Gunner Lewis Edward Ainley, "D" Bty. 312th Bde. Royal Field Artillery. Service No: 785975.
Previous regiment: R.F.A. 312 (West Riding Territorial) Brigade. Service no. 8210.
Lewis Ainley was born at Cragg Vale in Mytholmroyd very early in 1897 to parents Albert and Ann Ainley and his birth was registered at Todmorden. His father was a bread baker.
In 1901 they were living at 43, Devonshire Street West in Keighley and he had one brother and one sister and they even had a servant, who was a cook. His mother died in 1907 and his father remarried the same year about six months later. By 1911 they had moved to 158, Fell Lane and Lewis was fourteen years old and working as a baker, presumably alongside his father. The family now comprised three sons and three daughters although Frank the eldest son had moved out.
Lewis attested with the Army at Keighley in June, 1915 but did not go out to the front until January 1917. He was killed in action on March 6, 1917 and buried in a battlefield grave site known as
Triangle Cemetery, half a mile North East of the Petit-Miraumont village on the road to Pys. This was a German cemetery containing 181 graves of German soldiers and eight soldiers from the UK.
Keighley News Saturday April 7, 1917: TRIBUTE TO A KEIGHLEY GUNNER.
A letter paying tribute to the late Gunner Lewis Edward Ainley, of the R.F.A., second son of Mr and Mrs Albert Ainley, of 134, Fell Lane, Keighley whose death was recorded in our columns last week,
has been received from Maurice Clark, a Horsforth soldier home on leave. Writing on March 20, he said: "Although I had only known your son a very short time, I shall ever remember his beautiful quiet way and gentlemanly behaviour, and every man in the battery realised with a terrible shock what a dear friend they had lost... Since losing my dear brother I have felt that he is nearer to me in death than he ever was in life, and the thought of his looking over me helps me to strive for all that is best and good." Aged 20 years, Gunner Ainley enlisted in June, 1915, and only went out to the front in January last. For twelve months he had acted as officer's servant. Before enlistment he assisted his father in the bakery business.
His grave was later exhumed along with several others to Queen's Cemetery, Bucquoy by the 117th Labour Company on July 11, 1919 to grave 2, row D, plot I of Queen's Cemetery, Bucquoy. He was just 20 years of age. The family inscription on his war grave headstone reads: "HE FINALLY PASSED OUT OF THE SIGHT OF MEN BY THE PATH OF DUTY."
His father as next-of-kin received his back pay and the war gratuity and probably his personal effects and his medals, plus his Great War memorial plaque and King's certificate.
He is remembered locally in Keighley's Great War roll of honour in Keighley Library, on St Andrew's Church WW1 Memorial Board and is also named on the Great War Memorial at All Saints Church, Highfield and on the Fell Lane Wesleyan Sunday School Boys war memorial, which is in the care of Cliffe Castle Museum at Keighley.