Arthur TURNER
Rank: Private
Number: 17959
Unit: 19th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 11 July 1916
Age: 23 (based on 1901 Census information)
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

At the time of writing (July 2006), the Commonwealth War Graves Commission wrongly records Arthur's Battalion as the 15th. This unit never left the UK and other records, including his service papers, correctly record it as the 19th. The Commission has been asked to consider amending its records. (Note: October 2006 - Commission has agreed to amend its records)

Arthur had been born in Ashton on Mersey and was the youngest of three children. His older siblings were Charles and Hannah. His father's name is not known but the 1901 Census records his mother as being Grace Turner and it is understood his father had died by then.

Arthur had moved to the Stockport area when he decided to enlist into the army on 4 September 1914 - exactly one month after war broke out. His service papers still survive at the National Archives and show him to have been 5' 8" tall and weighing 120 pounds. He had a sallow complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Arthur gave his religious denomination as Church of England. He had previously served an apprenticeship with the Manchester Guardian and was working as a lithographer producer. Arthur enlisted into the army at Liverpool, joining the third of the Liverpool Pals battalions - it's not known if he was working there at the time or if he travelled for another unknown reason. By now his brother, Charles was living at Gorton Villa, 265 Reddish Road, Stockport (in 2006, the offices of Bouncer Sports). It's not known if this had become the family home.

After training, the Battalion left for France on 7 November 1915. On 22 March 1916, Arthur was admitted to 97 Field Ambulance suffering with ascaris lumbricoides (intestinal roundworms). A couple of days later, he was transferred to the Divisional Rest Station until he was fit enough to return to duty on the 30th.

A month later, Arthur fell ill to a fever and was admitted again to the Field Ambulance. In due course, this was diagnosed to be influenza and he remained away from duty until 17 May.

Arthur must have been dreading the attack which was planned for 11 July. Less than two weeks before, he had gone into action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme - 1 July. Although there had been many casualties, the attack had been a success in the south of the battlefield where Arthur had fought and all the objectives captured. The 11th was intended to be another attack which would gain control of the nearby Trones Wood. Arthur and his comrades would be in support of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and they would only go into action if the Bedfords needed help.

After a heavy artillery bombardment of the Wood, the Bedfords and the other leading units advanced from Bernfray Wood, at dawn, setting out across No Man's Land. In spite of the bombardment, the German were heavily defending Trones Wood and there was fierce fighting all morning.

During the afternoon, No.3 Company of the King's was ordered forward to assist the Bedfords. As they moved across No Man's Land, they came under sniper fire, but they managed to reach the Bedfords. The troops now assaulted a German strong point, but the Battalion War Diary notes the Company was "badly cut up", losing the Company commander and three other officers as well as 64 "other ranks" killed, wounded or missing.

After the fighting, Arthur's body was recovered and buried somewhere near Bernafray Wood. It will have been marked but the area remained a battlefield for many weeks to come and saw fighting again in 1918. Sometime during the war, the grave's location was lost or it was destroyed by shellfire. Arthur now has no known grave and his name is amongst the 72000 inscribed on the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

   
           
   
     
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