Arthur William Oxenforth

lincolnshire regimental badgePrivate, 242160, 2nd Battalion (formerly 7015, 4th Battalion), Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action, 25th April 1918, aged 21

Born in 1897 at Crowle, Arthur was the only son of Thomas William and Eliza Jane Oxenforth (nee Pacy). His father had been born in Wakefield although his family had moved to Crowle whilst he was a young boy and his mother was from Lincoln. The family lived in the High Street, where his father, formerly a house painter, ran a butcher’s shop in 1911.

Arthur attended Crowle Council Boys School and was one of the four former school friends who died in the Great War, along with Harry Eyre, Fred Hill and Percy Walton, to have been awarded a good attendance medal from the school in 1906.

Arthur enlisted in the army in Crowle and the information from his army numbers indicates he was initially a member of the Lincolnshire Regiment Territorial Force, possibly even joining as early as 1911. He was given a new number when all Territorial Units were renumbered in 1917 so was certainly in the UK on that date, probably with the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, as it had been so named in 1916.

At some point in 1917 Arthur was sent to France to join the 2nd Lincoln’s. He was certainly in France in December 1917 as the Epworth Bells reported that he had been ‘gassed’. So he may have been one of the lucky 80 men of the 2nd Lincoln’s who survived the Battle of St Quentin, in which Sgt John Brant lost his life, or perhaps he was transferred from another battalion to bring them back up to a reasonable fighting strength.

In April 1918 the 2nd Lincoln’s moved from the Somme north to Kemmel, eight miles south of Ypres. When the Georgette offensive towards Kemmel began on 7th April they were stationed in Forrester Camp on the Menin Road. On the 10th April in a supporting action to the Battle of Messines, they staged a successful counter attack on the German positions at Wytschaete which they then held for five days thus slowing the advance in that area.

Having only day’s rest the 2nd Lincoln’s then took part in another successful attack at Wytschaete on the 17th April, before going out of the line to rest at Scottish Camp, near Ouderdom. They left Scottish Camp early in the morning of 25th April and moved to reserve positions near Dickkebus, south west of Ypres. On the 25th the German offensive moved against the area and the 2nd Lincoln’s came under a heavy artillery bombardment before providing support against the following infantry attack.

There are no known casualty figures for the 25th April but over the period of 25th to 29th April, an action known as the Second Battle of Kemmel, the 2nd Lincolnshire’s lost 23 men killed, 225 wounded and 53 missing. Arthur Oxenforth was one of those who died in the trenches at Dikkebus on 25th April. He was buried in a battlefield grave where he fell, but in 1919 his body was exhumed and reburied alongside his former colleagues in Klein-Vierstratt British Cemetery.

According to his medal card, Arthur Oxenforth’s medals were never claimed by his family. Returned to the military they were instead sent under Kings Regulations 1912 Paragraph 1743, ‘to be broken up by the Deputy Director of Stores, Royal Dockyard, Woolwich’.