William Little had been a worker at the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s Crumpsall biscuit works prior to enlisting in the army. He had worked there for fifteen years, and was regarded as an excellent worker in the factory. Little was known throughout Crumpsall for being a keen sportsman, playing for both the cricket and football teams. He even helped the Crumpsall Fire Brigade to win the Co-operative Challenge Shield in 1911.
He enlisted in the early days of the war, joining the Manchester Regiment, 12th Battalion as a private in 1915. Fighting on the Western Front for nearly two years, he was later promoted to sergeant for his good work in the field. On 8 February 1917, Little was regrettably killed in action in France whilst in charge of a working party. His gravestone was erected at the Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery in the Somme, France.
His two brothers also joined the army, one of whom was severely injured around the time of Little’s death.
Co-operative News, 24 March 1917, page 289.
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.