Arthur Scott SMITH
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 238084
Unit: 17th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 28 March 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

The 1901 Census shows Arthur to be one of the nine children of James and Hannah who were then living at 57 Grenville Street, Stockport. The children were Nellie (19), Charles (16), Hannah (14), James (12), Ada (10), Louis (8), Arthur (6), William (3) and Sam (8 months). James Smith worked as a mechanic at a local cotton mill and is understood to have died in 1914.

After leaving school, Arthur went to work for the Stockport Advertiser. It is not known when Arthur enlisted into the army, but he originally joined the local 6th (Territorial) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His service number is recorded as being 266085. Six digit numbers were not issued until the beginning of 1917, suggesting he was not an early volunteer for the army and will have joined as a conscript. This service is not recorded on his medal entitlement records, available on-line at the National Archives and this confirms that he did not serve abroad with the Cheshires. He was probably transferred to the King's Regiment when he finished training.

On 21 March, the German Army launched a massive attack against the British trenches which, within hours, was overwhelmingly successful. Many British troops were dead, wounded or captured and those that had managed to escape were in headlong retreat. Arthur and his comrades were in reserve positions and were not called on to fight that day. During the early morning of the 22nd, they were ordered forward to take part in a counter-attack at Holnon Wood (a couple of kilometres west of the French town of St Quentin). The attack was successful in halting the German advance but this could only be temporary and a withdrawal was ordered in the evening.

Further retirements took place on the 23rd and 24th. Near the village of Esmery-Hallon, the King's fought a rearguard action on the morning of the 24th.  They then withdrew to a sunken road near Verlaines where the enemy was checked for 30 minutes after which the King's had to fight another desperate rearguard action to protect the withdrawal of other troops at Moyencourt.

By the evening of the 27th, the Battalion was holding a defensive position on the Bouchoir - Warvillers Road. The King's had retreated approximately 40 kilometres since they first went into action.

At 10am on the 28th, the German infantry attacked in large numbers but were driven off. 30 minutes later, large numbers were seen advancing through Rouvray towards Warvillers and, at 11am, a further withdrawal was ordered. This took place at noon, when the Battalion was replaced by French troops. Exhausted, the men were now completely withdrawn from the battle and moved to billets at Rouvrel arriving at 6.30pm.

Although there would be many men out of action through wounds, the Battalion had fared better than many. Since they went into action on the 22nd, they had suffered only 39 fatalities (of whom Arthur was one of 11 to be killed on the 28th).

Reporting his death, the local newspaper also recorded that he was one of five brothers serving in the forces. His younger brother, William, was wounded in fighting in April 1918.

After the War, Mrs Smith had moved to live at 1 Bloom Street, Edgeley.

© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
Close Search Window