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Claude William Straford was born in Meredith, Victoria, was single and a State school teacher when he enlisted with the 39th Battalion, D Company on 1 March 1916 at the age of 23. His unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 27 May 1916. In November 1916 he proceeded overseas to France from Southampton. He was appointed the rank of Temporary Sergeant, but fell ill and was hospitalised due to appendicitis. He was transferred to No. 26 General Hospital in Etaples until October 1917 where he recovered enough to re-join his Battalion in the field. In November 1917 received a full promotion to Sergeant.
In September 1918 he was wounded in action with a gunshot wound to the right leg resulting in a fracture to the tibia and fibula, and was again invalided to the UK. He returned to Australia 23 March 1919. According to a dispatch dated 17 October 1919 he was awarded the Military medal for bravery in the field.
Tree No. 2189