Hull Pals Memorial Post. LANCE CORPORAL WILLIAM MILNER 12/302.
Born in July 1897, William was the fourth of five children to Edward and Hannah Eliza Milner of 4 Granville Terrace, Strickland Street, Hull. Before the war he worked for Horner’s sawmill’s on Madeley street, Hull. His regimental number tells us he enlisted in the autumn on 1914 aged just 17, but he must have proved himself a leader of men to have risen to Lance Corporal while still in his teens.
William was killed in action on 25th February 1917. The 12 Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Hull Pals, was in the front line opposite Serre when information that the Germans had evacuated the village reached headquarters. A patrol was sent out. The weather was dreadful, impossibly cold. So cold the band’s instruments had frozen, while they were being played just a few days before. Out into that cold went a small band of men to survey the ground in front of them.
They were met with what the official records describe as ‘considerable opposition’, and during the ensuing firefight William, as well as Private Martin Duggan (Day 1399) was killed, with a further four wounded and one missing. Seems the Germans hadn’t quite left Serre after all. His commanding Officers described how Milner, got his Lewis gun into a good position and returned fire. However, he was wounded in the shoulder, he was shot through the head by a sniper and died instantly. (Hull Daily Mail, 31/03/1917)
William Milner is buried in Sailly-Au-Bois Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. He was 19 years old.
His step brother, Private, George Milner, 12th EYR, was killed on 13/11/1916. Another brother, Arthur Milner, was killed fighting with the Canadians.