William Greenwood

Medals awarded

  • Distinguished Service Order
  • Member of the Order of the British Empire
  • Military Cross
  • 1914-15 Star
  • Victory Medal
    MID oak leaf
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Italy Star 1943-45
  • Defence Medal 1939-45
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • War Merit Cross (Italy)

Born in May 1895, William Foster Greenwood (front row, right) was one of the generation of men, who by accident of birth, served in both the First and Second World Wars.

He was made a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion on 22 September 1914 and was present at, amongst others, the Battles of Loos, Somme and Messines. During this time, ‘Foster’ was awarded the DSO for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of a raiding party. The main body losing direction, he penetrated the enemy’s position with two men. He cleared out a number of dugouts and shelters, killing all who resisted and eventually returned with 12 prisoners. By his personal initiative and daring he prevented the raid being a failure and achieved a partial success”.

He also served in the operations in Italy, as a result of which he was awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra. After being wounded in October 1918 he went to the Rhine in February 1919 as second-in-command of the 51st Battalion (Welch Battalion) until its disbandment.

In the Second World War, he again served in Italy and Sardinia, being awarded an O.B.E. and Mentioned in Despatches. The Gazette records “his quick and incisive speech bore witness to his determination, decisiveness and forthright character… He had little time for the hesitant and indecisive but he was a staunch ‘fighting friend’.”

‘Foster’ had married Sarah Esther Lander in 1922. He died in Durban, South Africa, 1968.

Greenwood’s DSO has been separated from the rest of his medal group so is not in the museum collection. If you have any knowledge of it, please get in touch with the museum as we would love to reunite the full group.