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William was born in Wolverhampton in 1894, the son of Thomas and Mary Jane Selvey-Clinton. By 1911, they were living at 104 Wanderers Avenue, Wolverhampton, and William was an articled pupil to a surveyor. He became an assistant valuer in the Land Valuation Office at Wolverhampton.

On 4 September 1914, William enlisted in the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 240511). In the summer of 1915, he was wounded, but recovered and remained on active service. The Express & Star dated 13 November 1916 announced that he had been awarded the Military Medal. On 5 November 1918, he had an accident, which is reported in his service records. William states,

Whilst engaged in digging Trenches at Coddington I slipped entirely due to the state of the ground. On falling I caught my Right Knee on a shovel.”

There were also two witness statements corroborating his account. He was eventually demonilised on 24 February 1919.

William survived the war. He married Ada Barratt in Wolverhampton in 1922, and they had a son, Peter, a year later. William died in Bromley, Kent, on 31 December 1949, at the age of 55, and he left effects to the value of £214 8s.