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Dance, William

William Dance
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Private William Dance (21000)
Killed in Action on Sunday 30th July 1916
Battle of the Somme, aged 37
Son of George & Mary Ann Dance of 86, Wescott Rd., Wokingham, Berks.
Father's occupation: Carter on Farm
Born Q2 1880 at Hurst
1 sister, 6 brothers, position in family: 2
Relatives: Brother of John Robert Dance
Local address: Seaford Road, Wokingham
Enlisted:Wokingham, After Feb 1916
Regiment:Royal Berkshire Regiment
Battalion:5th Bn.
Division:12th (Eastern)
Died:Sunday 30th July 1916
Cause:Killed in Action
Action:Battle of the Somme
Battalion at:Bouzincourt
Commemorated:Grave at Tincourt New British Cemetery

William Dance was born in Hurst in the first half of 1880 to George and Mary Ann Dance.

William enlisted during the war and became a private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The 17th Manchester Regiment was involved from the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. They suffered heavy losses at Montauvan and Trones Wood during the battle to capture the village of Guillemont held by the German 2nd Battalion 104th Reserve Infantry Regiment. Due to the heavy casualties they requested reinforcements and on the 11th July were joined by around 70 men from the Royal Berkshire Regiment. William Dance and George Miles were part of that group.

From the 24th to 29th July 1916 the 17th Manchesters were entrenched at Trones Wood and Bernafay Wood, preparing for another attack on Guillemont. They were engaged in active reconnaissance and awaiting a detachment of troops from the Liverpool Pals Regiment to join them, but they were delayed by misty weather.

Late in the evening of the 29th they came under heavy enemy bombardment with shells and tear gas which lasted for 6 hours until 4am on the Sunday morning.

At 4.45am that morning the 18th Manchesters and Royal Scots Fusiliers were ordered to attack and advance on the German position at Guillemont. They came under heavy resistance from machine gun and sniper fire.

At 5.45am the 17th Manchesters received orders to reinforce the attack west of the village but they were disorientated by the thick mist. They joined up with the 16/18th Manchesters at 7.45am.

Led by Lieut. Col. Grysewood, the 17th Manchesters joined in the attack in an attempt to break the German defences but were held back by short range rifle and machine gun fire and a thick barrier of barbed wire. They received no further support during the battle.

By lunchtime that Sunday there were 274 casualties with 48 killed, including two officers. Both William and George were amongst the dead. His original battlefield grave site was in a position close to Arrow Head Copse where the 17th Manchester were withdrawn on the afternoon of 30th July. William’s body was identified by his 21000 Royal Berkshire Regiment number on his spoon.

On Saturday 9th June, 1917, the Reading Mercury reported:

‘NOW REPORTED DIED OF WOUNDS Private William Dance, Royal Berks, who has been missing since July 31st, 1916, was on Saturday reported officially to his friends “died of wounds.” Much sympathy is felt for his parents, he being the second son they have lost in the war. Prior to his joining up he was employed at Messrs. Drake and Mount’s, Wokingham, and his parents live in Wescott Road’

William now rests at Tincourt New British Cemetery. His younger brother Robert had been killed in Belgium in 1914.


William Dance at Tincourt New British Cemetery
Tincourt New British Cemetery

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon