11364 Sergeant William Willows

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3/11364 Sergeant William Willows, Duke of Wellington's, (West Riding) Regiment.

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette of 17 April 1918.

The citation reads, "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. As battalion signalling sergeant he remained continuously on duty the whole time, in which active operations were in progress, working under heavy shell fire, in order to ensure that communications were maintained. He has shown continuous devotion to duty, and as never failed to maintain the same high standard of efficiency throughout the operations".

"William Willows" was serving under this assumed name but was born William Godfrey Clayton at Washingborough, Lincolnshire on the 18 March 1884. He enlisted under the assumed name of William Willows at Keighley, Yorkshire on the 19 April 1901 and was given the number 6698. Although only 17 years of age at this time he claimed to be 18 years and 1 month of age, a plate layer of Kildwick, Keighley, Yorkshire the son of Mr. George Willows of the Friendly Inn at Stanbury, Near Keighley, Yorkshire.

William, aged 17, plate layer, is described as the son of George and Francis Willows on the 1901 census.

He served with the regiment until 15 February 1905 at which time he purchased his discharge on the payment of £25. The money was furnished by a Mrs. Francis Willows of 60, Beverley Road, Colne, Lancashire.

William Godfrey Clayton married Jane Fenwick in 1905 and became the coffee tavern manager at Colne Railway Station where he is found to be living on the 1911 census.

William re-enlisted circa September 1914, again under the assumed name of Willows and embarked for France with his battalion on the 29 September 1915. He was disembodied to the "Z" Reserve on the 15 February 1919.

Photo and information by courtesy of Dennis Pigrum of Melbourne, Australia; grandson of William Godfrey Clayton.