Date of death: 16.4.1918
Regiment: West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales’s Own)
Family information: Husband of Hilda nee Farrar
Service number: 306467
William is said to have enlisted in Leeds and was Corporal 306467 in the 1st/7th Battalion in the Prince of Wales’ Own West Yorkshire Regiment. This Battalion, which was nicknamed the Leeds Rifles, served at the Front from April 1915 right up until the end of the war as part of the 49th (1st West Riding) Infantry Division.
I did find a record online that reported that a Corporal William Milner had been hit by a gas shell on 24th July 1917 and had been treated for one day at 91st Field Ambulance, No 23 Ambulance Train. There was a note added “Can be put forward as an eligible candidate to be awarded a wound stripe”. It also noted that he was a Primitive Methodist. The record did, however, have his regimental number as 306476 and his battalion as the 1st/5th but men did get moved between battalions as they suffered losses and the number could have been a typing error.
On 12th April 1918 they moved to Wytchaete where things were fairly quiet until at 4.30am on 16th April when the war diary reports “Heavy enemy barrage opened and the enemy ATTACKED”. No casualty figures are given but William was recorded elsewhere as killed in action on 16th April 1918 and the record on the Ancestry website states his birthplace as Kirkhamgate. His name is inscribed on the Wrenthorpe Colliery Memorial and he is also remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
His disappearance was announced in the Wakefield Express:
“CORPORAL WILLIE MILNER West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles) is officially reported missing since April 16th. He home is at Kirkhamgate and he formally worked at Newton Colliery.”
In the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects his next of kin was listed as his widow Hilda. I found a record for the marriage of William Milner to Hilda Farrar at St Anne’s Church on 14th February 1914. William was 19 and a teamer who lived in Kirkhamgate (a teamer was someone who led a team of horses, oxen or mules to carry goods). His father William had been a miner but was deceased. In 1911 there was a William Milner boarding in Kirkhamgate with greengrocer Robert Eason. He was 16 and a pipe painter in the iron foundry, however it does say he was born in Bradford so it may or may not be the same William.