Topic: William Spence

Topic type:

A soldier of the Great War killed in action at Gallipoli.

Private William Spence - No 6/1984 

William was born on 20th December 1884 at Killinchy son of Jane Spence. His mother had remarried by the time she was listed as his next of kin, her name then given as Jean Taylor. Before enlistment he was a farm hand at Dunsandel working for James Spence, possibly his uncle. He was 5 foot 7 ¼ inches tall with what was described as a sandy complexion, blue eyes and red hair.

William enlisted on the 6 January 1915 at Dunsandel and was assigned to the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. He embarked with the 4th Reinforcements on 17 April 1915. He was killed in action on 7 August 1915 during the August Offensive action on Bauchops Hill, aged 31. Like many others his body was not found and he is named on the Chunuk Bair Memorial to the Missing, Gallipoli. William is remembered on the Southbridge Plaque, Ellesmere County Memorial.

 Researched and written by L M Seaton

CWGC Cemetery locale history: The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. The Allies landed on the peninsula on 25-26 April 1915; the 29th Division at Cape Helles in the south and the Australian and New Zealand Corps north of Gaba Tepe on the west coast, an area soon known as Anzac. On 6 August, further landings were made at Suvla, just north of Anzac, and the climax of the campaign came in early August when simultaneous assaults were launched on all three fronts. Chunuk Bair was one of the main objectives in the Battle of Sari Bair, fought 6-10 August 1915. The attack was to be carried out by two columns of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, starting from the outposts on the shore and proceeding up the Sazli Belt Dere and the Chailak Dere. Meanwhile the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were to clear the foothills. The New Zealand Infantry reached Rhododendron Spur, where they were joined by the 10th Gurkha Rifles, from further north, and reinforced by the 8th Welsh, the 7th Gloucesters, the Auckland Mounted Rifles, and the Maori Contingent. The Wellington Infantry and some of the Gloucesters and Welsh reached the summit, and were later joined by men of the Auckland Infantry and Mounted Rifles. These troops, after repulsing incessant Turkish attacks, were reinforced by the Otago Battalion and the Wellington Mounted Rifles. The 6th Gurkhas and the 6th South Lancashire Regiment came in on the left. The 6th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment relieved the force at Chunuk Bair on the evening of 9 August, supported later by part of the 5th Wilts, but on the morning of the 10th, the position was taken by a determined and overwhelming counter-attack, carried out by a Turkish Army Corps led by Mustapha Kemal Pasha. The loss of Chunuk Bair marked the end of the effort to reach the central foothills of the peninsula and on this sector of the front, the line remained unaltered until the evacuation in December 1915. The CHUNUK BAIR (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL is one of four memorials erected to commemorate New Zealand soldiers who died on the Gallipoli peninsula and whose graves are not known. This memorial relates to the Battle of Sari Bair and in other operations in this sector. It bears more than 850 names. CHUNUK BAIR CEMETERY was made after the Armistice on the site where the Turks had buried some of those Commonwealth soldiers who were killed on 6-8 August. It contains 632 Commonwealth burials, only ten of which are identified.

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William Spence


First Names:William
Last Name:Spence
Date of Birth:20 December 1884
Place of Birth:Killinchy, Canterbury
Date of Death:7 August 1915
Place of Death:Gallipolli, Turkey
Memorial or Cemetery:Chunuk Bair Memorial
Age at death:30
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Farm Hand
Marital Status:Single
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Enlistment details:16 January 1915
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Mrs Jean Taylor (former Spence), Post-office, Timaru, New Zealand
Service Number:6/1984
Rank last held:Private
Embarkation:17 April 1915
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Willochra or Knight Templer or Waitomo
Theatres of War:Gallipoli
Cause of Death:Killed in action