Burnley soldier holds key to war

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Teenager Harry Manders Teenager Harry Manders

A TEENAGER who is recorded as the youngest soldier to die from Burnley could prove to be crucial in relaying the sacrifices made on the battlefields of the First World War.

Aged just 16, Harry Manders lost his life while serving in the trenches as a private with the 5th Shropshire Light Infantry, in January 1916.

Now Towneley Hall’s senior curator is hopeful that Harry’s demise will bring home the dedication of young troopers to modern-day students, a century on.

Mike Townend, who was been working on the borough’s First World War commemorations initiative, is looking to use Harry as the central figure in his Great War presentation in Burnley schools.

He knows that the youngster’s descendants were still living in the Burnley area up to six years ago and is keen for his relatives to get in touch to provide a broader picture of his life.

Harry was the son of George and Sarah Manders, of Newcastle Street, which was on the site of the Anchor Retail Park.

He attended the former Pickup Croft School and worked as a weaver at Brierley’s Calder Vale Mill. War reports from the time told how he was killed while attempting to rescue a wounded comrade from a battlefield under fire. The Bishop of Burnley later unveiled a portrait of the fallen hero at St Peter’s, paid for by the Scout troop attached to the church, of which Harry was a member. His name was also recorded on St Peter’s war memorial.

Mr Townend said: “We know his family was still in Burnley in 2008 and we’re hoping they are still here.

“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.”

If anyone from the family is able to get in touch with Mr Townend, or knows of their whereabouts, he can be contacted at Towneley Hall on 01282 424213 or via email at mtownend@burnley.gov.uk

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