Mariner – Private William John

29 May 1882 – 1 July 1916:-

William was born in Chorley, Lancashire and worked as a miner and weaver before enlisting in 1899. He was described as being 5ft 2in tall and weighed 7st 7lb. He served in India where he became a lightweight wrestling champion. He was discharged in 1912.

In 1914, while serving a prison sentence in Parkhurst Prison, Isle of Wight, he was given permission to re-enlist in the 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was posted to France.

On 22nd May 1915 near Cambrin, France, during a violent thunder storm, Private Mariner left his trench and crept out through German wire entanglements until he reached the emplacement of an enemy gun which had been hindering progress. He climbed on top of a German parapet and threw a bomb under the roof of the emplacement and after 15 minutes he threw another bomb. He then waited while the guns opened fire on the wire entanglements behind him and eventually he was able to return to his own trench. He had been out alone for one and a half hours.

After receiving his VC, he returned to Salford where he received a civic reception from the Mayor and Corporation and was presented with an illuminated address and a gold watch. He was also given a reception in Chorley.

William was sadly hit by a shell in a raid at the Railway Triangle near Double Crassier, south of Loos in July 1916. No remains were found. He was commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

His VC sold in auction to a private collector in 2006 and its whereabouts is unknown.

Filed under: WW1