Arthur Storey

photograph of arthur storeyGunner, 127233, 346th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of wounds, 16th August 1917, aged 31

Born at Crowle in 1886, Arthur was the youngest son and one of the eight children of James and Jane Storey (nee Bale). His parents were both from Pontefract and had moved to Crowle in the late 1860’s. When Arthur was born they were living on Crowle Moors, next door to the Amery’s, later moving to Cross Slack.

In 1901 Arthur was working alongside his father and elder brother as a labourer on the Moors. By 1911 he had acquired enough capital to set himself up in business as a peat merchant and small farmer. The business was relatively profitable as he was able to leave the sum of £2678 to his wife in his will.

A well groomed, neat and tidy man with an impressive wax moustache, Arthur was a regular client of Harold Goodison a local barber. We know this because in March 1914 he appeared as a character witness for Mr Godison in a local court case. George Marshall was suing him for negligence whilst shaving him. Apparently Arthur used Mr Goodison four times a week and had never had any problems with him.

In 1913 Arthur married Ruth Alice Crackle, daughter of Henry Crackle, a brewery drayman for the New Trent Inn, Ealand. They were still living in Crowle when Arthur attested for the army at Scunthorpe in 1916 but in his listing on the Commonwealth War Graves his widow is recorded as living at Ramsgate in Kent.

In January 1916 with the number of new volunteers slowing and the casualty rate growing, the Government introduced the Military Service Act and conscription for single men. Conscription was extended to married men, on 25 May 1916. For those men who did not believe they should be conscripted, because of ill-health, conscientious objection or in an occupation that was vital to the war economy, a system of appeals tribunals was set up to hear their case. We know that Arthur Storey was one of those men who appealed to the Crowle Military Tribunal as the papers for Ewart Amery’s tribunal refer to ‘a difficult case…..similar to A Storey’, but unfortunately as Arthur’s papers have not survived we don’t know the details. A deeply religious man and member of the Baptist Chapel he could have appealed on conscientious grounds, or like Ewart Amery, because farming was a ‘starred’ occupation.

Arthur’s appeal was refused. After attesting at Scunthorpe he was mobilised for the Royal Garrison Artillery arriving at Ripon Camp around October or November 1916, when his army number was issued. Following his training he was posted to 346th Siege Battery RGA and departed for the Western Front with them on 30 May 1917.

Arthur had several narrow escapes during his time in France, the most harrowing of which was probably being buried by a shell in early August. A fortnight later he was with his unit somewhere between Bethune and Arras when they again came under attack. This time Arthur was seriously wounded, hit in the thigh and head by shrapnel and was taken for treatment to the 7th Casualty Clearing Station at Noeux-les-Mines. Here on 16th August 1917 Arthur Storey died of his wounds on 16th August 1917. He is buried in Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery.

Shortly afterwards the rest of his guncrew wrote a touching letter to his widow:

‘At times like these words fail to express our feelings, but your husband was a man of such sterling character that we feel we should not be just to ourselves if we did not write you. Gunner Storey was liked and appreciated by us all for his friendliness and brotherliness and he will long remain in our memories. He was always ready to help another, and to share with us anything he processed.
Often he would quietly retire into a corner to read his Testament, and remained true to his Saviour and to his principles to the end. He died at his post of duty ‘faithful unto death’….

A memorial service was held for Arthur at the Baptist Chapel on 2nd September 1917.

Shortly before going to France he had written to the pastor of the church regarding his position on the part he was to play in the war and ‘the stern realities of life and death‘. The letter went on;

‘He felt that he might have to make the great surrender of life itself, when he crossed to France. He knew not. But however hard and dark the future, his desire was to be true and faithful to his King and country, true and faithful also to his Lord and Master and Saviour. He closed his last letter with quoting the following three verses from his favourite hymn’:

Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, sometime, we’ll understand.

We’ll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
Heaven will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah, then, we’ll understand.

God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, up there, we’ll understand.

Sometime We’ll Understand by Maxwell N Cornelius