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Company Sergeant Major Howard Horner


Harrogate Herald - 18th April 1917

Private A G Trowsdale says : 

I must apologise for not writing before to thank you for the Herald which I receive weekly, but we have had a fairly busy time and have only nine days ago finished an 80 mile route march, and on Easter Sunday we did an 11 miles march. When in the trenches the last time, about a month ago, in the regiment which relieved us I met Howard Horner. I think you will remember him - he was in the local "Terriers" before the war, and I think he is now CSM. He is the only Harrogate man I have met out here. What do you think to the war now? What with America coming in and the Germans retreating, I think things are bucking up, and I expect to be home in "civvies" for Xmas. I must close now, hoping you are A1, and again thanking you for the paper.


Harrogate Herald - 16th May 1917

W H Breare letter

You Harrogate lads, when at home, have doubtless noticed the flower sellers at the Sulphur Well and in James Street. You will probably know by sight Patsy Donovan's wife, who carried on quite a business in this line. You will also have seen a man assisting her. His name was J W Dixon. He enlisted in July, 1915. well, he is now a soldier, and has been attacked in the Front by trench feet. At first in hospital in France, he was next transferred to London. He arrived home on Wednesday at 3 o'clock, and immediately came to see me. He still has a bit of a limp, and doesn't look so very strong. Moreover, he is 46 years of age, so I should imagine that he is likely to be given a lighter job, possibly at home. With him out in France was Sergeant-Major Horner, Sergeant Cole, and Sergeant Jackson, all of whom he talked to me about. His leave is for ten days; after that he will probably have to report to his depot. I often wonder how these lads do who are discharged from hospital. You know, they get no pay whilst there; it is deferred, and they have to wait until it is sent to them. I questioned Dixon on this point, and found that he had not the ready cash. However, I was able to tide him over until he received his arrears of pay. Mind you, the man did not ask me for any assistance at all. I suspected how it would be, and drew the facts from him. Dixon is a single man and on his own resources. I hope he will soon get strong again, for, as you know, trench feet are troublesome things. It speaks well for him at this age he should have volunteered for service. I can assure you he had gone through a good deal, for I have seen the list of affairs that he has been in. I had forgotten that he had only just then come in by train, so when I asked him if Harrogate didn't look nice, he smiled and replied that he "hadn't seen much of it, so far". I hope he will see a good deal of it, and derive comfort and enjoyment from being at home, even for ten days.


Harrogate Herald - 23rd May 1917

Mrs Howard Horner, of 9 Newnham Terrace, Harrogate, has heard through a letter sent by Sgt Drummer Procter, that her husband, CSM Horner, has been killed in action. He leaves a family of three children.


Harrogate Herald - 20th June 1917

W H Breare letter

Sergeant Major Howard Horner, of the Beechwood Boys, is missing, and I should be glad if you lads could send me information regarding him. All we know, up to the present, is that private letters from comrades reported him slightly wounded in the wrist on the 3rd May. He did not want to leave the trenches, but his officer insisted. His friends next heard from the Red Cross, the War Office, and York that he was wounded. Nothing has been heard since. Whether he has been shifted from hospital to hospital or taken prisoner we do not know, but naturally his wife and friends and, indeed, all of us are anxious to hear something regarding him, and we are confidently hoping for the best.

I have had many friends of missing soldiers, especially those who were missing on the 3rd of may, to see if I could give them any help or encouragement. I am glad to say that I was able to send them away more cheerful than when they came and decidedly hopeful. I received this early news of the postcards having come from missing prisoner soldiers after seeing friends of Sergeant Major Horner. I hope the good news of missing men turning up as prisoners will bring still further comfort and hope to those who have not yet heard from their boys. in the case of Petch, the usual rumour came through by means of some boy's letter to friends suggesting that Petch had been killed. I hope all you boys will be very careful in sending any such information. It is best not to mention mere rumours or surmises. Say nothing if you do not have direct evidence. You see, though you may write to somebody in confidence, it is bound to get out, and it is whispered from ear to ear and it grows. The consequence is the relatives are anxious and distressed. I know how these rumours arise, and I am sure they are given in good faith. You are told that a boy is missing. Somebody else is likewise informed, and perhaps he will say, "I hope he is not killed". Well, that word killed sticks, and in passing from mouth to mouth it gradually becomes converted into a statement that such and such a boy has been killed. So you will be very careful in your letters, won't you, even in those to your most intimate friends?


Harrogate Herald - 4th July 1917

Roll of Honour

CSM Howard Horner (West Yorks), we regret to say, was officially reported killed in action on the 3rd May. He was the youngest son of James H Horner, of 22 Devonshire Place, Harrogate, and leaves a widow and three children, who reside at 9 Newnham Terrace, Harrogate. CSM Horner had a good record of service, having for the past 25 years been in the old Volunteers, the Territorials, and on active service, first joining in January, 1892, when the headquarters were St James' Hall. He was promoted to colour-sergeant in 1905 and later made CSM. He attended all, camps in connection with Volunteer training. He was with the Territorials in training at Scarborough when the war broke out, and signed on with many of his comrades for a certain period. At the expiration of this time he volunteered for further service, and went out with the Beechwood Boys in January last.

The following letter received by Mrs Howard Horner from Major Cross shows with what regard and esteem Company Sergeant Major Horner was held in : Dear Mrs Horner, As promised, I have been making enquiries regarding your husband, and the enclosed letter (which kindly return) has just come from Captain Heaton, who followed me as Adjutant. I am sadly afraid the worst has happened; over a month has gone by and the only evidence available confirms our worst fears. I need hardly say how deep my sympathy is for you and your children, and as you will, I hope, understand, this is much more than a mere expression of feeling. From early in 1900 to last year I had the privilege of being intimately and closely associated with your husband, and two men cannot soldier together for such a length of time without getting, as it were, an inside knowledge of each other. Your husband more than merited the regard and respect he was held in from the Commanding Officer to the last joined recruit. For the long period I was an officer in the company of which he was so great an ornament, I acknowledge with gratitude the unselfish help he gave to one and all, and especially to me his former company commander, and other officers who followed have on every possible occasion told me what a tower of strength he was. He knew his work, he helped everyone, he was unselfish in the extreme, he was patient and painstaking, never lost his temper, never used a foul word or expression, and always did far more than mere duty imposed on him. Such is the record of my old friend and comrade, Howard Horner. He was better than most and inferior to none. Any further information I can get I will see reaches you without delay. Again with much sympathy, yours very truly, E P Cross.


Harrogate Herald - 4th July 1917

W H Breare letter

I am sorry to hear official notice has been received, after a long interval of suspense, stating that CSM Howard Horner, son of James H Horner, joiner, High Harrogate, has been killed in action. you know how we all hoped, when news did not come from him, that he was a prisoner, or at least alive. There was no direct evidence to warrant us thinking that he had been killed - only rumours. Unhappily this notice is official. Horner leaves a wife and three children, with whom, I am sure, you will have the deepest sympathy. The wife has called to see me several times, and I know her so well Horner's death comes very close to me. She is a brave woman, however, and I am sure will take permanent comfort from the nobility of his passing. As for the dear children they must one day derive from their father's heroic death an inspiration and example which will carry them proudly through life.

I should not do justice to Sergeant-Major Horner's memory if I did not point out to you that for 25 years he was a member of the old Harrogate Volunteers, then the Territorials. At one time he had the opportunity of withdrawing from the service. This was after the war had commenced. He resolutely determined to stick to duty, and the proudest of records is his.


Harrogate Herald - 18th July 1917

W H Breare letter

I told you at the time that Private A G Trowsdale, HAC, was wounded. On Monday he came over to see me fresh from hospital. He got his wound on the 25th of April, and after an operation in France was transferred to Sheffield. In addition to his would he was suffering from trench fever, and then he developed diphtheria. After a sick furlough he will have to report to his depot in London. But he is not fit yet, though bright and able to get about. Trowsdale told me that the only Harrogate man he had met was Company Sergeant Major Howard Horner. It was one dark night about 12 o'clock that the Beechwood Boys came to relieve his lot. He shouted out to ask if there was a Harrogate lad amongst them, and Horner, recognising his voice, immediately replied. They had a chat, and, of course, much of their talk was of home. Trowsdale is the son of Mr Trowsdale, of Knaresborough Road. The three brothers are in the Army. Private Leslie Trowsdale is in the West Yorks; Private Obrey [Aubrey?] Trowsdale connected with the transports; Private A G Trowsdale is the youngest of the brothers. Before the war he worked for Mr R T Hodgson, ironmonger; in fact, had nearly served his apprenticeship.


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