Arthur WRENCH M.M.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 16026
Unit: 10th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 26 April 1918
Age: 23
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Arthur is one of four brothers who served during the war. Charles and Fred are also remembered on the memorial. He had been born in Cheadle and still lived there with his wife, Charlotte, and their daughter. It's understood that he worked on one of the local farms. He enlisted in Stockport and his service number indicates this was in September 1914.

On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched a massive offensive against the British lines. It was of overwhelming force and, within days, the gains of the previous two years had been lost. The 10th Cheshires were hurried out of reserve into the front line at Morchies, north east of the town of Bapaume in northern France. Arthur was a machine gunner in the Battalion's Lewis gun section. On 23 March, the enemy attacked at 9.30 in the morning, taking part of the front line, but the attack was broken up by rifle and Lewis gun fire. The Battalion's War Diary records that at 3.15pm, the enemy again "attacked vigorously in large numbers in four waves. The attack completely broke up under our intense rifle and Lewis gun fire and not a single man reached our wire." The next day, the Germans had re-enforced and attacked the troops to the right of the Cheshires, causing them to withdraw. This put increased pressure on the Cheshires and, during the afternoon, they were also ordered to withdraw. They undertook this under heavy machine gun fire.

Confirmation that Arthur had been awarded the Military Medal was recorded in the London Gazette, 25 June 1918. He is one of a few members of the 10th Cheshires referred to by name in the official history of the 25th Division as "displaying great bravery in covering the retirement of troops" during these two days. Although the actual details of his award are not recorded, it is reasonable to assume that it was in connection with this battle.

The following month Arthur was killed at the Battle of the Lys.

It's presumed that Arthur's widow returned to her family home in Wilmslow and commemorated her late husband on the town's war memorial. Arthur's mother, Harriet, is known to have been at the unveiling of the Cheadle War Memorial.

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle and Gatley War Memorials website)

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