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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle
Person Details
William Henry was the son of Frederick and Sarah Penford (née Thurman). His father Frederick was born in Ancaster, Lincolnshire, in 1851 (O/N/D Grantham), the son of Henry and Ann Penford (née Guy). He was baptised in Ancaster parish church on 5 October 1851. Frederick's father died in 1859 and in 1871 his widowed mother Ann was living with four of her children, including Frederick, on Newgate Lane, Mansfield. Frederick was a miller at Skerry Hill Mill, Mansfield, which he probably ran with one or more of his brothers. His mother Sarah Thurman was born in Nottingham in about 1853. Frederick Penford and Sarah Thurman were married at Mansfield St John the Evangelist on 12 July 1874 and had six children two of whom died in infancy or childhood. Five children have been traced, all were born in Mansfield: John b. 1875 (J/A/S Mansfield) bap. St John the Evangelist 14 September 1875 d. 1875 (J/A/S Mansfield); Mary b. 1877 bap Mansfield SS Peter & Paul 13 July 1879; Ann b. 1879 (O/N/D Mansfield) bap. SS Peter & Paul 22 February 1881; Harriet b. 1883 and William Henry b. 1888. In 1891 Frederick (39) a miller, and Sarah (37) were living at 39 Gladstone Street, Mansfield, with their four surviving children, Mary (14), Ann (11), Harriett (8) and William (3). Frenderick died in 1900 (A/M/J Nottingham) and in 1901 his widow was living at 5 Gladstone Street. All four of her children were in the home on the night of the census: Mary and Ann who were both runners-on hosiery, Harriet a hosiery mender and William who was still at school. William's three sisters married before the 1911 Census: Mary to John Henry Charlton in 1902, Ann to Henry Spencer in 1907 and Harriett to Richard Spering (or Sperring) in 1909 (married secondly William H Brown, 1920 J/A/S Mansfield). Sarah was still at 5 Gladstone Street in 1911. Also in the household were William, a framework knitter, and her two married daughters Harriett Spering and Mary Charlton together with Mary's husband John (37) and their daughters Doris (7), Hilda (6) and Edna (2). Sarah completed a form for the army in 1919 listing her son's surviving blood relatives. She was still living at 5 Gladstone Street with her daughter Harriett Spering and her two married daughters, Mary Charlton and Ann Spencer, were also living in Mansfield. Sarah Penford probably died in 1928 (J/F/M Mansfield.
In 1911 he was a framework knitter. He gave his occupation as hosiery hand when he attested in 1915.
28 Apr 1917
40869 - CWGC Website
5 Gladstone Street, Mansfield. Enlisted Mansfield
7th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of York's Own)
Formerly 23 Battery (Res) Royal Horse Artillery & Royal Field Artillery (Driver 45440). He attested in Mansfield on 10 September 1915 aged 27 and was posted to the Royal Horse Artillery/Royal Field Artillery but was not mobilized. William Henry applied to the Mansfield Tribunal in May 1916 for exemption which was refused. He transferred voluntarily to the East Yorkshire Regiment on 18 July 1916 and embarked for the BEF France on 1 December 1916. He was posted to the 6th Bn East Yorkshire Regiment at Etaples on 2 December but transferred to the 7th Bn on 13 December. On 25 April 1917 he suffered wounds to both arms and legs in a bomb explosion and died at No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station three days later on 28 April. William's service record has a detailed location of the Duisans Cemetery in which he was buried; it had only been selected as a cemetery site in February 1917. The cemetery was later renamed Duisans British Cemetery (grave ref. III. H. 1). William qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal. CWGC Duisans British Cemetery (extract): 'The area around Duisans was occupied by Commonwealth forces from March 1916, but it was not until February 1917 that the site of this cemetery was selected for the 8th Casualty Clearing Station. The first burials took place in March and from the beginning of April the cemetery grew very quickly, with burials being made from the 8th Casualty Clearing Station (until April 1918), the 19th (until March 1918), and the 41st (until July 1917).'
William Henry was related to John Victor Penford and Arthur Henry Penford who also died in the war. William's father, Frederick Penford, and John's father, John Penford, were brothers. Arthur's grandfather, Henry Penford, was brother to Frederick and John. John Victor Penford, 1st Bn Sherwood Foresters (10280 Private Victor Penford) killed in action 13 May 1915 (Blidworth St Mary memorial) Arthur Henry Penford, 1/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (305335 Lance Corporal) died of wounds 9 October 1918. (Mansfield St Mark memorial) CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'Prepare to follow me' Manfield Reporter, 5 May 1916:’Mansfield Tribumal. Widows’ Sons Before The Court. All the members of the Tribunal were present, the Mayor (Councillor T Smith) presiding at a sitting held on Wednesday night … Wm Hy. Penford, aged 25, 5, Gladstone-street, hosiery worker, asked for exemption on the ground of hardship as he was the support of his aged and inform mother. Refused.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) William made a weekly allotment of 5/6d (five shillings and six pence) to his widowed mother, Sarah. Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his mother Sarah was his legatee The following personal possession were returned to his mother in September 1917: ID disc, letters/photographs, wallet, cards, watch, nail scissors, notebook, pipe, crucifix, cigarette holder, ring, knife, purse, stamps and coins. Probate: Penford William Henry of Gladstone-street Mansfield Nottinghamshire died 28 May 1917 in France. Administration Nottingham 16 March [1937] to Harriett Brown (wife of Henry Brown) and Mary Charlton (wife of John Henry Charlton). Effects £71 6s. 3d.
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle
    William Henry Penford - Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France. Photograph Murray Biddle