William Blanton, DCM, Sgt 9140, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 11th April 1917 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 25
William Blanton was born on 27 July and baptised on 29 July 1891 at Audlem Parish Church, the son of Sarah and William Blanton, a labourer of Audlem, Cheshire. William had an older brother, John (born 1888), and three sisters: Lilian Linda (born c.1880), Sarah Ann (born c.1884), and Ann (born c.1894).
William was admitted to Audlem, St James Church of England Primary School on 20 May 1895; the family’s address at that time was Salford, Audlem. By 1901 William’s father had died and he was in Audlem workhouse. William and John were later sent to Macclesfield Industrial School.
William left the Industrial school in 1908 and on 6th June 1909 he joined the 2nd Cheshire Regiment with service number 9140. In his service records he was described as 5 feet 4½ inches tall, weighing 134 pounds with a 34½ inch chest. By 1911 William was serving with his battalion at Jubbulpore, in India.
The 2nd Cheshire Regiment was still at Jubbulpore, India, in August 1914. The Battalion returned to England in late 1914, landing at Devonport on 24 December. The battalion then came under the orders of the 84th Brigade, 28th Division, and landed at Le Havre on 17 January 1915.
William Blanton was awarded the DCM in 1915; the official citation, on page 6362 of the London Gazette dated 29 June 1915 was:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near Moolenacker Farm, in front of Ypres, on 21st February 1915, in going out to the rescue of a wounded man lying in the open. Being unable to move him, Private Blanton remained with the man until assistance arrived, during which time he was continuously fired on.
His award was reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 19 June 1915:
MACCLESFIELD INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL BOY GETS THE DCM
Private Wm Blanton, of the 2nd Cheshire Regiment (an old boy of the Macclesfield Industrial School) has been awarded the DCM for bringing in a wounded man under fire. Private Blanton joined the regiment in January, 1909, and at Christmas of the same year he spent a furlough at the school and again in November, 1910. Immediately afterwards he sailed with his regiment for India. He returned home from there and was sent to the front last Christmas. His brother John, who left the school in 1904 and who was with Mr Roberts, of Higher Fence Farm, for a few years, was also in the same regiment and has been killed in action.
Private W Blanton, who is wounded and in the Military Hospital at Barnstaple, writes to Mr W Swaine, Secretary of the Industrial School: “I expect you will be pleased to hear that I have been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. I received a letter from my regiment to say that my name had appeared in Brigade Orders for it. I got it for bringing in a wounded man to safety from between our trench and the Germans at Ypres. I went out yesterday for the first time for a motor drive, and I enjoyed it immensely. I am getting quite well now, and it won’t be long before I am discharged and back in the firing line again…”
William was reported wounded on 25th September 1915, and again on 26th February 1917. He was killed in action on 11th April 1917.
In Macclesfield, Sgt William Blanton is commemorated on the Industrial School war memorial.
Brother of John Blanton, who served as Private 9170, 2nd Cheshire Regiment and was killed in action in Belgium on 8 May 1915.
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St James Church, Audlem
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: St James Church of England Primary School, Audlem
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 19 June 1915
The London Gazette: 29 June 1915