Joseph William Manley, recorded on the Ancestry Censuses as William, was born in Mold, and his birth was registered in the third quarter of 1873. He was the son of Edward and Arabella Manley.
The parents can be found in the 1861 and 1871 censuses living in Mold with eldest son Price and several other children. Joseph William was the youngest child.
In the 1881 census for Wales, we find the family living at Alyn Terrace, Mold. Edward is described as a 55 year old labourer, Arabella was 52, and the eldest son Price was a 27 year old coachman. The other children were Mary, age 11, John 9, and William, age 7, these three were described as Scholars.
In 1891 the family was still at Alyn Terrace. Edward was a 67 year old cab driver, and our soldier William was now 15. Everyone had been born in Mold.
By 1901, still at Alyn Terrace, the only ones at home were Arabella, now 73 and a widow, and William who was 22 and a groom. In fact he was 28 years old. The ages shown are often erratic. William and his mother spoke both Welsh and English.
Ancestry records show the deaths of Edward in 1900, and Arabella in 1912.
William’s service records have not survived, but there is an entry for him in the UK Army Register of Soldier’s Effects (in which the army calculated what moneys were owed to deceased soldiers), accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk William’s brother Price, the sole legatee, received a sum of £12 8s 3d on November 24th 1916, and a War gratuity of £24 on September 24th 1919. This source also states that William died at Epsom War Hospital of “Tuberculum”.
UK Soldiers who Died in the Great war 1914-19, also on Ancestry, confirms the military details as above and adds that he died of wounds at home (in this country).
In conclusion, he either died of wounds or TB or both. His body was transported to Mold for burial. He was 42. (The North Wales Chronicle of the 26th May 1916, published a very long list of RWF Casualties. This list of names included a wounded JW Manley (Mold) 16153. The regimental number is not exactly right but the chances are, it is him).
William had enlisted in Mold and according to his Medal index card on Ancestry, his first theatre of war was France and he had entered it on the 27th September 1915. The 10th (Service Bn) RWF was raised at Wrexham on October 16th 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third New Army, and joined the 76th Brigade. They moved to Codford St Mary for training and spent the winter in billets at Bournemouth. They moved to Romsey on April 29th 1915 and then to Aldershot for final training. They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on September 27th 1915. (Wartime Memories Project, 10thBn RWF) We know that William must have experienced most, if not all of these events before landing in France with his battalion on that same day.
Also, “in December 1915 the battalion was involved at St Eloi in the Ypres Salient, and in the middle of June 1916 they went out of the line and started a circuitous march to the Somme.”(RWF Regimental History)
At what point he was invalided home, we do not know.
For William to have been involved so early in the war tells us he was almost certainly someone with previous military experience either as a part time Territorial or as a regular soldier. Perhaps this explains why he can’t be found on the 1911 census.