George William Handforth was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on January 1, 1886. His father was a rent and debt collector and George had left school and was working as a solicitor’s clerk by the time he was 15. Ten years later, in 1911, he was working as a clerk in the Ashton-under-Lyne Education Office.
He was commissioned into the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant on June 28, 1913, after serving as a sergeant and promoted to Lieutenant on January 24, 1914.
He sailed with the battalion to Egypt and served with them through their training and preparations for action. He landed with the Battalion in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 assigned to B Company. He took over command of C Company in June 1915 after their terrible losses that month and was officially appointed temporary Captain on June 18, 1915 in recognition of this new responsibility. He was involved in the battle of Krithia Vineyard in August, commanding 100 men of C and D companies. Later that month he reported sick to hospital after suffering from ill health for some time. He was sufficiently recovered by September 9th to take command of 102 men going to the light training camp at Imbros. Nevertheless, he reported sick to Hospital in Lemnos 10 days later, (and relinquished his temporary rank of Captain). He spent 21 days in Hospital in Malta before being invalided to the UK on October 8, 1915. Back in the UK he was awarded two months sick leave which was extended by an additional month in December, finally being passed fit for general service in January 1916.
The next official mention of him is rejoining the Battalion in Egypt, from the UK, on March 23, 1916 where he was once again awarded the temporary rank of Captain. He sailed with the Battalion to France in March 1917 and in August 1917 he was promoted to Captain with precedence from June 1, 1916.
In France, he attended a course of instruction for Company Commanders at Montigny in April before proceeding to the UK for 11 days home leave, rejoining the Battalion in France on May 5, 1917. On June 26 he attended a school of instruction with the 3rd Army, rejoining the Battalion on August 2, 1917 after 37 days. He then spent almost two weeks sick in hospital from September 23rd to October 5th. 10 days after rejoining the Battalion he proceeded to leave in the UK for 12 days, returning on October 27, 1917. On February 20, 1918 he was transferred to the 1/7th Manchester Regiment and was struck off the strength of the Battalion.
After the war he became a Freemason and was initiated into the Fidelity Lodge at Ashton-under-Lyne on May 18, 1919. Also members of this lodge were Frederick Arthur Makin and Robert Gartside Wood, who had joined in 1915 and 1917 respectively.
He remained in the Territorials and on October 31, 1920 was awarded the Territorial Decoration for long service whilst holding the rank of provisional Major. He was confirmed in his rank of Major on January 27, 1925. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on January 28, 1926 and exactly 4 years later was appointed 9th Manchester Battalion Colonel. He was promoted to Colonel on January 28, 1932 with seniority backdated to his appointment as Battalion Colonel.
In April 1932 he married Dorothy Kershaw in Ashton-under-Lyne and on November 5th of the following year their first daughter, Pauline was born. Their second daughter, Susan Handforth was born in 1935.
By 1939 he was the Director of Education for Ashton and living on Mellor Road with his wife, two children and a domestic servant. He retired from the Territorial Army on January 1, 1943 retaining the rank of Colonel.
Colonel George William Handforth, T.D. died on May 22, 1955. He was 69 years old.