Menu ☰
Liverpool Pals header
Search Pals

Search
Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916


CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916


Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916


Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916


Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Sgt 15961 Walter Joseph Miles


  • Age: 20
  • From: Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 17th Btn
  • K.I.A Tuesday 11th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.

Walter Joseph Miles was born in 1895 in Liverpool son of James Lord Miles and his wife Mary Ann (nee Venables). His parents married on 04th September 1894 at the Parish Church, Kerry, Montgomeryshire.

In 1901 the family were living at 58 Newcombe Street, off Breck Road, Everton. His father, James L. is 34 years of age and is a stationer’s manager born in Liverpool, whilst his mother, Mary Ann is 37 years of age and was born in Kerry, Montgomeryshire. They live with their two sons, Walter, 5 years and Gerald Lord, 2 years, both born Liverpool.

In 1911 the family had moved to 52 Russian Drive, Stoneycroft. Father James L. is now 46 and still a stationer’s assistant, mother Mary Ann is 47 years of age. They have been married for 16 years and have had five children four of whom have survived. Those listed are;  Walter 15 and at school, Gerald Lord 12 at school, Molly Venables 7 at school, and James 4 years.

Walter enlisted in the 17th Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment at St George's Hall in Liverpool on 02nd September 1914 as Private 15961. He gave his age as 19 years and his occupation as bank clerk. He was described as being 5' 8" tall, weight 151lbs, with a 38" chest, he had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He stated that he had previously served with the Officers Training Corps (OTC). This suggests that he had attended one of the local Grammar Schools and there is a record that on 27th September 1907, Walter Miles, born 19.09.1896 transferred from Lister Drive Council School to Liverpool Institute.

He was billeted at Prescot Watch Factory from 14th September 1914, he trained there and also at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 17th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. 


On 26th October 1914 he was promoted to Corporal; on 31st March 1915 to Lance Sergeant; and on 06th May 1915 to Sergeant.

On 7th November 1915 he embarked with the 17th Battalion to France and his service record shows that in February 1916 he had problems with an injury to his left foot (possibly trench foot) and was admitted to 98th and then 3rd Field Ambulance before returning to his unit on 21st February. On 26th February he had further foot problems and was treated in 22nd CCS and 1 General Hospital until 12th May 1916, when he again returned to his unit on 12th May 1916. He was granted leave from 21st to 30th May 1916 and then rejoined his unit. 

In July 1916 he was posted as missing in action on 10th/11th at Trones Wood during the first few days of the Battle of the Somme. The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916. The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II. 

"The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was a Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible".

In mid-July 1916, his father sent a telegram saying “I have heard privately that my son, 15961 Sgt Miles, D Company, 17 King’s Regiment, has been killed - is this correct?”

The official reply on 22nd July was that “no notification of his death has been received”. 

On 23rd July, Walter’s father wrote to the military saying that his son’s death” is reported to us in letters from boys to their parents but we have no word. It is now 12 days since it happened. Is there any chance of it being incorrectly reported? Fatal cases should not be so long in being officially intimated. Many instances have occurred in my own experience of parents being notified within 2 or 3 days by telegraph. I cannot understand the difference in my case. Is your office responsible or are the notices issued by the War Office? Excuse the abruptness of anxious parents. An early reply will greatly oblige”. 

His family posted notice of his death in the Liverpool Echo on 27th July 1916

"Sergeant W. J. Miles, eldest son of Mr and Mrs J. L. Miles, 52 Russian Drive, Stoneycroft, Liverpool, was killed in action. In a letter to the parents his Colonel says:- "Your son was killed in Trones Wood. As some slight consolation I may tell you that he was a very gallant man and died splendidly. I would also like you to know that this battalion was the first battalion in the British Army to succeed in entering Trones Wood and establishing itself there, and remaining there. Your son was one of the principal leaders in this enterprise. I wish to offer my sincerest sympathy, he was one of my best non-commissioned officers and I miss him." Sergeant Miles was in his 21st year and was educated at the Liverpool Institute. He commenced his commercial life in the Liverpool Education offices, but after a few months transferred to the Union Bank of Manchester. At the outbreak of war and on the formation of the "Pals" and he "joined up." Previous training in the Institute O.T.C. caused his immediate inclusion in the N.C.O. ranks. He was enthusiastic in sport. West Derby Cricket Club and Balmoral Football Club claimed and approved his services. He was at one time a member of Edge Lane Swimming Club. His younger brother Gerald is serving in France with the Royal Engineers.[Dvr 90511 R.E]"

As was often the case when there was no apparent eyewitness account available to the Military Command, there was a reluctance to announce deaths too readily and the Casualty List for 7th September 1916 still shows him as “Missing”. It was some weeks later before they accepted that Walter had been killed on 10th or 11th July, using the latter date for official purposes.

Walter has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

 

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. 

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.” 

His family remembered Walter on the first anniversary of his death when they placed a notice in the Liverpool Daily Post 11th July 1917

MILES - In fond remembrance of Sergeant Walter J. Miles (1st Pals), killed in action, Trones Wood, July 11, 1916, aged 20 years. - 52 Russian Drive, Stoneycroft, Liverpool. 

Soldiers Effects to father James L., Pension to mother Mary Ann 

Walter’s family placed a memorial stone in his memory at Anfield Cemetery

           IN MEMORY

                    OF

SGT WALTER JOSEPH MILES

17th BATT. K.L.R. (1st PALS)

 KILLED IN ACTION

TRONES WOOD, FRANCE

11TH JULY 19

IN HIS 21st YEAR

ELDEST SON OF J.L. & M.A. MILES

STONEYCROFT 

Walter is commemorated on the Liverpool Institute Memorial now housed in the Liverpool Institute for Perfoming Arts.  

 

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old