When the First World War broke out on 4th August 1914 my father, Arthur and his two brothers, Harry and Tom, decided to join us as soon as they could. There was a good deal of idealism in people’s feelings about fighting for their country. All three brothers signed on at the local recruiting office and my father was sent to Barnet, north of London, where he was assigned to the 7th Middlesex Regiment. From there he was transferred to Egham in Surrey. One incident he could recall must have occurred there. My father was physically rather immature for his nineteen years and he had not begun to shave regularly. After an intensive period learning to march around the parade ground the day came when they were to be inspected by some high-ranking officer of higher and higher rank until the ‘top brass’ appeared for the real thing. I should explain that it was expected that a serving soldier should remain clean-shaven unless he already had a moustache or beard. If he wanted to start growing facial hair he had to ask permission – he couldn’t just stop shaving. A record was kept of those who had obtained ‘permission to grow’, as it was called. The day of the big parade arrived. A junior officer accompanied by a sergeant-major came round to inspect the recruits. When the officer got to my father he stopped and looked at his face. He stared at the brown fluffy growth on his upper lip. My father’s heart gave a leap of fear. The officer spoke: ‘Sergeant major, does this recruit have permission to grow?’ the sergeant major consulted his lists. ‘No sir’, he said. The officer raised an inquiring eyebrow at my father. ‘Sir’, my father blurted out, ‘I haven’t started shaving yet.’ The officer and the sergeant looked at each other – and passed down the line, the sergeant major muttering something about mere boys wanting to join the army these days. 

My father completed the recruit stage of his training and was posted to Gibraltar. In the Bay of Biscay the ship ran into a storm and started to roll violently. The soldiers were not allowed on deck because, they were told, there were German submarines about. Conditions became miserable. Many were seasick and the area below decks were filled with the stench. The ship continued to pitch and roll. Every time the prow ploughed into a wave the stern rose into the air exposing the propellers, which gave a sudden, furious whir, while the boat shuddered convulsively. My father felt the propellers were spinning round in his stomach. The report that German submarines were now in the immediate area did nothing to cheer anyone up. My father felt that he would welcome the attention of a submarine; at least it would release him from this hell. Eventually the ship emerged from the storm and proceeded steadily on its way. They docked at Gibraltar in the middle of February 1915. It was warm and sunny and life became more bearable. One day while bathing a young lad from then unit gave a shriek and stumbled out of the water with a jellyfish gripping his backside. He was beside himself with the pain. The creature had to be cut away from his body before it would relax its grip. After a few days he made a complete recovery, but he must have borne the scars for the rest of his life.

Life for my father in ‘Gib’ was reasonably pleasant, but it was not to last. The following July he learned that the unit was to be posted to France. Their ‘real war’ was about to begin.  My father never told me how he got to France, but when the unit arrived it soon became clear that they were destined for the front line. As it happened, no sooner had he got to the trenches than he became ill. He was withdrawn from the front and taken to a field hospital, where his condition was diagnosed as inflammation of the kidneys. Considering the heavy loss of life encountered in the trenches, it may be that he owes his life to this unexpected intervention. It was decided that he was to be sent back to England (‘Blighty’ as it was called) for treatment. He was put on a train bound for the French coast. In the same compartment was a German prisoner in the charge of two guards. The prisoner could speak a little English but he and my father got into conversation. The German showed him photographs of his wife and children and spoke of his life and work in a German town before he was called up. It was a strange experience for my father. Here was a man who was supposed to be ‘the enemy’, one of ‘the Hun’ and yet, here they were sharing stories of their upbringing and their hopes and dreams before the war had intervened. The man showed him a picture of himself in his German uniform. My father couldn’t help comparing the tall, proud, upright figure in the photo with the bent, broken man who sat beside him, with defeat and humiliation written all over his face. He would no doubt be treated civilly in a POW camp in England, but the honour of fighting for his country had been snatched away from him for the rest of the war.

My father stayed in England for the rest of the war and became a musketry instructor with the rank of sergeant. He spoke of just one incident in a camp near Corton, just north of Lowestoft on the Suffolk coast. Because the camp was on the coast, and vulnerable to attacks from the air and by sea, it was decided that it should be camouflaged. My father was given the task of surveying the site from the air to see if there were ways it could be more effectively concealed. He was driven to the local airfield and introduced to the pilot. He climbed into the open cockpit and sat immediately behind the pilot. The pilot showed him the leather strap, saying “if you want to attract my attention, just jerk my strap two or three times and yell into my ear” They took off and the horizon seemed to spin round making my father feel dizzy. The pilot turned round and shouted, “Well, how was it? Did you see what you wanted to see?” My father realised that they had already reached the site of the camp and flown over it without him knowing where they were. The pilot said he would fly over again. A few minutes later they were over the airfield and taxiing along the grass runway. The pilot jumped out and helped my father down from his seat. He felt shaken and disorientated by the whole experience. In despair at having to write a report about the camouflage he turned to the pilot for help. He came nobly to his aid. “Actually, they did a good job with the camouflage but in digging out the site they left piles of earth in a line behind the camp which are very obvious from the air and need camouflaging too.” My father wrote his report exactly in the way the pilot had told him and handed it in. The next day the C.O> congratulated him on an excellent job and his keen powers of observation.

Contributed by The Revd Alan MacGregor

 

…when several of us were lined up outside the Company office with all our kit looking like pack mules.

After saying goodbye to our pals we set off for the station. We had been told we were going to France and I myself was glad as I didn’t fancy going anywhere else. After travelling all night we got to Folkestone in the early hours of the morning. The day after we set off again to the harbour, this time where we were to embark for France. There was half a gale blowing as we went on board. The crossing was very rough, with the waves washing overboard. I didn’t see a man who was not seasick. Myself, I felt as if I didn’t care if I got across or not as I felt too ill.

At last wreached Boulogne. We got all lined up on the dockside with our kit bags and full pack which weighed about 80lbs altogether. At last the crowd of us were on the march to our first camp in France. This camp was made up of hutments where everybody was given blankets and iron rations, this was hard biscuits and bully beef. We had to sleep on the floor with blankets over us which did not smell very nice either. After a cold night, as it had been snowing, we were to start on our journey to Etalpes. The train went so slow you could get out and take a look round and then catch it up.

At last we came to Etaples which was like a vast plain with hutments and hospitals. During the first night nearly all the tents had blown away and we were left wet through and all our kit covered in snow.

 

There were a few comforts in the camp such as the Church Army and the Salvation Army huts where you could get a cup of tea and cakes cheaply. All the paper you wanted to write home was provided free, which was a blessing as my wages were only three shillings a week. The days were spent in route marching, bombing, bayonet fighting, and trench digging etc. to get everyone tough. Some nights we went night marching, all the time you could hear the guns in the far distance front line.

After three weeks I, and my new pals were marched off towards the battlefield. The sounds of the guns got louder as we marched through towns and villages and at nights to sleep in old farm buildings or where we could. All the time the weather was very bad and the mud terrible. Now and then a shell from a big gun would be near us. After a time you could get to know how near it was coming by the sound. Some of the big ones sounded like a train coming towards you. As we got nearer the front line the roads were sunken and covered with netting so the German planes could not spot you easily. All along the roads were ambulances and walking wounded coming from the fighting line.

Reaching the city of Arras we were told to find what shelter we could in the ruins to keep out of the snow and cold wind. I found some old corrugated tins and put them over an old trench for shelter. The city had been as big as Birmingham, and all the lovely shops and houses had been looted and burnt out. It was an awful sight and worse at night when the flash of the guns showed the ruins up more. The great Cathedral was all in ruins with the gravestones blown in all directions with gaping holes in the tombs. We spent a day or two here having a few narrow escapes from falling buildings and shells.

Crossing over some trenches coming out, a German plane fired at us and we had to nip fast into one of our tanks. It was about this time that I found out I was lousy, watching some men taking off their shirts and other underclothes I saw they were rubbing a lighted cigarette down the seams. Taking off my things I saw I had got plenty of lice myself. All my pals did the same and we ran our cigarettes down the seams as this was the only way to get rid of them. They were there in hundreds and gave me quite a shock. Of course we could not get a change of clothes very often.

As last came the day when I came right into the real thing. I was told to carry some ammunition for some gunners of another regiment, as we were going over the top in the morning. During the night our guns opened up with the worst fire I had ever heard. The air was alive with shells on the way to the German lines, it was like hell let loose. During the night we had a talk from an officer who was going with us, telling us to do our best for England tomorrow, as it was St George’s day 23rd April and that all the great deeds in our history had taken place on that day.

“We shall have a great victory” he said, “which will surprise the world. You will not all come back but do your duty, all of you”. Then the rum was handed round in mess tins after which you felt warm and didn’t care what was going to happen to you. As the dawn came the guns stopped suddenly and over the tops of the trenches we climbed, me with my rifle slung on my back and a box of ammunition in each hand. At once the rat-tat-tat of machine guns started from the Germans and the bullets came, our men falling like nine pins. I dropped to the ground and had to dig myself in with my entrenching tool working myself in like a mole to escape the bullets.

After a time I found that my eye was bleeding but thought nothing of it, I thought I had got caught on the barbed wire and got scratched. Before long the shells came thick and fast from the German lines. One of them burst at the side of me and gashed my thigh and broke my leg. I started to bleed badly but was able to put a pad over the wound and bind myself up. This made me helpless and I could not go any further except to creep about from one shell hole to another trying to find a bit of cover from the terrible shell fire. I had many narrow escapes and only my steel helmet saved my live. All this time it was cold and the shell holes had filled with water. What with mud and blood I was a sorry sight.

All the trees and growing things had been blasted away so the country was just like a vast plain. For hours I lay after throwing all my things away except for my gas mask. My rifle went too, it was of no use to me now. At last things got a bit quiet and in the distance I saw many groups of Germans walking towards our lines. These had been taken prisoner and were disarmed and sent back. I called to two of them, after waving my arms they saw me and came to me. I begged a drink of water as I was near dying for want of it. They then went and found a stretcher and put me on it. I found they were both young men and just in the battle front line for the first time. They could both speak English and one of them had been a barber in London. Although the shells were still falling fast they did not drop me once.

 

At last we reached the first dressing station. This was a place dug into the ground and used as a first aid post and to be able to do operations of sorts. There were scores of our men and many Germans. My trousers were cut off and my leg bandaged up, the doctors giving me an injection to stop lockjaw. After having something to eat and drink and having a label put on my tunic I was put into an ambulance with a young officer of the Drake Battalion who had been fighting near us. As the ambulance bumped and nearly threw us out the sound of the guns got quieter and quieter. It was a wonderful feeling to think I should never again go back.

I stayed all night in a hospital in Boulogne and crossed over to England the next day. That was the end of my five weeks in France. I was taken into hospital at Derby where I stayed for 5 months.

How some of the men stayed there for three years and over and lived in trenches with the filth, fleas, rats and terrible conditions of mud and water is something that cannot be understood. I hope those who read this story will sometimes think of those who died and who suffer years after for something, which we thought was good and noble for our own beloved country and for a better life for those who would be born afterwards. This we all know now to have been in vain.

By Sydney Tilley

At the Front

The following is an extract from a letter received from Roy Bleasdale, who is now in France:-

‘After leaving Avonmouth we sailed down the Bristol Channel and at nightfall were off Cardiff. During the night, or towards early morning, we passed Land’s End. Here the boat rocked and tossed awful, and we were thrown over each other. After two days of mid ocean we sighted the Channel Islands. About eight o’clock a gunboat threw its searchlight on us and scared us. When we awoke the next morning we could see Havre. Here we waited for the tide and then commenced the journey up the river Seine. We passed through magnificent country, glorious woods, and pretty old chateaux and villages. After about six hour’s journey we came to Rouen; this was about 10.30 at night. It was a fine sight coming up the river and seeing the town and quay all lighted up.

    Next morning we unloaded the lorries and cars, and, after dinner, we lined up in column formation and started off for our depot at the Navigation Sheds. This was an island in the middle of the river, and we arrived here at four o’clock. The next two nights we slept outside and were drenched to the skin, and had to sleep in four inches of water. We were then moved to the base at the Circus. Here we were allowed to go out, and I had now chance to see Rouen, which has a fine cathedral and a nice river.

     After two days at the base we joined a convoy of 25 lorries for Abbeville. We started at 5.30 in the morning after a wash in the river, and it was freezing awful. The old bus did take some starting. We had about 90 miles to do. All morning we were climbing and passing through beautiful country, and the aeroplanes were following us all the way. We passed a German aeroplane which had been brought down in a field by the road side. All along the way the villagers gave us apples and wine or anything we wanted. We arrived at Abbeville frozen to the bone. We could not go out and so retired early making our beds in the yard, although it was freezing awful. We got to sleep and were awakened at 4 am by the guard. Our blankets were covered with white frost. After breakfast the convoy was lined up and the last six lorries went to Boulogne, and the remainder to St. Omer. It was a beautiful road and a glorious morning. The French roads are as straight as a die for miles and miles, with trees each side. We arrived at our depot at 4 o’clock, tired out and frozen to the marrow. We had a bed in a cellar this night with a good fire. Next morning we were told we had come here for permanent duty and our particulars taken. Every morning at 7 am we get a requisition to go to one of the numerous hospitals. We go and take them medicines, food, and clothing. I have seen some awful sights of fellows blown to pieces and brought down here to the hospitals from the front. The patients have the best of everything – chickens and stout – anything they want. Most of the hospitals are at Wimereux-on-the Cliffs. I have seen England two or three times from here. At night you can see the searchlights at Dover.

    The other day I went right up in the firing line. I happened to be near our depot and a lorry was waiting to go with two tons of ammunition for a gun which had just come and so I offered to go.  We left Boulogne about 11.30 am and started out for the line. We went away through St. Omer and right through Hazelbruck and on to Lochre in Belgium. At Hazelbruck we slept for a few hours in the Market Place. All night long soldiers kept coming in and out of the trenches. They seemed happy and said they were not so badly off as they were covered with plenty of straw. About six o’clock we were on the move again, roads ‘chewed’ up, and on all sides houses blown to pieces. The shop windows were all smashed in and houses empty, and everything in ruins. We had an awful journey to Lochre. Here we made some tea in a petrol can, with a petrol fire, and eat a biscuit and bully beef.

    Now we could see the shells bursting and hear guns. One of our own big guns in a wood close to went off just as we passed. Soon after this a man on horseback met us, and we followed him over some barren country to a farm house. We were two miles in front of some of our artillery. In this house, which was blown inside out, was a young lieutenant, to whom we delivered the ammunition, and then had to wait till dark to return. Shells were bursting just in front of the house, and the lieutenant took no more notice of it than if he was on the ‘prom.’ at home. We started back with his instructions not to turn right or we should be in the German trenches, and I was never more sure of the left in all my life. We crept along the road in the dark all night, and got to Hazelbruck at 5.30 am, and put up for a couple of hours. We were now smoking tea leaves for cigarettes, as neither of us had a fag left. After four hours’ running we arrived back at Boulogne after a most exciting journey.

    I am still doing the same daily routine of hospital work which is interesting, as we see the sights of warfare in its worst form. Everywhere that I have been I have found the French people most generous and kind towards us. I hear that many more of the boys have joined from the chapel. Good luck to them and hope we shall all get home safe again. What tales to tell at the socials next winter!

    In closing, I must say that the Army looks after its men, and clothes and fits them out splendidly. The food at the base and in the field is the best of everything.

Roy Bleasdale

Roy Bleasdale, who wrote the letter, belonged to the family which owned Rowbottom's Printers in Alfreton. The firm published the 'Alfreton & Belper Journal' and printed the Congregational Church Magazine - both long gone.

Roy Bleasdale returned after the war, to marry, raise a family, and run his family firm.He was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery as a Despatch Rider.

By Rachel Walker

 

 

The Dunton boys lived in Chester Green Road with their parents Elizabeth Maria and Alfred Dunton.  

Leonard Dunton was born in Derby in December 1896 he was baptised at St Paul's in February 1897. He attended St Paul's school and was a Choir boy at St Paul's church. In 1911 he was a grocer’s errand boy but at the time of enlistment in the Army he was an apprentice at Newton's Engineering.  He enlisted in 1914 and  was a Sapper with 7th Field Company Royal Engineers, he died on the 12th November 1915  aged 18 when a shell struck the building in which he was sleeping resulting in both himself and a comrade being killed instantly by a falling girder. His family wrote:-

"No loved one stood beside him

To hear his last farewell.

Not a word of comfort could he have

From those that loved him well.

He did his duty"

 

William Henry Dunton was born in Derby in 1894 and was baptised at St Paul's in November 1894. In 1911 he was a Railway messenger but upon enlistment he states that he was a Clerk with the Midland Railway.  William joined the Army prior to the outbreak of war signing up on the 26th June 1912 with the Territorial Force - 1st North Midland Field Ambulance Royal Army medical Corps as a Driver (Private). He never saw service abroad and was discharged on the 26th September 1916 as Medically Unfit.

The report of Medical Board dated 12th September 1916 reads:

"Originated Nov 1914 Braintree Essex. Reported sick on account of weakness and thirst, found to be suffering from glycosuria.  General Condition, present weight clothed 8 stone 8 pounds, heaviest record was 10 stone 3 pounds before illness. Standard symptoms present, urine large quantity & containing sugar, thirst, large appetite etc; Not the result of, but aggravated by ordinary military service. Total Incapacity

Cause of Discharge: Medically Unfit - Diabetes Mellitus - under Kings Regulations pension awarded by medical board of 10 shillings per week.”

WILLIAM HENRY died of natural causes at the family home on the 30th January 1917 aged 22 years, only 3 months after being discharged.

A real tragedy for the family as having already lost 3 children in infancy and then Leonard killed in action in 1915. The Dunton name vanished from this particular line with all of the boys being lost and just daughters Ethel Annie and Dorothy left.

By Geoff Parton

During the night of 31st January 1916 a German Zeppelin airship, on course for Liverpool, mistakenly dropped its bombs on Derby killing 5 people. On the night of the raid the Old Crown Derby China Works on King Street was firing a kiln. When the air raid siren was sounded the kiln fires had to be dowsed and it was not known if the contents would be spoiled or not. When the kiln was opened the contents were found to have fired well. In memory of the event the whole kiln load was marked with a special airship and moon mark.

Jacqueline Smith, Curator
Royal Crown Derby

 

“We need to build relationships. It was marvellous that the commonwealth came to help us in the wars.” 

Kathleen Weller

After War was declared there was no shortage of offers from Hartington, answering the call to join the military. The stories behind some of the names which appear on Hartington’s distinctive Grade II listed War Memorial provide instructive illustrations of this.

Frank Broomhead was born in Hartington but later emigrated to Australia. As soon as he reached the age of 18 early in 1916 he enlisted with the Australian Expeditionary Force. He began active service as a member of the 14th Machine Gun Company at Etaples on 2nd September 1916, during the later stages of the Battle of the Somme. Private Frank Broomhead was killed in action on 1st February 1917, along with three comrades, when a shell exploded in their dugout.

Sidney Oliver was born in Hartington in July 1864. Like Frank Broomhead he also emigrated, but to Canada, reaching British Colombia, where he married and settled down. William Evelyn was born there on 14th January 1893.

Lance Corporal Sidney Oliver and Private William Evelyn Oliver of the Canadian Infantry [British Colombia Regiment], Division: 7th Bn., were killed on the same day, 24th April 1915, at Ypres, Belgium. Along with tens of thousands of other soldiers at this location there is no actual grave; they are ‘buried’ at the Menin Gate at Ypres.

The Canadian Government decided to send to Europe all 83000 men who had volunteered to fight. They arrived safely in Plymouth and transferred to set up camp on Salisbury Plain, as directed by the British War Office.

The plan was that the Canadians would train there but after a few reportedly pleasant days relentless rain set in and so began one of the worst winters ever recorded. Everywhere became a morass, all clothing, equipment and personal possessions were completely saturated [the soldiers probably little realising that these conditions would be encountered again in France and Belgium, only worse, and while being shot at], there was increasing illness which filled the hospitals to overflowing, no training occurred and there was the inevitable boredom. A lot of soldiers apparently took matters into their own hands and went absent without leave, many heading for the London high-life.

It seems likely, but it is not absolutely certain, that Sidney and William Evelyn took the opportunity to visit Hartington sometime in late 1914, whether on official leave or otherwise. If they did visit Hartington, Sidney [by now fifty years old; he had given his date of birth as 1870 when he joined up, so as not to be rejected as too old] would not have seen it and his relatives for almost 30 years, and for William Evelyn, of course, it would have been his first, and only, visit.

The Canadian Forces re-assembled and left for France at the beginning of February, 1915. Just over two months later Sidney, William Evelyn, and many of their comrades were dead. Their names are commemorated on the Hartington War Memorial. So too is the name of James Oliver, who joined the Canadian Forces in 1916, over a year after his father and brother had been killed at Ypres.

It is thought likely that James visited Hartington when his regiment passed through England on its way to France in the late summer of 1916. The best evidence we have for this is a photograph of a man in Canadian military uniform alongside Margaret Oliver. She was born in Hartington in 1912 and looks about four or five years old in the photograph; surviving relatives say that Margaret hardly ever left the village in her early years, so the photograph was almost certainly taken there. Margaret does not look young enough for the picture to have been taken with Sidney or William Evelyn Oliver in 1914.

James was killed on the first day of the famous battle for Vimy Ridge, near Arras; an allied victory there three days later was a turning point of the War but amongst the total Canadian force of 30000 men there were 11000 casualties, 3598 of them fatal.

One hundred years ago millions of men like Frank Broomhead, Sidney Oliver, William Evelyn Oliver and James Oliver were prepared to leave daily life behind, seemingly at a moment’s notice, to travel half-way round the World to do whatever they could to assist with the War effort. In the autumn of 1914 it was believed the War would soon be over – nobody, including Germany and Great Britain, wanted a lengthy war – and perhaps nobody could foresee the lengthy stalemates which would actually ensue, with all the attendant horrors of trench warfare and the enormous loss of life. Those who joined up in 1914 will almost certainly have believed that they would be back home before Christmas.

By Richard Gregory

 

 

Conflict has always touched my family because both my grandfathers were killed in the First World War, both in 1917. I was taught to mourn these absent men though I never knew them because, obviously it effected my parent’s lives so much. 

Until the day she died in her 80s my mother still grieved for her father and some time on May 3rd every year there were tears.  She was 13 when he was killed and to a 13 year old girl your father is a god – you haven't noticed the clay feet yet.  So he went with her through her life and into ours. 

It was so part of my story that in the 1990s my husband took me back to where my granddad was killed and buried, a small village, Oppy Wood, just outside Arras. And I looked at the graves (though I didn't know which one it was, I knew he was there) and I cried because I felt I had met him at last and because I had never known him and because of a lifetime of grieving by my Mum.  The photo is of my granddad, my Nanna and my mother.

My father's father is buried in the Middle East.  As he said to my sisters and I once “If ever you are in Ishmael you will go and look up my Dad's grave won't you.”  We promised we would.

Julie Fox

From the madness of 1916 July 1st and from the savagery of Passchendaele to the insanity of men being killed right up to 11am on Nov 11th 1918

Inept Leaders commanding brave "Cannon Fodder".  Sacrifice on an inhuman scale.  Friends became enemies, Families forever parted. Could it all been sorted over a politicians table instead of a generation lost.

Anon

There is only one hope and that is God. God is love and love is all. That is man’s only hope.

My grandfather was killed at Sulva bay in Gallipoli in 1915. A tragic waste of so many lives. My mother was born on Easter Sunday in 1916, he never saw her but she gave hope and joy to her mother and the other children in her family.

Anon

 

Local parish churches helped in the war effort by providing supplies for the Red Cross such as bandages, pillow cases, socks, scarves etc. and by supporting appeals for those in need overseas they supported the efforts of the soldiers in their intercessions and with special services of remembrance.  Special days were set aside for intercession in many cathedrals and parishes and a national day of prayer was set aside in 1917.

The Revd Carole Lloyd

This stained glass window was put into our church in memory of Henry Harrison by his parents, Henry and Rebekah. They attended Evensong without fail every Sunday and always sat in the pew nearest to this window.

Mrs B Salmon

Peace is quiet and quiet is Peace!

The guns are quiet.

The Silence is full of Hope.

 

Suddenly, the kick of a football,

The roar of the crowd.

We are all friends.

 

O that it could last.

 

Grand daughter (aged 7) and Grandma.

 

 

Arthur’s Story

Arthur was born on 6th January 1896, the son of William Trueman a Colliery Deputy, and Elizabeth at 45 Awsworth Road, Ilkeston. Educated at Trinity Infants and Granby Boys Schools, he was later employed at both Oakwell and Manners Collieries in Ilkeston. Arthur was a choirboy and for four years daily served at Ilkeston’s Holy Trinity Church.

He joined up in September 1914 and later became a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion the Sherwood Foresters (Nott & Derby) Regiment. After training in Derby and Newcastle he landed in France in January 1915. After two months he was sent back home to hospital in Oxford suffering from frostbite. He returned to France in August 1915 and was wounded on 12th October, dying of his wounds two days later. He was 19 years old.

Arthur is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, in Belgium. A beautifully decorated Memorial Scroll was made for Holy Trinity Church incorporating his photograph, which is reproduced in this book.

By Grant Shaw

My father, who served with the RAMC (Welsh Field Ambulance Section) in the Ypres Salient 1917-18, used to mention an incident which illustrated the common humanity shared by the troops on both sides though they were confronting one another as sworn enemies, daily.

On one occasion the orderlies found the corpse of a German soldier virtually buried in the mud. An Anglican chaplain was summoned and the German soldier – unknown by name, rank or religious persuasion – was interred as the chaplain said the following:-

“We commit our departed brother to the earth, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection.” He concluded by saying “comfort those who will mourn him.”

Though by this time the troops were used to the presence of death on a daily basis, the fact that one of the enemy was being buried added to the poignancy of the occasion and reminded those present of the communion – humanity shared by all belligerents and the reminder or the incident after the war offered some hope for reconciliation between individuals and nations.

 

 

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