1067 RIFLEMAN WILLIAM WADE
12th Bn Royal Irish Rifles
Interred in Pond Farm Cemetery, Belgium. Row P, Grave 20.
William enlisted at Ballymoney and went almost straight away to train at Clandeboye. The family lived at Edward St in the town and worshipped in St.Patrick's Parish Church where William is commemorated. As soon as his training was complete he moved to Seaford on the south coast of England. This was in July of 1915 and by the following October they had landed in France. After more training, this time in trenches which more or less resembled the trenches at the Somme, they were moved to the small French village of Martinsart. This was close to what we now know as the area of the Battle of the Somme. Plans were that the British would make an attack to draw the German armies away from Verdun and it was to be at the Somme. The 12th battalion were to attack on the north bank of the River Ancre from the little village of Hamel. The ground here is low lying and is overlooked by the high ground south of the river at St.Pierre- Divion. On the morning of the 1st of July the village of St.Pierre-Divion was not directly attacked and the machine guns at this village had a clear line of sight on the men as they advanced across the river. Many of the men were killed or badly wounded and the battalion was withdrawn next day. William survived this tragic day. They were moved back to the training grounds at St.Omer for a few days where they were brought back up to strength and then moved to Belgium. The Wulverghem area was to be their base for the next year and they were in and out of the line on numerous occasions.
By early summer plans were being finalised for an attack on the Messines Ridge. It was in the final days before the start of the Battle of Messines that William Wade was killed at Wulverghem by an exploding shell. There is doubt as to whether it was a well placed German shell or a British shell falling short. Anyhow, William and two of his pals, James McCoubrey, and John Hanna were killed instantly. Another Ballymoney man, George Wales was injured in the blast, but had been sufficiently shielded from it to survive. George was killed at the Battle of Cambrai the following November.
The build-up to the Battle of Messines was in full swing and the shelling was continuous. There were to be five days of preliminary bombardment on the German lines aimed at disorganising his defences rather than the destruction of his trench systems and it was at the beginning of this bombardment that William was killed. All three are buried side by side in Pond Farm Cemetery at Wulverghem.