Arthur would be the first of Maiden brothers to be killed in the War. The news that every family dreaded would come twice more in 1917 – Eli Maiden would die on 15 May and Ernest in the middle of November. A fourth brother, Albert (Bert) also served but survived the War.
The family originated from Dawley in Shropshire where William Dawley earned his living as a clay miner. He was married to Emily and, when the census was taken in 1901, they were living at Sandy Bank Row. This accommodation comprised just three rooms and had to accommodate the couple and their eight children. It is not known when they moved to the Stockport area.
In the late spring of 1913, Arthur married Mary Holmes at Madeley, Shropshire. It’s thought that they lived at 14 Back Street, Peel Green, Patricoft, until Arthur enlisted on 17 August 1915. After training, he left Britain on 16 February 1916 aboard the troopship, HMT Olympic, and arrived at Mudros, on the Greek island of Lemnos, on the 24th. He joined the 1st Battalion the next day and served until 16 September when he was invalided away suffering from influenza. In the days before anti-biotics, it was a much more serious illness and he was not fully fit enough to rejoin until 10 November. By this time, the Marines had moved to France and were in the vicinity of Beaumont Hamel in the heart of the previous year’s Somme battlefield.
On the evening of 16 February 1917, Arthur and his comrades moved to assembly positions in Pusieux Trench, north of the village of Grandcourt, ready for an attack the next morning. Whilst they were waiting they were subjected to very heavy enemy artillery fire. The Battalion’s War Diary carries only scant details of the attack which commenced at 5.45am on the 17th. The men went over the top in two waves, each separated by about 20 paces. There was about six foot between each man. They were reported to have captured their objective, known as The Pimple, by 6.40am.
They immediately started to consolidate their gains and held the position until relieved during the 18th, fighting off several German counter-attacks and, again, being subjected to artillery bombardment. Arthur was one of 71 known to have been killed – most had died in the bombardment before and after the actual attack.