Little is known of his youth other than he attended elementary schooling at the Highgate School, and then went into farming for a living . But with the Great War going on, Harry went to London Ontario, some 120 Kms North East and filled out the papers to join the army. He declared at the signing on 1 December 1915 that he was 24 1/2 years old, was single and working as a farmer.
Pte Harry Miner would start his initial enrollment with the 142nd Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Four months later he would be transferred from the 142nd to the 161st Infantry Battalion where he would stay for several months and no doubt get his basic training before being shipped off to England, and later to Europe.
While with the 161st, service life must have agreed with him as he was promoted to the Acting rank of Lance Corporal. On either 30 October or 1 November Miner boarded a sailing vessel with 748 other men and 28 officers all wearing the same cap badge and set sail for London England. Many would never see the shores of Canada again. They arrived on the 11th of November... two years to the day before the Armistice ended the war on the Western Front.
The troops were immediately sent off to Shorncliffe and with a re-amalgamation of units they were then assigned to the 4th Battalion. On the 25th the records show that he asked to be demoted back to Private. This often happened in the war and again in WW11 when you were changing trades or units, or when you were pushing to get out of England and to the war front. (It happened to both my parents in that later war.) It seems to have worked for Miner because he'd be in France within days and back as a private. And very soon after this he was in a hospital at Havre France for about 12 days for unknown reasons. By this time he was then serving with the 58th also known in those days as the Royal Grenadiers. (This unit is still in existence to day at Toronto and is now known as the Royal Regiment of Canada, a reserve army unit.)
By March of 1918 Miner would be wearing the rank of a Lance Corporal again, and in just another two months he would be promoted to Corporal. The story seems fuzzy in 1917 and some say he was awarded a Croix de Guerre for actions near Lens while other say that medal was awarded for actions on 8 August 1918 which saw bravery resulting in a later award of the Victoria Cross. His unit was in Lens but a London Gazette reference cannot be found despite to different citations saying where it is.
The Allies were meeting heavy resistance as they were on the move westward towards Amiens, and in the area of Demuin, Cpl Miner's outfit had already lost its sergeants and officer to the enemy and leadership had evolved to him. The Cpl. still pushed on despite having wounds to his head, face and shoulders, yet he kept the men advancing towards their targets. He should have been evacuated himself, but was too stubborn and insisted on staying with his men and pushing on. Then a MG position appeared to his front. Miner left his men in the rear and immediately charged the enemy and all those he could not kill ran for their lives. He then turned their own weapon of them and took out even more Germans.
Later that day... still in the advance he took several men with him and destroyed another MG nest. Sill later that day his men found an occupied enemy bombing post. Again single handed, Cpl Miner charged the position and used his bayonet on 2 Germans while the rest again fled for their lives. But in the process one of them lobbed a stick grenade into the pit Miner was in.
Cpl Miner was evacuated to the #5 Casualty Clearing Station but died later that night. Those Allies still alive at the western Front some 94 days later would come to the end of the war in that part of the world. It would happen as we all known of the 11th of November. But what most may not know is that the signing of the Armistice took place in the middle of a forest very close to a place called Compiegne France... and that was only about 60 KMs away from where Cpl Miner passed away. It is at bottom center of the map above.
On 17 August... or 14 September 1918 there was supposed to me a London Gazette announcement that Cpl Miner had been awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government. As noted above, a search of many pages on both citations failed to produce the information sought. On 26 October 1918 the LG also published its proof that Cpl Miner was also awarded the Victoria Cross. Both awards would have obviously been posthumous.
Don't forget to also read about Cher Ami. He's been stuffed since the war, but he got one too. It is a very interesting and great read. check it out. Not the shortage of the leg. All part of the story!
And in the mean time, I leave you with the note that our hero Corporal Harry Garret Bedford Miner was born on 24 June 1891, and that was 223 years ago last Tuesday.
Sorry I missed your birthday Sir,