Horace Waller VC

A Dewsbury Great.  

One of a select group of individuals born, bred or living in Dewsbury who have made their mark on their town and country. The Dewsbury Greats have featured in various exhibitions and publications since they were first researched and published in 1992.

VC awarded to World War 1 hero who was determined to join up

photo of Horace Waller VC

Pte Waller in his army uniform - he was 21 when he was killed

IT was on the afternoon of April 10th 1917 that one of Dewsbury’s bravest sons, 21-year-old Horace Waller, gave his life for his country.

He had only been in the war four months when he was mortally wounded by machine gun fire.

Private Waller, who was killed on the battlefields of France while defending an important army position,
was awarded the Victoria Cross — the highest honour a monarch can bestow.

A letter to his parents from his commanding officer tells of his outstanding courage and describes him as "the bravest boy I ever knew".

The letter reads: "Words cannot describe the glorious fight he and his comrades made in certainly the most violent hand-to-hand fighting I have ever witnessed,  

Attack

"For an hour and a half in the first counter attack he stood and bombed and finally won.

"In the second and more violent attack he still held his post for an hour, fighting for half an hour after being wounded until finally hit.

The letter reads: "Words cannot describe the glorious fight he and his comrades made in certainly the most violent hand-to-hand fighting I have ever witnessed,  

Attack

"For an hour and a half in the first counter attack he stood and bombed and finally won.

"In the second and more violent attack he still held his post for an hour, fighting for half an hour after being wounded until finally hit.

"I think the bravest boy I ever knew is this son of yours. Many of my company are gone, but the loss of none goes more to my heart than the loss of Horace

"My colonel has endorsed my recommendation for the VC. But rewards are only a tithe of the gratification you can feel for having produced so fine, so courageous, so British a man "

Private Waller, who was unmarried, had wanted to join the army at the outset of war. but twice failed his medical.

At his third attempt he "scraped” through as a Class C man and Joined the Kind's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry regiment.

In December 1916 he went to France and was killed four months later.

Years after his parents died. Horace's medal was sold privately at Sotheby's in London, and is believed to be in a private collector's museum in America.


FOR seventy years the two neighbouring towns of Batley and Dewsbury claimed that Private Horace Waller belonged to them.

For he was born on the boundary of both towns in a small terraced house in Batley Carr near his father’s plumbing business.

His name appears on both the Dewsbury and Batley war memorials.

But his birth certificate, obtained from Dewsbury Register Office, shows that he was in fact a Dewsbury boy. He was born on September 23 1896 at II Woodhill Terrace. Batley Carr, in the sub district of Dewsbury.

His first school was Miss Whitworth's Seminary. Albert Terrace, Halifax Road. Dewsbury, but he later won a free scholarship to Batley Grammar School.

He left school at 17 to help in the family plumbing business, known as Strickland, Waller and Sons, and continued his studies at Dewsbury Technical College.

Later his family moved to Healds Road. Dewsbury.

Medal sold

HORACE WALLER came from a quiet, respectable family and has few living relatives.

One of them his nephew and namesake, Mr Horace Waller, a Dewsbury accountant, remembers the large framed photo graph of Horace which hung in the front room of his grandparents’ home in Healds Road.
Dewsbury.

*‘I believe the family gave it to his old regiment some years ago.” he said.

“It all happened before I was born. but my father, his brother, often talked about him.”

Mr Waller, who has no children to carry' on the family name, remembers seeing Horace's medal

“I know it was sold but I don't know where."


photo of cemetery memorial stone in Dewsbury cemetery forHorace Waller

Although Pte Waller was buried in France, his name is engraved on the family grave in Dewsbury cemetery, alongside that of his father, John, and his mother, Esther.


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