Lance Sergeant 250653 William James Gafney  DCM

William James Gafney was born on 24 February 1890 at Kennington, London to William Edward Gafney, a railway labourer from Clare, Cork, Ireland and Jessie Elizabeth Limitt from Gr Holland, Essex.

William's father died in 1899 when the family moved in with his mothers parents at Gt Holland where she met and married Samuel Admans and the family moved to Cooks Green Little Clacton.

On 10 November 1914 William enlisted and joined the 5th Essex as Private 2932 , later renumbered 250653, where he completed his training in time to join his regiment on 22 July 1915 when it sailed on the Grampian from Devenport for Gallipoli where he took part in the campaign until December 1915 when he was evacuated with the rest of the 5th Essex on the Marathon to Alexandria.

In January 1916 , William was promoted to Acting Corporal but in May he was reverted to Private in consequence of his reporting for a parade dressed in his vest rather than tunic. His demotion lasted only a month before he was made a Lance Corporal.

On 3 June 1916 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and reverted to the rank of Private at his own request. The medal was awarded in recognition of his consipicous gallantry when he volunteered to act as a stretcher bearer and brought in wounded men under scrapnel fire.

On 12 July 1916 he was mentioned in despatches of Sir Charles Munro for distinguished and gallant services over a long period.

William spent two weeks in Hospital in December 1916 with influenza and shortly afterwards was promoted to acting corporal. In April 1917 he suffered from a gunshot wound to the head but was quickly back to duty at which point his was substantiated and then was promoted to Lance Sergeant which was quickly changed to Acting Sergeant to cover for an injured Sergeant.

 On 7 November 1917 he received a serious injury with a gun shot wound in his neck and throat which saw him admitted to hospital and then convalescence until April 1918 when he returned to the Battalion but he clearly had not recovered as he was returned to hospital in June 1918 with aphonia, a throat condition, keeping him away from the front for another month. Two months later he was back in hospital this time with Pyrexia and then influenza which saw him going to Cairo for treatment and then onto Port Said where he was de mobbed..

In 1919 when he left the army ,William married Ethel Young and began work as a builders labourer. In 1939 he and Ethel were living at Churchfield Road, Frinton until he died in 1953 at the age of 63.