Arthur Thompson

royal welsh fusiliers badgeSergeant, 30260, 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers (previously 26515, 11th (Reserve) Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry), killed in action, 2nd July 1918, aged 22

Born at Kilnhurst, near Rotherham in January 1896, Arthur was one of the ten children of Thomas William and Ann Thompson, both of whom were also from Kilnhurst. The family moved to Crowle sometime after 1902 when his father took over Croft House Farm in Gas Road. In 1911 Arthur was working as a horseman for Henry Howard at Lindholme Grange.

Arthur enlisted in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Doncaster on 20th November 1915, aged 19 years 10 months. He did his inital training with the 11th (Reserve) Battalion before on 20th May 1916 being transferred to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who were based at Litherland, near Liverpool.

Whilst in training Arthur was not always the perfect soldier. In June 1916, shortly after joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers he was confined to barracks for thirty days for having a rusty rifle and bayonet on parade. Whilst still serving this sentence he failed to make a parade and got another seven days added to the sentence. On 18th September 1916 he was ‘dirty at orderly room, not having shaved’ and had another three days in barracks. It must have been a relief to him to go out to France for some ‘proper’ soldiering.

Following the huge losses on the Somme the army mobilised many of their reservists and in November 1916 Arthur was posted to France. He probably arrived on 9th November but it was not until 22nd November that he was posted to a unit, the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Also serving in the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers at this time were the War Poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves. In 1917, Arthur, along with Sassoon and Graves, was involved in the Battle of Arras, although Sassoon was in hospital in the UK when Arthur and the rest of the unit fought in the Third Battle of Ypres.

Arthur proved a more reliable active soldier than he did a recruit. On the 3rd January 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then Corporal on 4th June 1917. He was appointed Acting Sergeant on 23rd November 1917 and to a full Sergeant on 7th February 1918, the day after the battalion transferred to 115th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division.

During the German Spring Offensive of 1918 the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers were stationed on the Somme and participated in the Battles there. They were still on the Somme in June, around Mesnil-Martinsart just north of Albert, alternating between periods of rest and duty on the front line. On the 28th June they took over a section of trenches to the west of Mesnil, known as Mesnil Right Sector.

The following day they sent out a patrol to the German trenches to reconnoitre their positions and capture prisoners. The 30th June was quiet but at 10.00pm on 1st July a forward post in Aveluy Wood was in turn attacked by a German raiding party most likely in reprisal for the earlier Fusilier’s raid. After a stiff fight with the section defending the post, the German raiders were fought off when a reliving party from D Company arrived.

It is uncertain if Arthur Thompson was stationed with the advanced post or if he was part of the relief from D Company, but he was one of the six casualties suffered in Aveluy Wood that evening. He is buried in Mesnil Communal Cemetery.

In sending the news to his family his company officer wrote of Arthur;

‘He was a good and brave lad, and was liked by everyone in the Company for his braveness and jolly manner’.