Harry Milnes (1888-1920)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


Harry Milnes was on the Absent Voters List for 1918 giving his address as 74a Lidget Street, with the same battalion as on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records but his service number as 4602. However the national Death Index records the death of Harry Milnes and gives the date above and gives an age of 43 years, which fit exactly with the occupant of the address in Lidget Street and other records. The A.V.L. may have been using an early Service Number given to Harry when he first enlisted.

Harry was born in late 1877 in Lindley. His father, William Henry Milnes, a quarryman, was a patient in the Infirmary on New North Road at the time of the 1881 census. He died in early 1882 at the age of only 36 and was buried in the Zion Chapel graveyard in the centre of Lindley on 8 February. This left his wife Ann to raise the five children: Tom (aged 9), Josh (7), May (5), Harry (4) and Jane, born in August 1880. In 1881 the family was living in Westgate Square off West Street, Lindley, an address long disappeared. Jane died in November 1882 at the age of two and was buried in the family plot in the Zion chapel graveyard alongside her father.

Harry, and probably the rest of the children, was educated at Oakes Board School.

Ten years later in 1891, the family were living at 81 East Street and Tom, the oldest child, was working as a teamer, that is looked after a team of horses, possibly in a mill or quarry. Joseph and Harry were "finishers" in cloth manufacture. Mary and Ann were not employed. In July, Ann took thirteen-year-old Harry along to the Sunday School held by the Zion Chapel in the purpose-built building on Lidget Street. He stayed a member for just over two years until he was deemed to have left after non-attendance.

Ann died in 1893 and was buried on the 11 November in the family plot at the Zion Chapel. She was forty-eight years old. The 1901 census saw Harry living with his sister, Mary and her new husband, Joe Dransfield and their four-month old son Jack, at 9 Occupation Road near the centre of Lindley. Joe was a "Healder and Twister" and Harry was a "Railway Servant", which meant he was employed in some capacity by a railway company, probably as a labourer or, in light of his later occupation, working with horses, perhaps delivering freight brought into town by train.

Neither the railway job, nor the accommodation, seemed to have lasted. He may have had to move when his sister's family increased: by 1911 they had seven children and were living in a three-roomed house in Outlane. Harry was then living at the Warren House Inn and farm on Lindley Moor Road as a "Servant" of the Inn Keeper, Louisa Dyson, whose grandson, Douglas Ackroyd, died serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1918, and in 1911 lived next door.

"Servant" seems to have meant farm worker as Harry gave an alternative occupation of "Teamer on Farm", which may mean he worked with horses on the farmland that went with the inn. One imagines that on his days off he walked along Lindley Moor Road to Outlane to visit Mary and his nephews and nieces.

Harry was thirty-seven years old when the war broke out. At this time he was living Lea Green, Holywell Green. He did not enlist with the throng of younger men but seems to have waited to be conscripted and joined the army on 28 March 1916 when he was taken in to the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, where he was given an initial four-figure number and began his training. The 2/7th Battalion was on Salisbury Plain until June 1916 when it moved to Halesworth in the Midlands, and in October to Bedford.

We don't precisely when Harry joined the battalion but it is safe to assume he was with them when they embarked for France in January 1917. By June of 1918, no doubt after suffering significant casualties in the German Spring Offensive, its reduced numbers were returned to England and absorbed into the newly-formed 29th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry. In July the battalion went back to France.

Harry's medal Roll Index Card gives no indication that he joined the D.L.I. and he was deemed to have been in the Dukes 2/7th Battalion when he was discharged after the end of the war, 13 March 1919. The Silver War Badge Records say that Harry was discharged because of his wounds so he had presumably spent some time between the autumn of 1918 and his discharge, in hospital.

Harry went to live at 74a Lidget Street in the heart of the village, an address he shared with another soldier Albert Rider, who was at that time in India. Harry was probably lodging with the Rider family.

What we do know is that Harry died on 12 September 1920 some seventeen months after leaving the Army. He was deemed by the War Graves Commission to have died while serving and warrant inclusion on their its list; this may mean he died as a consequence of injury or illness sustained while in the army. It may mean he was still on reserve lists though there is no evidence of this.

Harry was buried in the family plot in the Zion Chapel graveyard in the heart of the village where he had lived all his life, the same grave where his father, mother and little sister, Jane, were interred. When the graveyard was surveyed in 1985 no stone for the Milnes was recorded and none is visible among those surviving along the side of the wall. It is possible they never had a stone - they were never very well-off. That said, Harry left a will, probably as a consequence of being a soldier. He had an estate of £54 5d, and his sister Mary Dransfield was granted the right to administer the will.

Harry is remembered on the memorial in Edgerton Cemetery as well as in St. Stephen's.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

MILNES, HARRY. Private. No 306997. 2/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Born Lindley 15.7.1888. Educated Oakes Board School. Employed as a labourer. At the time of enlistment, was living at Lea Green, Holywell Green, Halifax. Single. Enlisted 28.3.1916. Wounded at Bullecourt on 17.4.1917. Died of wounds at No 74a Lidget Street, Lindley, on 12.9.1920. Buried EDGERTON CEMETERY, HUDDERSFIELD. Grave location:- Screen Wall.
ROH:- St. Stephen's Church, Lindley; Huddersfield Drill Hall.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission