Private Horace Isles 15/1784

Private Horace Isles

Killed In Action. 1st July 1916 at Serre,Somme, France.

Horace’s Father, William Iles, had served under Lord Roberts (Bobs) in the 2nd Afghan War and William had talked often of his soldiering and Victorian army life. This may have given young Horace the incentive to take the 'Kings Shilling'. Leaving School at 13, he worked for a short while as a blacksmith’s striker at Pawsons St. Marks Road, Woodhouse. This work filled out his tall frame and by the age of 14 he looked much older than is age. He moved from Pawsons to Dennis & Co, North Lane, Leeds, to train as a painter and decorator. Then when the War started and the Pals arrived on Woodhouse Moor with their recruiting tram, Horace added a few years on to his age. He was accepted as a new recruit and sent to Colsterdale for training and in Early 1916 to France. Wounded in a German barrage of the trenches on 22nd of May, he was hospitalised in France then given 7 days home leave.
This was the last time his family saw him. Arriving back at the front in time for the 'Big push', he was killed alongside many of his Pals shortly after 7.30am on the 1st of July 1916.

His family didn’t learn of his fate until about the 11th and then only when a letter his sister Florrie had written to him on the 9th of July was returned unopened marked 'KILLED IN ACTION'. In the letter, she chastises Horace for not telling his true age when enlisting. An exact transcript of Florrie's letter follows:-

The words found in the letter on this page were written by his Sister, Florrie.
(Nothing has been changed or added)

Leeds Pals Recruitment Tram

My Dear Horace,

Just a line or two to thank you very much for the card which mother gave me yesterday it is very pretty. I am so glad you are alright so far but I need not tell you what an anxious time I am having on your account, You have dropped in for the thick of it and no mistake, I only hope you have the good luck to come back safely like your Father did, and my dear boy I don’t care how soon, I should be more than pleased to see you I can tell you.

You have no need to feel ashamed that you joined the Pals now, for by all accounts they have rendered a good account of themselves. No one can call them “Feather bed soldiers” now. I think Barrons boss as got him off so he will feel a bit easier if it is so. He has not told me himself so I am not sure, but I think it must be right. Bob has not heard yet but he is expecting to hear any day now. We did hear that they were fetching all back from France under 19. For goodness sake Horace tell them how old you are, I am sure they will send you back if they know you are only 16. You have seen quite enough now just chuck it up and try to get back. You won't fare no worse for it. If you don’t do it now you will come back in bits and we want the whole of you. I don’t suppose you can do any letter writing now but just remember I am always thinking of you and hoping for your safe return, So no more this time only my love, Bob says hurry up and come back.

Your loving sister Florrie


Ps. Did you know Roy Mason had been wounded, Shot in the leg, He is now in Manchester Hospital.

Young Horace had attended Emmanuel Church,Woodhouse Lane and in the Parish magazine for August 1916 Gives the following obituary:

Horace Isles

Pte Horace Iles of the Leeds Pals was killed on July 1st. He had been a regular scholar and choir boy of our Sunday School. He joined the Army over a year ago though he was but 16 years of age in January last but his build and strength would easily pass him for a lad of 18. Eager to join, he refused to be dissuaded and his letters showed how congenial his preparation was to him. He was a soldiers son and evidently was a soldier born.

Mrs Iles has as yet received no official information beyond the official notice.

The Yorkshire Evening Post of 24th July 1916 States:

Private Horace Iles, Leeds Pals who was only 16 and a half years old, Was killed in action on July 1st. He belonged to B company, and was the son of the late(Died 1913) Mr and Mrs Iles of 7,Spenceley Place,Woodhouse Lane, Leeds.

His late father William had served throughout the
Afghanistan campaign.

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