1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles,
Wounded in Action, Bois Grenier, 13th October 1915
From Dublin, aged 26
William was born in Dublin in 1889. Coming from squalid conditions, he had spent all his life in tenements. At the outbreak of war he and his family were living in squalor at 22 Ellis Quay.
He enlisted for the Royal Irish Rifles on the 9th November 1914. He departed shortly after for France on active service, joining up with the 1st Battalion (25th Brigade in the 8th Division), after their action near Fromelles on 21st May 1915. Straight into trench life, William, was one of a draft of 5 Officers and 146 Other Ranks needed to reinforce a depleted battalion who had been suffering high casualties of late.
The battalion remainned in this quiet sector until the end of September and the it was on to Bois Grenier. The attack was conceived as an adjunct to the Battle of Loos. The aim was ‘to capture about 1200 yards of the German front line system opposite the re-entrant and link them up with our own line at the Well Farm and Le Bridoux salients, thereby both shortening and strengthening our position’.
The following assault troops were used:- 2/Rifle Brigade, 2/Royal Berkshire and 2/Lincolnshire. 1/Royal Irish Rifles held the left of the line.
A ferocious battle for William and his pals. Under difficult conditions of heavy rain and mist, the battalion made swift progress capturing there objective together with the 2nd Lincs. However not all the Germans had succumbed here at Bridoux Fort. The second line was full of Germans and rifle fire was brisk. Eventually, under an avalanche of bombs, the Lincolns withdrew along with the Irish Rifles.
The chief reason for the failure to hold the German trench was the superiority of the enemy bombers, who threw a larger and heavier bomb than the British could throw. At 6pm, orders were received to remain in position for the night. Other casualties for the day were 2/Lt J.H.Butler (slightly wounded), 11 Other Ranks killed, 76 wounded and 15 missing. William had come through.
The battalion came out of the front line on October 1st to billets at Pont Mercier.
The 1st Royal Irish Rifles were back in the line on the 13th. During this night,there was a lot of trench mortaring and rifle fire opposite Bridoux & Well Farm Salients. 1 officer and 9 men of a working party were wounded. One of these men was William Haughton. William received a Gunshot Wound to the thigh. During a somewhat peaceful time of trench life & having come through serious action a couple of weeks earlier, William’s war was at an end. A serious wound to one of his legs subsequently led to its amputation.
On his return to “Blighty”, it seems William spent nearly 9 months in hospital, recovering and recuperating, before finally being discharged on the 14th July 1916, returning to his parents home at 22 Ellis Quay in Dublin.