Private Sam Rainford

Private. 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service no. 1646. also Labour Corps no. 252064.

A soldier in British army uniform wearing a cap and the badge of the West Riding Regiment.

Private Sam Rainford

Early life:

Sam was born in 1883 and his birth was registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year. His parents were Ben and Emma Rainford.
In 1891 he was 7 years of age and living at 4, Princess Street, Bingley with his parents and three younger brothers Thomas, Harry and Alfred. Their father Ben was a Warp Dresser.
On 14th December 1900 he enlisted with the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, West Riding Regiment when he would have been sixteen. He served for 10 years and 8 days until 22nd December 1910.
In the 1901 census he was aged 17 years and living at High Banks, East and West Morton with his parents and three brothers. His father was a cotton warp dresser and Sam was working as a wool warehouseman.
At the aged of 23 years in 1907, he married 21 year old Susie Pickles of Vale Farm, Oakworth, on 27th April at St. Mary's Church, Riddlesden. Susie's father was a farmer. Sam was working as a wool sorter and living at Ilkley Road, Riddlesden. In the same year their son Harry was born, registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year. Harry died aged 0 years - he may be the child referred to in the 1911 census as the one who had died.
On the 3rd April 1908 Sam enlisted with the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment at Haworth, Service no. 161. He was 24 years and 10 months old and he was employed as a woolsorter by Robert Clough. Address: 15, Dockroyd, Oakworth. In this year he attended Annual Territorial training at Redcar for one week between 26th July and 2nd August. Their son Thomas Green Rainford was born, registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year.
In 1909 their daughter Annie Rainford was born, registered in Keighley in the last quarter of the year.
In 1910 Sam Attended Annual Territorial training at Peel on the Isle of Man, for one week between 24th July and 31st July.
On 31st March 1911 he completed his service with the 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment which totalled 10 years and 88 days. (including serving with the 3rd Battalion between 14th December 1900 and 3rd April 1908).
In the 1911 census Sam was 27 years old and living (boarding) at 25, Sykes Head, Oakworth with his wife Susie and their son Thomas Green Rainford and daughter Annie Rainford. Sam was now working as a Mohair sorter.
Their son Alfred was also born in 1911, registered at Keighley in the second quarter of the year, but he is not mentioned in the 1911 census so he must have been born after the census date of 2nd April.
In 1912 their daughter Mary was born in the third quarter of the year, registered in Keighley.
In 1913 their daughter Ada was born in the last quarter of the year, registered in Keighley.

War service:

There are no Army service records available for Sam Rainford during the war, just from his early volunteer/territorial service mentioned above. He is listed in the Town Clerk's enlistments for 1914 and his address was given as 37, Vale Fold, Oakworth. Surprisingly he is not listed in Keighley's Gallant Sons, a record of early volunteers.
However we do know from medal records that he disembarked at Boulogne, France on 14th April 1915 with the 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment and is named on their nominal roll which was published in the book: 'Craven's Part in the Great War.'
At some point in his service he was transferred to the Labour Corps which perhaps indicates a medical downgrading due to a wound or an illness, which rendered him unfit for infantry duty.
In 1918 their daughter Hilda was born in the second quarter of the year.
Sam was discharged from the Labour Corps on 15th March 1919 but he was not retained in the Class Z reserve of able bodied men ready for immediate recall should hostilites be resumed after the armistice. Their daughter Hilda died aged around 14 months in July 1919 and was buried in Section A, Grave 15, Oakworth Cemetery on 23rd July.
Sam was in receipt of an Army disability pension of 40 shillings per week plus 4 shillings for his wife and 1 shilling and 6 pence per child, of which they had five at the time, until Hilda died.
The condition given on his pension card was 'D.A.H.' which means 'Disorderly Action of the Heart' and was quite a common ailment for soldiers, an indication of the extremely strenuous conditions in which they had served during the war.
He had been awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service and these would have been sent to him in 1920 or 1921.

Death and afterwards:

Sam died on the 15th February 1921 of tuberculosis of the lungs (no post mortem was carried out, indicating that his doctor was already aware of his condition) The address where he died was 19, Glendale Terrace, Horton (his parent's address in Bradford) and his mother Emma was present at the death which was registered in March, in Bradford. Sam was 38 years of age and was buried on 19th February, in the same grave as his daughter Hilda, at Oakworth Cemetery.

Sam is remembered on the Haworth War Memorial and the Lees, Cross Roads and Bocking War Memorial.

In the 1921 census his widow Susie was living at 37 Vale Fold in Oakworth with their children Tom aged 12, Annie aged 11, Afred aged 10, Mary aged 8 and Ada aged 7. Despite their young ages, Tom and Annie were working part time as worsted spinners at Vale Mills.

Susie remarried, in 1927 to Frederick C. Mayor. She died aged 82 years, around March 1968.

A wooden cross on a grave in Oakworth Cemetery. There are poppy wreaths on the grass in front and an Army cap is perched on the top of the cross.

Sam Rainford and Hilda Rainford's grave with the wooden cross placed there in 2015.


We considered applying for Sam to be commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but with the lack of any Army service record or Army pension record giving details of his possible medical downgrading, we could not find a causal link between his war service and his death. Tuberculosis was an occupational hazard for textile workers so it could equally be his employment which led to his untimely death.

In 2015 we held a ceremony to dedicate the new Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone for Herbert Moore of Oakworth, which is the adjoining grave to Sam Rainford and his daughter Hilda. At that time we made and installed a wooden cross for Sam Rainford, and some of his relatives attended the ceremony. The cross is from a design of the standard wooden cross used in the France and Flanders battlefields.

Source information:

England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
West Yorkshire, England, Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
1911 England Census
British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards
British Army Medal Rolls
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007
1921 Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005

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