Ira Drake
Courtesy of Halifax Courier

Ira can be traced on the 1891 census aged 3 living with his parents Joseph and Mary in Northowram, he had three brothers and three sisters.  It is believed that both his parents had died by the time of the 1901 census as Ira was then living at 11 Moor Street, Queensbury, with his brother Frank aged 19 as the head of the house.  Frank was the second child of the Drake family (the eldest of the Drake children John has not been traced on the census) the youngest child under his care was Ellen who was aged 10.

In 1911 Ira was living with his three sisters still at Moor street, his sisters were mill workers and Ira was an assistant drapery tailor, at the co-operative.  On 17th November 1915, he married Beatrice Kershaw at Queensbury Parish Church, Beatrice was a local girl living at Montrose Place, Mountain and a mill worker.  In December 1916, their son Ronald was born.

Ira enlisted in December 1915 and was mobilized on 13th August 1916 at the time of enlistment Ira and Beatrice were living in Liversedge and he was employed as a drapery traveler.

Serving in the Machine Gun Corps he arrived in France on 17th March 1917 and quickly joined his unit in the field.  At the start of September 1917, he was wounded, although unclear on his service records, the wound was to the head, it was however light as he returned to his unit after treatment and was again wounded on 29th September, this time receiving a GSW to the thigh.  This wound saw Ira pass back through the medical chain eventually reaching the hospitals at Etaples.

Having rejoined his unit in mid-October Ira was granted leave to the UK on 4th February 1918, he then returned to France and on 10th April 1918, was reported believed killed in action.  This was to be changed when an official German casualty list was received confirming the death of Ira with the date 14th April 1918.

The Halifax Courier dated 4th May 1918 gives more information on the death of Ira: “Second Lieutenant Page writes (to Beatrice): He was fighting his gun finely at the time of his death.  They were firing from an open window of a cottage at a large party of Boches with whom there were several machine guns and they had our fellows spotted.  The latter had to choose between ceasing fire and taking cover.  They chose the braver course and it was then that your husband came by his death”.  

Ira who was aged 30 is buried at LILLE SOUTHERN CEMETERY (III. B. 44).  His grave bears the inscription: “May his reward be as great as his sacrifice”.

Whilst Ira was serving Beatrice returned to 8 Montrose Place, Mountain and this address is shown on most of his service records.  In 1925 Beatrice married Harry Illingworth and she is shown on CWGC records as living as 17, East View, Clayton Heights, Queensbury. Beatrice died aged 62 in July 1954, a widow she had lived in Great Horton and left her probate to Ronald Drake and Dorothy Wibden, Dorothy was her daughter to Harry.