Today is the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the largest seaborne invasion in history. D-Day marked the beginning of the liberation of France and western Europe during which the Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land more than 150,000 troops on five beaches in Normandy.

To commemorate the occasion we wanted to look at some of the men from Saltaire who served during the Second World War, specifically those who were held as Prisoners of War. POWs are often forgotten compared to those who remained to fight or were killed in action. 

One of the men from Saltaire who was held as a Prisoner of War was Charles Milton. In these photos you can see him in his wedding photo from 1940 with his wife Elizabeth, in his army uniform whilst in Egypt in 1942, and with his mum and wife Elizabeth in 1941.

Wedding Of Charles Milton

Charles Milton was born in Saltaire in October 1911 to a veteran of the First World War, Holmes Milton and his wife Emily. 

Charles married his wife Elizabeth in 1940 and served during the Second World War in the 1st Worcester Regiment (Intelligence Department).

Charles Milton Egypt

The first public mentioning of him being a Prisoner of War was in a report from the Shipley Times on the 22 July 1942:

Shipley Soldier Missing

'Mr. & Mrs. Holmes Milton. 18 Queen's Road, Shipley, have received official notification that their son. Private Charles Milton, of the 1st Worcester Regiment (Intelligence Department) is reported missing or presumed a prisoner of war in Libya. Before joining the Army, Private Milton was a designer employed by the Celanese Art and Silk manufacturers, London. He had a distinguished career at the Shipley School of Art and afterwards at the Royal College of Art. London. where he gained all diplomas'.

After being held prisoner for 2 years the Shipley Times reported that he had been released in July 1944:

Report from the Shipley Times and Express 12 July 1944: -

'Mrs. C. Milton, of 18, Queen’s Road, Shipley, has received from her husband, Private Charles Milton, Worcestershire Regt., that he is now with the Allies, after spending ten months as a prisoner of war in Italy. He states that he is fit and well, brown as a berry, and hoping to be home soon'.

Charles Milton With His Wife And Mother May 1941

Report from the Shipley Times 6 September 1944: -

'The many friends of Private Charles Milton, son of Mrs. and the late Mr. Holmes Milton, 18 Queen's Road. Shipley, who has been a Prisoner of war will be pleased to hear that he is fit and well and enjoying a few days' leave at home. In a chat I had with him on Saturday, he told me that whilst a prisoner of war in Italy along with two others, he spent the time hiding in the hills and living on a farm. He spoke highly of the Italian people who he said, were really marvellous. After the Germans had left, Private Milton and his companions escaped and re- joined their regiment, and after staying about a fortnight in a liberation camp they were sent home. Private Milton, It will be recalled, was a scholar at Salts' Boys' High School, and attained considerable success whilst a student at the Shipley Technical School and also at the Royal College of Art'.

Charles died in April 1993 in Derbyshire.

Below is a list of the men from Shipley and District who were PoWs during the Second World War:

Frank Alderson, William Vincent Ambler, Alan Armitage, Stanley Bulman, Raymond Colin Clements, Clifford Clubley, Lionel Weymrs Sheen Collier, William Henry Deebank, Vincent Grace, Thomas Grange, Robert Henry Green, Dennis Hartley, Harold Hawkes, Douglas Holdsworth, Walter Johnson, Ernest Lake, Jack Lockwood, John Thomas Mason, Charles Milton, Benjamin Parker, Peter Owen Squires, Halliday Arthur Stephenson, George Archer Summerson, Geoffrey Sutcliffe, George William Wilson.

We're grateful for the sacrifice of those who served in the World Wars.

Photos and information: Colin Coates – Saltaire Historian

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