11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars
Killed in Action, Messines
November 1st 1914,
Aged 26, From Dublin
William Murray a Tailor from Dublin,enlisted with the 11th Hussars in Dublin on the 8th July 1904 at the age of 16. Before war broke out he was serving with the 11th Hussars in India. August 1914 he was at Aldershot, as part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade in the Cavalry Division. Moved to France,on the 9th September 1914.
William arrived on time to see action at Messines. The region right in the north of France near Lille and the Belgian border was where the 11th fought their next historic battle. It was part of the BEF’s struggle to hold the line at Ypres. Between October 19th and 23rd 1914 the 11th fought successfully in the Ploegsteert area, helping to stop the advance of 3 German cavalry divisions. Then Allenby ordered them to a small Belgian village called Messines which stood at the southern end of a ridge 2 miles south-east of Wystschaete. The Messines Ridge offered a good vantage point over the surrounding flat countryside and it was a barrier to the Germans wishing to pass south of Ypres.
The 11th were no longer mounted. They fought in the trenches just like the infantry. At the end of October the Germans brought in 6 new divisions to make an all-out assault on the British line between Messines and Gheluvelt. The British were heavily outnumbered. On the 30th Oct a heavy German bombardment of Messines stared at 8am.
The big German attack came the next day, Oct 31st at 4.30am. The town came under attack from infantry as well as artillery fire. One of the 11th’s machine-guns proved very effective from a top window in one of the buildings. This was a dangerous place to be as houses all around were being destroyed. The shelling devastated regimental HQ where most of the senior officers, including Col Pitman were wounded.
The town was now a place where every man fought with rifle and bayonet. The streets were barricaded and holes hacked in walls to shoot through. Luckily the 11th prided itself on more than it’s fair share of marksmen, so their firing with the new Mark III Lee Enfield rifle was deadly. The battle lasted for two days until Nov 1st when the Germans succeeded in capturing Messines, but they had paid a heavy price.
The 11th Hussars suffered dreadfully with 17 Other Ranks killed and over a 100 wounded, William being among the dead. His body was never recovered and he has no known grave and is remembered with honour at the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing.
William left behind his pregnant wife Margaret who was living just off Baggott Street in Dublin City, and was expecting their first child.
In finishing William’s story it would be remiss of me not to mention his prowess as a boxer. He won several Bantam Weight championships whilst in the army.
ARE BURIED IN PEACE
BUT THEIR NAME
LIVETH FOR EVERMORE”