BORN HULL 1895. SON OF THOMAS HENRY GREASLEY (1840-1903). STEPSON OF GEORGE HENDLEY AND ADA SHAW, OF 3 SPRING GROVE, NEWINGTON STREET, HULL (1911 CENSUS). HE HAD A YOUNGER BROTHER, PHILIP.
EMPLOYED AS A STORE KEEPER ASSISTANT, WORKING IN HULL, IN 1911. HE MOVED TO LEEDS AND ENLISTED IN THE 2ND LEEDS PALS, WHEN WAR BEGAN. HE SERVED AS A LANCE SERGEANT, WITH THE 15TH WEST YORKSHIRE BATTALION. POSTED TO EGYPT ON 15/12/1915. ARRIVED IN FRANCE IN MARCH 1916. HE WAS KILLED IN ACTION, ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME, 1ST JULY 1916, AGED 21. HE IS COMMEMORATED ON THE THIEPVAL MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING. UNMARRIED. HIS ARMY EFFECTS WERE LEFT TO HIS MOTHER, ADA HENDLEY.
Notes: He would have gone to Colsterdale for his basic training, and then on to Ripon and Fovant, before sailing, on 6th December 1915, for Egypt, where the Pals were to defend the Suez Canal against a possible Turkish attack. This never came, and at the beginning of March 1916 they sailed again, this time for France.
They landed at Marseilles, and by train and on foot made their way to the Somme district, where they were to prepare for the major British offensive, known as The Big Push. This had been intended as a joint British/French venture, but the German attack on Verdun in February of that year meant that almost all the French were needed there, and their contribution to the Battle of the Somme was greatly reduced. This battle went on for over four months, and by the end there had been some small gains of territory, but it was not the walkover that had been promised, and is now remembered for the disaster of its first day. The Leeds Pals first taste of action was at Serre on the Somme with 31st Division where they suffered heavy casualties as the battle was launched. They advanced from a line of copses named after the Gospels.
The battalion was shelled in its trenches before Zero Hour (7.30 am) and when it advanced, it was met by heavy enemy machine gun fire. A few men got as far as the German barbed wire but no further. Later in the morning the German defenders came out to clear the bodies off their wire, brutally killing any that were still alive. The battalion casualties, sustained in just the few minutes after Zero Hour, were 24 officers and 504 other ranks of which 15 officers and 233 other ranks were killed.