William Sparkes was baptised on 6th February 1887 at St Michael's Church, Macclesfield, the son of Colour Sergeant Robert and Susanna Charlotte Sparkes of the Militia Barracks, Crompton Road, Macclesfield. He was educated at Crompton Road School.
In 1901, 14 year old William had left school and was a baker's errand boy, living at 189 Crompton Road with his parents (Robert was then a 'retired sergeant') and siblings Kate Mary (21), Harriet (19), Robert (18), James (16), Lottie Primrose (10) and Maria Olive (9). Ten years later, William's father had died but the family was still at the same address, and William was employed as a hand loom silk weaver.
William married Lily Lowe at St George's Church, Sutton, Macclesfield towards the end of 1914.
William attested at Macclesfield, joining the 7th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.
Following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshires, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then on to the island of Lemnos on the 4th August.
On the evening of 8th August, the Battalion arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and the following day landed at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay. Having landed, they came under shell fire at about 8.30am and so moved north along the edge of the bay; they then received orders to attack in the direction of a dip in the hills behind Anafarta Saghir.
At 8am on 10th August the Battalion was ordered to attack Hill 70. This was unsuccessful and the Battalion suffered severe losses. A second unsuccesssful attack took place at 5pm. By the end of the day, Sgt. Sparkes was missing and he was assumed to have died on 10th August 1915, but his death was not confirmed until October 1916. A report of his death was printed in the Macclesfield Times on 3 November 1916:
TERRITORIAL'S FATE: SERGT SPARKES' DEATH PRESUMED - We regret to state that Mrs Sparkes, 74 Hobson St, Macclesfield, has received an intimation stating that as no further news has been received of her husband, Sergt Wm Sparkes, of the Cheshire Regt, who was reported missing on August 10th 1915, the Army Council has concluded that he is dead, and death took place on 10th August 1915, or since.
Sergt Wm Sparkes was 30 years of age and a native of Macclesfield. He received his education at the Crompton Road Day School and attended St George's Church. Sergeant Sparkes was formerly employed at Bollin Mills. He had served in the local Territorials several years before the war commenced, and was called up on the outbreak of hostilities. He was at the landing at Suvla Bay and two days later was posted as missing. Sergt Sparkes had risen tot he rank of corporal on the outbreak of war, and was afterwards made sergeant. Shortly before leaving England he married Miss Lily Lowe, Sunderland Street, Macclesfield.
William's widow Lily married Henry Griffith in Macclesfield in 1919 and moved to Colehill, Wimborne, Dorset.
Sgt William Sparkes has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 76 to 78 on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sgt William Sparkes, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Sgt William Sparkes is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael's Church, Christ Church School and All Saints Church war memorials.
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.