Occupation: Apprentice machine took maker, Parkinsons, Shipley
Rank: L Cpl
Rolls of Honour: Baildon
Regiment: Royal Engineers
John Alexander Val Midgley
We are fortunate to have a number of articles from the Shipley Times & Express, starting with the report of Val’s death published on 29 October 1915.L Cpl J A Val Midgley, RE, son of Mr John Midgley of 2 East Parade Baildon, has been killed in action. He was 20 years of age and was formerly employed at Parkinson’s Engineering Works, Shipley.He joined the army last August and went to the Front in February. He only received his promotion two days before being killed.In one of his last letters he commented upon the fact that during the last few days several newly made lance corporals had been ‘picked off’ by the Germans. It is presumed that the deceased met his death while working between the trenches putting up barbed-wire fencing.InventiveThe chaplain with the regiment in a letter conveyed the sad news to the lad’s parents. L Cpl Midgley had a large circle of friends and numerous letters of condolence have ben read from people in various parts of the country. The deceased was interested in geology and antiquities and has written several articles on engineering subjects for the American Machinist and Machinery. He was of very inventive turn of mind and had several small
improvements accepted by his employers. In fact a few days before his death he noticed a little device on a French washing machine and he was so much struck with it that he sent it on for the consideration of friends at home. He was always of a studious turn of mind and for some time before the war had been diligently studying under the International Correspondence School.On 17 December 1915, the newspaper published a number of tributes to the dead soldier:In a letter written last week, Sapper J Parsons, a comrade of the late L Cpl Midgley refers to the deceased soldier as follows:“Val’s character was without a blemish. I and Val being bed chums we got along splendidly together. We used to chaff and joke and it would make the work all the easier.“I will tell you about the night Val was shot. We walked up together to load the waggons with sandbag. The Germans were making a counter-attack; the noise was terrible to hear.“We got through the village then the noise seemed to finish so we were congratulating ourselves on having a quiet time going up the
road just behind the trenches and, in fact, it was a quiet night, just a few bullet flying around“We were walking about two deep behind the waggons and Val turned partly around to speak to a fellow behind when we heard a crunching noise and Val seemed to drop to his knees and said ‘I am hit.’Good spirits“We bound him up and carried him into the trench off the road to dug-out, a dressing station. He was in good spirits.“Subsequently he passed away. I have seen a lot of poor fellows killed but none touched me like poor Val’s death. I congratulate you on having such a worthy son, a soldier and a man.”Mr Ernest Parkinson, Canal Iron Works, Shipley, with whom L Cpl Midgley was apprenticed, in a letter of condolence wrote as follows:“Your son would certainly have made his mark and he was one of the smartest and most intelligent boys we have had and I am sure, from what I saw of him, that he was an equally good son.“I know that this will make your loss seem the greater but I venture to hope that the recollection of so many good qualities will bring some consolation.
“I assure you that all here who knew your son, share your sorrow and my wife, who has read your letter, asks me to convey her sympathy along with mine”CheeryLieut H G Eady, R.E. writing to L Cpl Midgley’s father, says:“Your son had been under my command for a long time and was my personal orderly through several battles.“He was always cheery through the very worst of times and nothing seemed to worry him in the way of bullets or shells.“He had been made an N.C.O. the day before he was wounded and all officers who had come into contact with him expected him to go far.”The final reference comes on 15 March 1918 when Val is mentioned in an article about the death of his father:Mr J Midgley of 5 East Parade, became ill before going to business in Bradford on Tuesday morning and died shortly afterwards.Mr Midgley belonged to an old Baildon family and for many years he had been actively connected with the Theosophical societies in the district.The younger of his two sons, L Cpl J V Midgley, Royal Engineers, was killed in France over two years ago and the eldest son, Sgt W Midgley, serving with a Canadian battalion, has been missing since 18th November last.