Organisations/clubs: Eccleshill Congregational Church, St John’s Amublance
Rolls of Honour: Eccleshill Park & St Luke’s
Regiment: Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Wilfred Howcroft was born in 1884 the second of four children of of Alfred and Annie Elizabeth, nee Dixon.The moved from Wortley to Eccleshill sometime before 1896 when their fourth child, Sarah, was born.In 1901 they were living at 33 Holdsworth Square. Alfred was working as a cloth finisher and 16-year-old Wilfred was working in a wool warehouse.In 1911 Wilfred married Elizabeth Horne who had been born in Bradford in 1882 and they went to live at 14 Mount Road, Eccleshill. Their only child, Mary, was born in 1914.Wilfred was a prominent worker connected with Eccleshill Congregational Church and School, being the secretary of the Sunday School and a member of the Chapel choir. He was a medallist of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade and a former secretary of the gymnasium.For eight years he was the assistant
librarian at the Eccleshill public library and up to enlisting was the manager of the mending department at Tunwell Mills.In 1916, Wilfred and Elizabeth moved to 15 Moorwell Place.*On 10 November 1916 the Shipley Times & Express published a story of Wilfred’s send off to war.On Saturday morning Mr Wilfred Howcroft, manager of the mending department at Tunwell Mills, was presented with an air pillow, cooking pan and safety razor, which had been subscribed for by the workers associated with him.Mrs Schofield, pastor, handed over the gifts and expressed the good wishes of the department for the best of luck and a safe and speedy return. Mr Howcroft commences military duties on Saturday. Wilfred enlisted as Private 31968 in the South Staffordshire Regiment but at some point transferred to the 9th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as Private 56103.
This Battalion was involved in all the major battles in 1917 and 1918 and Wilfred saw a great deal of action.The Battalion took part in the Final Advance in Flanders 28th September to the 11th of November 1918. Wilfred was badly wounded on the 20th of October and had his right leg amputated above the knee. Elizabeth went to France to see him but he died from sepsis on the 5th of November 1918 in the 3rd General Hospital in France. He was 34 years of age.The Shipley Times & Express reported: “By the death of Pte Wilfred Howcroft, Eccleshill Congregational Church and school have lost a prominent and devoted worker.“He had served in France 21 months with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and on 20th October his right knee was so terribly shattered by a shell that it was found necessary to amputate it.
“Everything possible was done by doctors and nurses to save his life but he passed away on 5th November, aged 34.“For several years prior to enlisting he was secretary of the Congregational school, a member of the chapel choir, a medalist of the St John Ambulance Brigade an a former secretary of the Gymnasium.“For eight years he held the position of assistant librarian at the Eccleshill Free Library and at the time of enlisting was the manager of the mending department at Tunwell Mills.“He leaves a wife and a child.”He is buried at the Mont Huon Military Cemetery used by the three General Hospitals in the town of Le Treport.He left his effects to his widow Elizabeth who received £17.7.11d which included his War Gratuity of £11.0.0d on the 5th June 1919.
. Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks*Thanks also to Emma Heal for passing on the information about Wilfred & Elizabeth moving to Moorwell Place which she found in Beryl Hartley’s RANDOM JOTTINGS, Moorwell Place, Eccleshill, a record of its buildings and residents