Harry Ashford was born in Sidford, Devon, on 2nd June 1880, the oldest of seven children to Samuel and Fanny Ashford. Samuel was a mason and Fanny worked as a lace worker managing this at the same time as raising her children. The family left Devon in the late 1880s, settling instead in Chard, Somerset.
After initially working as an errand boy, when Harry finished school he found employment as a house painter. He had met lace worker Ada Hancock by this point, and the couple married in Chard’s Methodist Church on 4th May 1901. The couple set up home in the same road as Harry’s parents, and went on to have a daughter, Nora, the following year.
By this point, storm clouds were brewing over Europe, however, and Harry felt the need to play his part. On 22nd September 1915, at the age of 35, he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps. His service record show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall and was of good physical development.
Private Ashford serve on the Home Front, and was based at the Tweseldown Camp near Farnham, Surrey. He served there for a little over a year before he contracted nephritis – inflamed kidneys – and was admitted to hospital. Sadly, the condition proved too severe and he died on 31st October 1916 from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 37 years of age.
Harry Ashford’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the cemetery of his adopted home town, Chard.
Both of Harry’s parents passed away not long after he died – Samuel in 1919 and Fanny in 1920. Ada never remarried, and lived a reasonable life, passing away in Nottinghamshire in the autumn of 1932, at the age of 53 years old.