There were two William Manfords from Bilston, born around the same year, who both served with the South Staffordshire Regiment. I have endeavoured to work out which facts relate to which man (the second one will be covered in the blog tomorrow):
William was born in Darlaston in 1897 (birth registered in Walsall), the son of William and Jane Manford. By 1911 they were living at 5 Smith Street, Bilston, along with William’s siblings Ellomey, Clarence, Alfred Charles, Marion and Harold. William attended St Luke’s School, and later sold newspapers for Mr Hammond, the Bilston agent of the Express & Star. At the age of 15 he joined the Army. At some point, his family moved to Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
On the outbreak of war, he was sent to France with the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment , but was wounded in the right leg in September 1914. He was invalided home, but returned to the front in November 1914. On 16 May 1915, he was wounded twice, in the head and in the right leg, and sent home to spend time in hospital in Glasgow. Although he was due to report back at his depot on 2 July 1915, he remained absent without leave until 29 July. The District Court Martial sentenced him to 56 days imprisonment. However, on the same date, his name appeared in the list of men who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the field, which led to him being released.
He received the medal for his actions on 16 May, the date he was wounded twice. The Midland Counties Express of 14 August 1915 states that
When the men of a machine fun had, with one exception, been killed or wounded, Private Manford went back twice, under very heavy shell fire, to carry up machine gun equipment left by them, although he was himself wounded. He was wounded again on the third journey, but by his efforts he enabled the gun to be brought into action
William appears to have survived the war, and died in Ellesmere Port in 1969.