Boy soldier Harry face of 100th anniversary commemoration

Pte Harry Manders
Pte Harry Manders

A boy soldier – the youngest from Burnley to be killed in the First World War – is to be the face of the town’s 100th anniversary commemoration.

Burnley Borough Council is trying to find the descendants of Harry Manders, who was just 16 years old when he was killed in action in 1916, serving with the 5th Shropshire Light Infantry.

Organisers of the council’s First World War commemorations have chosen Harry as the basis for presentations to schools on the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

They want to contact Harry’s family to help build a picture of the teenager and his continuing links with the town. “We know his family was still in Burnley in 2008 and we’re hoping they are still here,” said Mike Townend, senior curator at Towneley Hall. “It would be wonderful if we could contact them so we can explain more about how we’re using Harry’s story to bring this historic milestone to life.

“The fact that Harry wasn’t much older than the pupils we’re talking to when he died serving his country will have a real impact on them I’m sure.”

Harry was the son of George, a railway passenger guard, and Sarah Manders of 15 Newcastle Street.

He attended Pickup Croft school and joined up as a private when he was just 15. Before then he worked as a weaver at Brierley’s Calder Vale Mill.

Harry was killed as he tried to rescue a wounded comrade, under rifle and machinegun fire from the enemy. He helped two other stretcher bearers carry the wounded solider back to the trenches but was shot as they got there.

Harry’s name is remembered on the war memorial at St Peter’s Church where the teenager was a Boy Scout.

Members of Harry’s family, or anyone who knows their whereabouts, can contact Mr Townend at Towneley Hall on 01282 424213 or email him at mtownend@burnley.gov.uk.