Corporal William MILLWARD

101st Canadian Light Infantry
(Saskatchewan Regiment)
28th (North-West) Battalion
Service Number:
Date of Death:
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:

Personal History:
William was born on the 9th June 1889, at "Washbrook", Burbage, Buxton, the son of Joseph Bernard (Foreman - wood yard) and Phoebe (née Williamson) Millward. The 1891 Census (RG 12/2779) shows that he already had older siblings, Mary Alice, Joseph, Sarah Ann and Phoebe Elizabeth, and a one-month old brother, Charles Matthew. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3270) William was living at 122 Green Lane, Buxton, with his younger siblings, Charles, James, Henry W., Albert E. and Priscilla.

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21237) Joseph and Phoebe were at the same address with children, Phoebe, Henry, Priscilla, Percy and Mable. William was possibly boarding with the Walters family at 57 Aketon Road, Cutsyke, Castleford, Yorkshire, working as a 'Coal Miner'. (Census RG 14/27494)

William left for Quebec aboard the 'Empire of Britain' on the 2nd March 1913, and listed his occupation as 'Farmer'. At the time of his enlistment he was living at the King's Hotel, Winnipeg, and at that time also gave his occupation as "Farmer", confirming his parents' address as 122 Green Lane, Burbage, Buxton. He also confirmed that he was still unmarried.

Three of William's brothers also served, one was killed, another reported missing - see Footnote below.

Military History:
William's Attestation Papers indicate that he enlisted in Winnipeg, Canada on the 12th January 1916. His 28th Battalion went overseas from Canada to Britain as part of the 'Second Contingent' in June of 1915. There it joined 6th Brigade, 2nd Division of the Canadian Corps.

The real history of the 28th may be said to have begun with the fighting for the craters of St. Eloi. 3rd April 1916, marked the long-drawn-out struggle against an enemy already in possession of every possible advantage in men, in artillery, in machine guns, and in reconnoitring facilities. However, it is unlikely William would have joined his Battalion by then.

In the "STORY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH (NORTH-WEST) BATTALION 1914 - 1917" by G E. Hewitt, the Battle is described as follows:


Up to the end of May, 1916, the fortunes of the Battalion had fluctuated, for though they had suffered severely in October, 1915, through the enemy's mining activities at Kemmel, their part in the St. Eloi engagement was attended with comparatively light casualties. In their next action, however, the battle of Hooge, on June 6, they suffered even worse losses than those sustained by the other battalions of the Brigade in April. Two companies, "A" and "B" were all but wiped out--the former being victims of more German mines, while the latter came under one of the most terrific enemy bombardments of the war. The 6th was the blackest day in the history of the unit, and while the casualties in the ranks were exceptionally high, some of the noblest and most experienced officers were lost. These included Captains Milne and McGovern, of "A" Company, both killed.

The Germans attacked in overwhelming force and carried the Canadian line, despite a most gallant and heroic resistance during which the Battalion machine gunners inflicted heavy losses upon the advancing masses until they were finally surrounded, overcome, and taken prisoners."

Casualties were indeed "exceptionally high". 158 Officers and men of the 28th Battalion were killed in action on the 6th June 1916. All but 11 have no known grave and are Commemorated, with William, on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

On the 30th June 1916 'The Buxton Advertiser' reported: "Intimation has been received by Mrs Millward, of 122 Green Lane, that her eldest son, William, has been wounded. He joined the Forces in Canada and was serving with the 40th Bn. of Canadians in France. Captain Stephenson writes to say that Pte. Millward was wounded in the back by shrapnel, and hope the next news will be good.

Mrs Millward has four sons serving, two have been missing many months and now a third has been wounded. The toll of War falls heavily on many Burbage homes." [see Footnote below]

The date of William's wounds is not known, but it would seem likely it occured in action early in June. William returned to the action and a year later was wounded again. On the 22nd July 1917 'The Buxton Advertiser' reported the death of his brother James, but added:

Mrs Millward has just been informed that her eldest son, Pte. W Millward, serving in France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, has been wounded a second time, this time in the right leg by a shell.

The Chaplain writes: 'I learned from your boy how much anxiety you have had and I am indeed sorry for you. You must be thankful this brave boy of yours has come through without much more serious injury, in view of where he has been, and I trust your other brave boy may yet be found.'

The inhabitants of Burbage tender deep sympathy to Mrs Millward and family in their great anxiety."

It seems very ironic that the Chaplain's comments about James arrived at the same time as confirmation of his death.

It is clear, however, that William's wounds did not prove fatal. The only "William Millward" recorded by both the CWGC and the Canadian War Project to be killed in action was Pt. 74211 William S. Millward, who came from Glamorgan, and died on the 6th June 1916. He is commemorated on Panel 28 of the Menin Gate Memorial.

The 1921 Census of Canada has a William Millward, aged 35, with a date of birth corresponding to William's. He was married to Mary, aged 36 and they had an 11 year old son, Jackson. The family was living at 110 McCaul Strett, Toronto and William recorded his occupation as ‘Soldier’. The Census also notes that he emigrated in 1907, which again coincides with the date given on his Attestation Papers seeking a discharged from the Manchesters to join the Canadian R.G.A.

William Millward returned to Buxton from Canada in October 1921 aboard the ‘Empress of France’, disembarking at Liverpool with his wife, Mary, and son, Jackson. In the occupation section it states: "Vulcaniser" and for intended country of residence William states: "England".

The England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007, has a record for William - same date of birth - dying in Buxton in the September quarter 1969, aged 80 years. It would seem that for some reason the names of two of the Millward brothers ended up being included among the War Dead of Buxton.

Three of William's brothers saw action during the Great War:

· Leading Stoker Harry MILLWARD went missing from his ship on 1st November 1916, when serving
   as a Stoker on HMS Carnarvon. His name also appears on the Memorial.

·  Pt. James MILLWARD was killed on 24th March 1917, serving with the Essex Regiment.

· A third brother AB Albert Edward MILLWARD served on HMS Collossus at The Battle of Jutland, under
   the command of Admiral Jellicoe. [see photo right]

· The Buxton Advertiser - 30 June and 22 July 1917
· I am grateful to Val Stenson for details of William's immigration to England from Canada.

Cpl. William Millward
Cpl. William Millward's name on the Buxton Memorial