Skip to main content
Twixt Branding

Return to search

Victor Milner

Date of birth: 1923
Date of death: 11.3.1943
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: Royal Navy
Family information: Husband of Isabella Patterson Milner
Rank: Able Seaman
Service number: C?JX 278870

War Service

Victor enlisted in the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman service number C/JX 278870 and joined the crew of the destroyer HMS Harvester.
On the morning of 11th March 1943 HMS Harvester (H-19) was in the North Atlantic under Cdr Arthur Andre Tait, DSO, RN, the flagship of the Escort Group B3, escorting convoy HX-228 picked up 51 survivors from the William C Gorgas which had been sunk by U-757 (U-boat Deetz). The destroyer then returned to the convoy and sighted U 444 (Langfeld).
The U-boat dived, but was forced to the surface by the following depth-charge attack and rammed by the Harvester at full speed. The destroyer was locked into the U-boat with a propeller shaft and both ships were unable to manoeuvre for a while. U-444 was able to creep away but was shortly afterwards sighted by the French Corvette Aconit (K58). Unable to dive, the U-boat was rammed for the second time and sunk.
The badly damaged HMS Harvester managed to get one engine running and tried to catch up with the convoy, but around noon her machinery broke down again. In this helpless situation she was hit by one torpedo from U-432 (Eckhardt) and a few minutes later by a second and sank almost immediately. The commander, seven officers, 136 ratings and 39 survivors from the W.C, Gorgas were lost.
The FFL Aconit (K58) returned to the scene and with depth charges, gunfire and ramming sank U-432. During the day, the corvette picked up four survivors from U-444, 20 survivors from U-432 and 60 survivors from the destroyer, including twelve survivors from William C Gorgas.
Victor Milner was amongst the ratings that perished that day and consequently was “lost at sea”.
His sacrifice is commemorated at the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Family Life

Victor’s connections with Brotherton can be traced back to the late 1700’s and his great-great grandparents John (born 1791) and Elizabeth (born 1796) Speed. Speeds were in Brotherton almost 100 years prior to this.
Their daughter Mary (1817 – 1885) married John Milner (1822 – 1885) and in turn their son George (born 1858) married Annie Cookson (b.1855) daughter of William (1831) and Frances (1830).
George and Annie had 11 children - Clara, Thomas, Joseph, George, Lilly, Frances, Mary Jane, Annie, Charles, John William (b 1886) and Alfred.
In 1871 the family were living in the High Street and George was employed as a ‘Willow Grower’s Labourer’. This was an occupation he pursued for at least 30 years and the willow was probably for the basket making trade. John William was similarly employed.
The family continued to live in Brotherton and by 1901 many of the children were still living with George and Annie. Annie’s mother Frances Cookson was also in the household having been widowed.
On March 26th 1921 John William married Annie Rebecca Kitchen in Holy Trinity Church, Idle near Bradford. It is not clear how they met. Annie had been employed as a ‘Worsted Spinner’ and already had a son called Harry born in 1917.
Annie was brought up near Shipley and her parents were Smith Russell Kitchen (b. 1855) and Alice nee Murgatroyd (1856).
Victor Milner was born on 1st April 1923.
Little else is known about the family until Victor was married in early 1943 to Isabella Patterson Brookbanks. Isabella was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1823 and again, there is no indication as to how they met. One theory is that Victor may have been in Dundee training as the town had important docks.
The parents of Isabella were George Simpson Brookbanks 1901 -1949) and Mary Helen Patterson Grant (1901 - 1950.)
The marriage was registered in Pontefract and the couple appear to have had a reception in the old school hall (now De Lacy Motor Club). A photograph reproduced earlier shows them standing outside the hall. Victor is obviously in Royal Navy uniform indicating that he had joined up prior to the wedding.
Later in the same year and after Victor’s death, their son – George Brookbanks Milner - was born but he died at the age of just 10 days. The only registration of a George Milner who was born 1943 and died the same year was registered in Hull for both events but it is not known if this was Victor’s son. A more likely explanation is that Isabella returned to Dundee after Victor’s death. In 1944 she remarried to George Beard but this did not last long as they divorced in 1946. Isabella subsequently remarried.
After the war, Annie Rebecca Kitchen died in 1957. Isabella died in 1999.

Chatham Naval Memorial Chatham Naval Memorial

Return to search