place since the war began and it has been rumoured on several occasions that he was missing.
“Sgt Atkinson has written to reassure the relatives and friends of Cpl North, who, he says, is ‘in the pink of condition and the best of spirits.’“Sgt Atkinson points out that his friend has just been made corporal and adds that as many Idelians have won promotion while with the colours that there will be ‘fair crop’ of N.C.Os in the village when the war is over.”Only a month later came the news that William had been wounded and was in hospital in Glasgow and on 3 September 1915 we read that his war was over. He had been discharged as medically unfit for
further duty after being shot in the arm.“As a reservist he was called to the colours on the outbreak of war, sent to France on 26 November 1914 and in action within days.“In January he was involved in a massive battle to repel a German attack. ‘They were wanting to secure a great victory in honour of the Kaiser’s birthday but all they go was a severe thrashing,’ he said.‘The Huns came on in droves and one regiment – the 8th Prussian Guards – was practically wiped out. There were over a thousand Germans lying dead in front of our trenches and yet the losses of the
English were not more than ten.‘When night came on the English soldiers got a German helmet a piece and they did look toffs in them and no mistake.’“L Cpl North picked up his injury in May during a battle near Lille. He was within fifteen yards from the position his regiment was taking when he was shot.”William appears in the army lists of soldiers who died after discharge. The date given is 7 September 1918 and he left his effects to his widow, Millie, though we’ve been unable to trace when they married.They were living at 1 Wellington Street, Idle, at the time of his death and he was buried in Thorp Methodist Burial Ground, Idle.