Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

William Griffin

William Griffin :

William Griffin : (L to R) Egypt Medal; Khedive's Star

(L to R) Egypt Medal; Khedive's Star

William was born in around 1860 in Manchester. His mother was called Sarah and he was a Roman Catholic, but we don't know anything else about his family or early life.

By 1879 William worked as a labourer. He had also joined the 6th Royal Lancashire Militia. This unit was made up of men who trained as soldiers for a short period every year and lived as civilians the rest of the time.

William must have taken to Army life because on the 25th June he travelled to nearby Ashton-under-Lyne and enlisted in the Regular Army Infantry for General Service. This meant William could be sent to join a regiment chosen by the Army, rather than choosing one himself. He was assigned to the 16th Brigade, made up of the 63rd and the 96th Regiments of Foot, and given the service number 2271.

When he enlisted William was 5 feet 6 3/4 inches tall and weighed 137 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He had a 4 inch scar on his left thigh that had been caused by a burn.

William joined the 96th Regiment in Manchester. They then moved to Aldershot in Hampshire, where William obtained the 4th Class Army Certificate of Education on the 23rd August 1880. They were sent to Malta on the 11th March 1881. On the 1st July the 96th Regiment was renamed the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

During 1881 William spent some time in hospital. We don't know why he needed 10 days treatment during May, but between the 5th and the 19th October he was suffering from colic. On the 22nd March 1882 William was hospitalised again. He had an ulcer on his leg that required over 3 weeks of treatment.

In August 1882 William went to war in Egypt. The Anglo-Egyptian War had broken out in June after the pro-British Khedive was deposed. Britain wanted to protect its commercial investments in Egypt, as well as the Suez Canal, which gave access to India.

The 2nd Battalion sailed to Alexandria aboard HMS Euphrates, and arrived on the 17th August. The war ended in September with the British restoring the Khedive to power, but having much more control over the country. William left Egypt on the 13th October for Multan in what is now Pakistan, again aboard HMS Euphrates.

On the 31st December William began to receive an extra 1 penny (1d) per day Good Conduct Pay. William stayed with the 2nd Battalion in Multan until they moved to Rawalpindi at some point between March and September 1885. We don't know much about what he did during his time in India, although he did spend some time in hospital.

During October 1883 William was treated for a bronchial infection brought on by the cold weather. He had a rather different condition in May 1884; he needed 38 days treatment for syphilis. During October he was laid low for a week with a fever.

Although the 2nd Battalion had moved to Rawalpindi William was sent back to Multan the next time he needed hospital treatment. They are around 500 miles apart so we don't know why this was the case. He suffered from a fever twice, during September and October 1885, needing 5 days treatment on each occasion.

William's Good Conduct Pay was increased to 2d per day on the 24th June. His time in India ended on the 16th October 1885, and he was returned to the UK.

William had enlisted for 6 years in the Regular Army, to be followed by 6 years in the Army Reserve. He was transferred to the Reserve on the 24th December 1885 after 6 years and 184 days. His character was considered 'Very Good'.

As a Reservist William could find a home and a job, but could be called back to the Army in an emergency. He told the Army he intended to live at 20 Ashley Lane in Manchester. We don't know what work he found.

William was never called up and his Reserve service ended on the 23rd June 1891. He must not have wanted to break his connection with the Army though, because on the 15th July he joined the Class D, or Supplemental Reserve. This allowed him to continue as a Reservist for another 4 years.

William would not complete this service. He died of bronchial pneumonia at the Manchester Workhouse on the 2nd April 1895, aged 35. He had been working as a general labourer and lived on Montague Street in Manchester. We don't believe he had ever married or had children.

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
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council