William Greenwood was an employee of the Halifax Industrial Society and worked in the Boot and Shoe Department of their store. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, 5th Battalion and was given the rank of gunner. Sent out to France to fight in April of 1915, the Co-operative News reported that it was only six months before Greenwood was grievously injured and sent to Gosforth Military Hospital in Newcastle. Unfortunately, he did not recover, and died as a result of his injuries on 6 November 1915.
He was given a military funeral, and the Co-operative News described the procession in great detail, calling it ‘of a most imposing character’. The coffin was transported to the funeral in a gun carriage; a wagon used for moving artillery equipment, and it was led by the military band of the 2nd West Riding Regiment. Senior members of the Halifax Industrial Society also attended the funeral, as well as twenty three of the Greenwood’s fellow workmen. A number of his fellow troops also left the front line to come and pay their respects to their fallen comrade, who was said to be deeply missed.
Co-operative News, 20 November 1915, page 1524.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.