Photograph of Wilfred in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: Acc3318
(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Wilfred was born on the 7th January 1897 in Leigh, Lancashire. His father was called Alexander and his mother was called Harriett. His older brother was Alexander, and his medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection. They also had an older brother, Herbert, who died between April and June 1894, aged 7.
Alexander senior worked as a cotton warehouseman, and the family lived at various addresses in Leigh. In 1891 they were at 15 Princess Street, in 1901 at 206 Bridgewater Street, and in 1911 at 194 Bridgewater Street. By then Wilfred was working as an assistant domestic gardener.
By the time the First World War broke out in August 1914 the family lived at the Navigation Inn, on nearby Mather Lane. Alexander senior was the landlord.
The First World War broke out in August 1914, and Wilfred joined the Army on the 16th December. He was given the service number 43844, and assigned to the 16th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This service number was issued during August or September 1916, so it would seem that Wilfred served in another unit before transferring to the 16th Battalion to go overseas. We don't know which.
Wilfred fought with the 16th Battalion during the Battle of Arras. On St George's Day, the 23rd April 1917 he was (in the words of his son) 'gassed, blown up and wounded'. He was evacuated to the UK for treatment.
After recovering Wilfred was assigned to York Military College as a Drill Instructor. He had been promoted to Lance Corporal by the end of the war. He spent more than 12 but less than 24 months overseas during the war. We know this because when he was discharged he had been awarded one 'blue' Overseas Chevron. This was awarded for 12 month's service overseas. He would have been awarded a second after 24 months.
Wilfred was disembodied on the 5th March 1919 and returned to civilian life. His father died on the 15th March 1924, at which time both Alexander and Wilfred were working as corn dealers.
Wilfred married Margaret Dunn between October and December 1921 in Leigh. They had at least 2 children: Alexander between July and September 1925 and Olive between April and June 1930.
Wilfred died in Leigh between July and September 1982. He was 85 years old. Margaret died in 1987.
Alexander and Wilfred's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1997.