Horace Milton Wheater (1895-1917)

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.


Horace Milton Wheater was the foster son of Ben and Alice Pilling of Benroyd Terrace, Holywell Green and is remembered in Lindley on the memorial at Salendine Nook Baptist Church. He was born in Bradford in the late spring of 1895.

It has proved impossible to establish the exact background of Horace but he did have a brother, Ralph, he identified in his army papers and was given as his only blood relative. Ralph was born in Bradford in 1893 and was living in Holywell Green by 1921, not far from Alice Pilling.

The house at Benroyd Terrace had only four rooms but in 1911 Benjamin and Alice aged 67 and 64 respectively, gave a home to their son and daughter in their 40s, a teenage grandson as well as Ralph and Horace Wheater, described as "Lodgers". All were said to have been born in Halifax.

Ralph worked as a worsted twister and Horace as a piecer. Ben Pilling described himself as a farmer; his children and grandson were a dyer's labourer, a boot maker and a weaver.

Horace seems to have put himself forward for military service 12 February 1916 and at this time worked at Dempster's Rose Mount Ironworks in Elland. However, he was not actually mobilised until January 1917, almost a year after his attestation.

At his medical, held in Bradford, on 23 January 1917, Horace was said to be 5' 6½" tall, with a chest measurement of 36½" and of "good physical development". His occupation was given as "iron and steel labourer" and his eyesight good.

Horace was taken into the 9th Training Reserve Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment and sent to Rugley Camp on Cannock Chase in the midlands, the following day.

Three months later, on 13 April 1917 he was sent to France arriving at the large base camp at Etaples on the 14th. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment on the 30 April, in the Pas-de-Calais. Two weeks later, on 13 May Horace was killed along with his friend Private George Thorpe, who worked with him at Dempster's and was on his first day in the trenches. Both deaths were reported in the Halifax Courier on 5 July.

Horace was buried in the Philosophe Cemetery at Mazingarbe, near Lens, which now contains over 1700 casualties.

The form completed by Alice Pilling in May 1920[1] lists Ralph as Horace's only blood relative. Alice identifies herself as "step mother" and was named as his legatee to whom any payments due should be sent. She also received his few possessions: some letters and photos, a wallet and diary and a postcard.[2]

As well as being remembered at Salendine Nook, Horace is also remembered at the Blackley Baptist Church, St. Andrew's, Stainland, on a bronze plaque at the Rose Mount Iron Works on the Huddersfield Road, Elland and at the Jagger Green Baptist Sunday School War Memorial, Holywell Green along with Fred Jackson, another man listed at Salendine Nook.

Alice died in December 1923. Ralph died in 1965.

Notes and References

  1. Ben died soon after, in June 1920.
  2. There seems to be no way Alice could have actually been Horace's step-mother; she may have made an error in what were, after all, difficult circumstances.