Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

William Ashton

William Ashton :

William Ashton : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

We don't know anything about William's early life, or what jobs he had when he was a civilian.

William joined the Special Reserve of the Manchester Regiment in May 1909. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion and given the service number 1267. This meant that William was not a soldier all the time, he had another job and did not live in barracks. Every year Special Reservists would be called up for training for around 4 weeks.

By 1913 William had reached the rank of Sergeant. He was attached to the Regular Army at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne between the 30th June and the 27th July 1913, alongside several other 3rd Battalion soldiers. One of these was Edward Lavelle, whose medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 William was living at 39 Lindsay Street in Stalybridge, which was then in Cheshire. He would have been mobilized, that is called into the Army full time, by an order issued on the 4th.

The 3rd Battalion was not intended to fight as a complete unit, it existed to train soldiers and send them to fight in other units. In peacetime it was based at the Depot and William would have trained with it there. On the outbreak of war the 3rd Battalion moved to Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire. This was so that it could also be used to protect the Humber estuary from a German attack.

William did not stay with the 3rd Battalion for very long, he arrived in France on the 25th January 1915. We don't know which unit he was assigned to during his early time in France.

William was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class II (WOII) on the 11th December 1916. His job in this rank was Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS). This involved making sure the soldiers in his battalion were kept supplied and equipped.

When he registered to vote in the General Election of December 1918 William was assigned to the 12th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. We don't know how long he spent with this unit but he must have been close to the soldiers he served with because after the war he joined the 12th Battalion Old Comrades Association (OCA).

Once he had been discharged from the Army William returned to Stalybridge. In 1924 he was living at Bohemian Cottages in the town. He later lived at 61 Stock's Lane and 38 Taylor Street.

William was one of the members of the 12th Battalion OCA who went on a tour of their old battlefields between the 9th and 12th July 1927. William must have enjoyed keeping in touch with his former comrades because by January 1929 he had become a life member of the Manchester Regiment OCA. We know he attended their annual dinner in January 1932.

The rest of William's life is a mystery. His medals were left to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1976.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council