26501 Corporal William Robertson Storey, 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was killed in action 10 July 1917 and is commemorated on the Nieuport Memorial.[1]   He was 21/22 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood

 Family Details

 William Robertson was born in 1895[2] at Evenwood to Ralph and Elizabeth Storey.  There were at least 4 children, all born at Evenwood or Ramshaw:[3]

  • William Robertson born 1895
  • Reginald bc.1803
  • Sidney bc.1905
  • Elsie bc.1908

In 1901 the family lived at Stones End and 33 year old Ralph worked as a tailor.[4]  By 1911, the family lived at Gordon Lane, Ramshaw and William worked as a coal miner (a driver).[5]

 Military Detail:

William Storey attested 5 June 1915 aged 19 years 10 months at Bishop Auckland into the 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry his local Territorial Force being given the regimental number 3851.[6]

The Church Magazine reported:[7]

“In regard to the New Army, I have recently heard of four more recruits from the Parish.  William R. Storey of Gordon Lane.  From Lands Bank there is James Barron the son of Mrs. Bainbridge of Cross Row, no 48. then from Evenwood, Josiah Wilson 17 the Oaks.  All these are 6th D.L.I. And John Wren of Copeland Row has joined the Royal Navy.”

He was 5’9½” tall and worked as a miner.[8]  Private W.R. Storey was promoted to Lance Corporal 30 October 1915 entered France 20 July 1916.  He was transferred to the 1/Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 5 September 1916 and appointed acting Corporal 8 September 1916.[9]  He was wounded in action 26 September 1916 and admitted to 39 Casualty Clearance station then to no.12 General Hospital at Rouen.  He rejoined his unit 9 February 1917. [10]

The 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was a Regular Army unit and in August 1914 was based in Aldershot and as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division was one of the first to move to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force and it remained on the Western Front throughout the war. [11] It took part in most of the major actions.

The 2nd Brigade consisted of the following units:

  • 1/5th Battalion the King’s Own joined October 1915 left January 1916
  • 1/9th Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool) joined March 1915 left November 1915
  • 2nd Battalion, the Royal Sussex joined August 1914
  • 1/5th (Cinque Ports) Bn., the Royal Sussex joined February 1915 left August 1915
  • 1st Bn., the Loyal North Lancs. Joined August 1914 left February 1918
  • 1st Bn., the Northampton Regiment joined August 1914
  • 2nd Bn., the King’s Royal Rifle Corps joined August 1914
  • 2nd Brigade Machine Gun Corps formed 26 January 1916
  • 2nd Trench Mortar Battery joined 27 November 1915.

The Division was preparing for an operation along the Belgian Coast in summer 1917 (codenamed Operation Hush) and several mobile units were despatched in readiness.  The operation was ultimately cancelled when:

  • the initial assaults in the Third Battle of Ypres failed to progress as expected
  • the Germans detected the plan and launched a pre-emptive strike. [12]

 10 & 11 July 1917: German Attacks on Nieuport: summary [13]

The XV Corps of the Fourth Army which included the 1st and 32nd Divisions were moved up to the Dunkirk area from the Somme to take part in Operation Hush.

20 June 1917, the 32nd Division took over the Nieuport bridgehead from the French Corps.  The 1st Division and the 66th (2nd West Lancashire) Division moved up before the end of June. These formations began intensive training for an amphibious landing in locations along the coast.  However, the Germans detected the British plans and the Marines Korps Flandern launched a pre-emptive attack which deprived the British of their attack and “Operation Hush” was cancelled.  The German attack was codenamed “Operation Strandfest”.

The British plan was associated with the Third Battle of the Ypres – the attack out of the Ypres Salient to take the Passchendaele Ridge then to sweep north and cut off the ports of Ostend, Zeebrugge and Bruges which were Germany’s important U Boat bases.  While the Germans attention was focused on this battle, other British forces would:

  • land to the north of Nieuport on the Belgian Coast
  • breakout from the bridgehead across the Yser River  at Nieuport
  • and link up with the amphibious landing

“Operation Strandfest” was preceded by a 3 day artillery bombardment.  Fog and low cloud prevented detection of the German build up.

10 July 1917:  at 5.30am, the massed German artillery including 3 no. 24cm. naval guns in shore batteries and 58 artillery batteries opened up the British positions.  Mustard gas was used for the first time in the barrage.  All but one of the bridges across the Yser was destroyed isolating the 1st Northamptonshires and the 2/KRRC of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division on the extreme left flank.  The German bombardment continued throughout the first day.  At 8.00pm the Germans launched their infantry assault by which time the 2 British battalions had suffered 70-80% casualties.  German storm-troopers attacked down the coast outflanking the British.  Waves of German Marines supported by flamethrower teams mopped up the dugouts.  The British battalions were overwhelmed.

The German attack on the 32nd Division further east was less successful but British casualties amounted to approx. 3,126 of all ranks killed, wounded and missing.  Of these 50 officers and 1,253 other ranks belonged to the 1st Northamptonshires and the 2/KRRCof the 2nd Brigade.

July 1917:  The 1/Loyal North Lancs. In action [14]

4 July:  the battalion relieved the 2/KRR Corps at Nieuport Bains and all was relatively quiet until the 7th when heavy German shelling hit the “front system” and Nieuport Bains.  There were only 2 casualties.

The next 2 days were very quiet.  The 1st Northamptons and the 2/KRR Corps sent out a small raiding party which retired under heavy machine gun fire.

10 July:  the successful enemy action commenced.

“10/7/1917 about 6AM the enemy commenced a heavy bombardment of the front system – the river NIEUPORT BAINS and the back areas COXYDE & COXYDE BAINS.  This increased during the day & about 7.25PM he successfully attacked, taking our trenches up to the E bank of the river – the two Bns. in the front line were practically annihilated.*(a report of the operations is attached) An advance party totalling 4 officers and 36 OR who went up to the left Bn. in the early morning of the 10th were present during the attack & of these only two OR returned. 

The Battalion occupied the trenches on the W Bank of the Yser as the front line.  A & B Coys being in the front line, C & D Coys. in support.

After the attack, the bombardment slackened slightly but it was not until 5AM the following morning that it really ceased.  About 8 o’clock in the evening the enemy’s planes dropped bombs on RINCK CAMP which was occupied by details of the Bn.  1 OR was killed & 1 officer & 6 OR wounded, the officer & 1 OR being attached.  Total casualties for the day – 4 Officers missing, 3 officers wounded, 2 OR killed, 29 OR wounded 34 OR missing.    

11/7/1917 After 5AM the bombardment ceased & the rest of the day was very quiet.

 *Immediately this was observed 23983 Pte. Higson, one of the Battalion Scouts secured a rope and swam with it across the YSER, closely followed by Capt. H. A. Pallant MC RAMC attached Bn who was largely responsible for the safe crossing of men unable to swim and of others in the last stage of exhaustion.  By their joint efforts the whole party was safely brought across.”

Corporal W.R. Storey was killed in action 10 July 1917. He has no known grave and was one of the 34 Other Ranks reported as missing during this action.  Later research records that 1/Loyal North Lancs. lost 1 Officer and 11 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds 10 July 1917.[15]

Corporal W.R. Storey served a total of 2 years and 36 days as follows:[16]

  •  Home: 5 June 1915 to 19 July 1916
  • France:  20 July 1916 to 10 July 1917

Corporal W.R. Storey was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[17]

 News of “Missing”

The following report appeared in a local newspaper: [18]

“Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Storey, Gordon Lane has been informed that their son Corpl. Wm. Storey is missing.  The officer who sent the information from France speaks highly of his character and abilities as a soldier.”

 News of his Death

The Evenwood Church Magazine reported:[19]

“Then there are Ptes. Arkless, DLI and W.R. Storey (nephew of our good friend and sidesman Mr. J. Brass) both of them once reported missing, now officially notified as dead.  There again there was uncertainty, long endured by loving anxious hearts at home, ending at last in the news which has all along been dreaded.  If anybody has suffered and endured for their country, the parents of these boys have and we ought all of us to do our very best to comfort and cheer them in so far as it is possible to us to do so…I well remember preparing and presenting William Robertson Storey for confirmation.”  

 Commemorations [20]

Corporal W.R. Storey is commemorated on the Nieuport Memorial.  Nieuport is a town in the province of West Flanders, Belgium on the south-west side of the river Yser, 3km from the sea.  The Memorial commemorates 548 British officers and men who fell in operations of 1914 and 1917 on the Belgian coast and whose graves are not known.  Commonwealth forces relieved French troops in June 1917 and the XV Corps saw fierce fighting in July before handing the sector back to the French in November 1917.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.271 Auckland 1895 Q3

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Army Form E.5??? Territorial Force & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Evenwood Church Magazine August 1915

[8] Army Form B.178 Medical History

[9] Statement of the Services

[10] Army Form B.173 Casualty Form Active Service



[13] Various sources including  &

[14] 1/Loyal North Lancs. War Diary

[15] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[16] Military History Sheet

[17] Medal Roll

[18] Auckland and County Chronicle 9 August 1917

[19] Evenwood Church Magazine August 1917

[20] CWGC


STOREY William R.

Storey W.R.



Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Loyal North
Lancashire Regiment

STOREY W.S. Inscription


STOREY William R.
Commemorative Plaque