Arthur MCCOUGH (McGough)
Rank: Private
Number: 58356
Unit: 2/4th Battalion YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 27 September 1918
Age: 20 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

At the beginning of the 20th century it was not that uncommon for branches of the same family to spell their surnames differently, particularly when literacy levels in some part of society were fairly low . This seems to be the case with Arthur. The 1901 Census and family birth and marriage information indicates it was McGough. However, the spelling on the Memorial and the records of the War Graves Commission has it as McCough.

Richard McGough and Sarah Mellor married in a civil ceremony at Stockport in the December quarter of 1896. Arthur was born about two years later. At the turn of the century, the family was living at 18 Angel Street, Stockport and Richard earned his living as a spinner in one of the local cotton mills. Nothing is known about Arthur's early life.

He enlisted into the army at Stockport and was originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery, service number 160766. This does not appear on his medal entitlement records held by the National Archives, confirming that he never served abroad with the Artillery. He was, no doubt, transferred to the infantry when he had completed his training. His original service number with the York & Lancasters was 41671. The fact that he has a second later one suggests that he had a period away from his Battalion. This is likely to have been a lengthy period recovering from a wound or illness. When he was fit enough to return, he will have been given another number.

It can be said with reasonable certainty that these earlier postings were not with the 2/4th Battalion. It was a Territorial Battalion and, prior to 1917, men had four-digit service numbers. After 1917, they were re-designated with six-digit numbers. However, if Arthur transferred from one of the Regiment's "Service" Battalions after 1917, he would have retained his five digit number. A number of these Service Battalions were disbanded in the spring of 1918 and this is the most probable time for Arthur to have come to the 2/4th.

The action in which Arthur would be killed was later officially designated as the Battle of the Canal du Nord and, in the early morning of the 28th, the Battalion crossed the Canal. They advanced to Havrincourt Chateau Wood with relative ease but, here, they started to take casualties from artillery fire. Orders were given to deploy along the Havrincourt-Marcoing railway line. They were now being hit by machine gun fire from both flanks but continued to advance, capturing prisoners. Shortly afterwards, the Germans launched a counter-attack against the Company on the left of the advance. The Battalion War Diary records "This counter attack, owing to the gallantry and determination of our men, was repulsed with heavy enemy loss and 35 prisoners taken."

The men later entered the village of Ribecourt.  "20 of the enemy, in a large house near the entrance to the village, gave considerable opposition with machine guns, but were captured and Companies proceeded through village mopping up en route."

Arthur was one of 15 men to have been killed. His body was not recovered and identified.

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