Private William Roberts

Private William Roberts, service number 42249, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion.

Private William Roberts, service number 42249, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion.

William Roberts had been a co-operator for the entirety of his working life. He joined the Brightside and Carbrook Society as soon as he left school, and had risen to the rank of Assistant Branch Grocery Manager by the time he was called up.

He was conscripted into the army, joining the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was sent out to France in early 1917. Sadly, a few weeks later he was killed in action on 12 February. A notification of his death appeared in the Co-operative News a month later.


Co-operative News, 17 March 1917, page 251.

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.