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Harold Victor Ashford was born in 1898 to parents Thomas Baker Ashford and Caroline Ashford (nee Payne). By the 1901 census, the family were living at 79 Newhampton Road West. Harold was the youngest child, and was listed together with his brothers Ernest T. (17), Arthur (14), and Charles (13), and his sisters Eveline E. (18) and Ellen (15). Thomas Ashford, originally from Leeds, was a Filesmith (foreman). By the 1911 census, the family had moved to 89 Newhampton Road West. Harold’s mother had been widowed by this point, and the remaining children living at the house were Ellen, Arthur, Charles and Harold.

Harold’s medal card states that he was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, regiment number 189738. No further records are available regarding his war record, but he appears to have survived as (according to Freebmd) a Harold V. Ashford died in Wolverhampton in 1961, aged 64. There is no record of him ever marrying.

However, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding this name. According to the Newhampton Road Wesleyan Church Roll of Honour (compiled in 1919), a Harold Ashford enlisted in October 1914 in the 1/6th South Staffordshire Regiment and was killed in action in April 1916. The Wolverhampton Roll of Honour also records the death of a man by this name in the 1/6th South Staffs. But neither the Commonwealth War Graves Commission nor the medal cards at the National Archives have any records for a Harold Ashford in this Regiment. Indeed, there is not even any “H. Ashford” who died in that month, according to the CWGC. Similarly there do not appear to be any records of any other local births of boys by that name. Perhaps he was missing (presumed dead) for a while after the end of the War? We will keep digging and try to find out more…

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