King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Millner, William

Captain ▪ 5th Battalion

William Millner, born on 24th June 1877, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1889. His father, Henry, was a licensed victualler, and the family lived at the Dartmouth Hotel on Holyhead Road, Wednesbury. William had two brothers, John and Henry, the latter of whom was also an Old Edwardian, and four sisters.

At School, William studied in the Modern School (which offered a curriculum that emphasised scientific rather than classical subjects), and proved to be exceptional at drawing, winning a prize for perspective drawing at Speech Day in 1892. For most other subjects, William was placed in the middle of his class. After School, according to the 1901 Census, William became an architect and surveyor. However, the later 1911 Census reveals that he had changed careers to become a wine and spirit merchant and was living on Wrottesley Road, Tettenhall, with his wife Ethelwyn and their three daughters, as well as a nurse and a servant.

At some point before the war, William joined the South Staffordshire Regiment and soon proved to be an excellent marksman. In July 1914, as a Lieutenant, he was chosen to represent Britain in the Empire Shield in Australia, regularly achieving scores of 95/100 at 300 and 600 yards, one of the best in the country at the time. The team was due to leave Liverpool for Adelaide on 10th August, with the competitions scheduled for September, but war intervened. Folded back into the 5th Battalion as a Captain in October, William arrived in France in March 1915. At some point between then and May, he was engaged sniping from a ruined farm building, but on his way back to the trenches he was hit by a stray bullet, which deflected off his cap badge and ran along his scalp. Fortunately, this wound was not serious, but it kept him in hospital for a few weeks.

William was killed during the assault on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13th October 1915. Having advanced in the wake of the North Staffordshire’s failed attack, William’s Company was caught by enfilade machine-gun fire, which killed and wounded many. William himself was wounded, but while a Private was attempting to dress his wounds, a German shell landed nearby, killing both men. The assault on the redoubt continued all day, to no avail. William is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, and he left his estate of £4,088 to his father.