World War One remembered: Father shot dead trying to save son

MEMORIAL CARD: A thank you from widow Mrs Harry Moorhouse and the family following their great loss.
MEMORIAL CARD: A thank you from widow Mrs Harry Moorhouse and the family following their great loss.

An army chief was shot dead by a sniper after seeking medical help for his mortally wounded soldier son.

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Moorhouse and his son Captain Ronald Wilkinson Moorhouse, of Wakefield, served together in the 4th Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in France from 1915.

Harry Moorhouse

Harry Moorhouse

The pair were wounded several times during their service but fought on. Ronald wrote to his aunt, telling her “If you put your head above the parapet you soon have bullets whizzing about you.”

Both father and son were decorated soldiers: Harry from his service in The Boer War, while Ronald was given Military Cross for gallantry, this could have been in early in 1917 when he was wounded.

By October 1917 the pair were both serving in Passchendaele in Belgium at The Battle of Poelcappelle. Ronald was leading the Y Company of his Battalion through the mud and heavy machine gun fire when he was fatally injured. His father, Harry, left headquarters to organise medical help, against his son’s wishes. He was shot a few minutes later. Neither Ronald nor Harry’s bodies were recovered for burial. A comrade of Ronald’s would later call him ‘a gallant son of his gallant father’.

The loss was felt across Wakefield, where the papers called the Moorhouses, who ran a wool mill, ‘one of Wakefield’s best known and respected families’. It is thought they were the only father and son killed in the Battle of Passchendaele. Both men are remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Ronald Moorhouse

Ronald Moorhouse