The family history website, FreeBMD, records that Arthur's birth was registered between January and March 1871.He had been born in the Cheadle area. It has not been possible to find his entry in the 1901 Census, perhaps suggesting he might have been serving abroad with the army as did many young men of the time. By the time of the Great War, he had married and was living at 27 Hanover Street in the Portwood area of Stockport.
It's known that his wife was called Mary Ann. Between April and June 1895, a man called Arthur Stokes married a Mary Ann Holdsworth at Oldham and this may be the same couple.
Arthur's service number indicates he enlisted in September 1914 and would have gone overseas a year later. On the day he was killed, the Battalion was in trenches in the Ploegsteert area of Belgium. This was about 3 kilometres north of the French town of Armentieres.
The Battalion's War Diary notes that, during the morning, the British artillery had shelled a nearby German position known as the Birdcage , suspecting that it was a machine gun emplacement. It records that, after dark, the enemy's snipers became "unusually active". Perhaps reflecting a growing acceptance that casualties were almost commonplace, there is no mention of Arthur's death. The officer compiling the Diary did, however, find it worth noting that, at 4pm, "Five pigeons seen flying from the direction of Warneton over Ploegstreet Wood". Perhaps he thought they might be carrier pigeons.