b. 04/02/1885 Eston, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. d. 06/08/1916 Contalmaison, France
William Henry Short (1884-1916) was born at 11 William Street, Eston, near Middlesbrough, Yorkshire on 4th February 1885. His birth was registered as William Henry Sivill. William was known as Twig or Twiggie. His father’s name is not known, and his mother was Anne Stephenson Sivill. She married James Short in Middlesbrough in 1888, and it is thought he may have been William’s father. William had eight siblings in total.
William was educated at Grangetown Board School and he was employed as a general labourer in Eston, and later worked as a craneman at Bolckow, Vaughan & Co steelworks in Eston. He enlisted on 2nd September 1914 and went to France on 26th August 1915, after basic training.
On 6th August 1916, near Pozieres, France, William was foremost in the attack, bombing the enemy with great gallantry, when he was severely wounded in the foot. He was urged to go back, but refused and continued to throw bombs. Later his leg was shattered by a shell, and he was unable to stand, so he lay in the trench adjusting detonators and straightening the pins of bombs for his comrades. He died before he could be carried out of the trench.
His citation was not quite correct, as William was carried out of the trench barely alive and died the following day at Contalmaison. He was buried in Contalmaison Chateau Cemetery. The first his parents knew about his death was a note from an old friend, Jack Dixon, who was serving with him in C Company. As William never married, his VC was presented to his father by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th November 1916.
In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The medals were sold to the Regiment by William’s youngest and only surviving brother in April 1979 and are held by the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GREEN HOWARDS MUSEUM, RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: CONTALMAISON CHATEAU CEMETERY, FRANCE.
William Short's medals at the Green Howards Museum, Richmond (Andrew Swan).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT II, ROW B, GRAVE 16.
Eston Cemetery, Middlesbrough
Grangetown War Memorial, Cleveland
War Illustrated, 23rd September 1916
His VC commemorative stone in Eston Cemetery,
courtesy of Ian Stubbs