Arthur Platt Chance
Rank: Private
Number: 27760
Unit: 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
Date of Death: 11 April 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerch, Nord, France

The commemoration of Arthur’s service during the War suffers certainly one indignity and, possibly two. Firstly, his name is inscribed on the Stockport War Memorial wrongly as C A Platt. Secondly, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records the date of his death as 9 April, whilst regimental records published after the War show it as the 11th.

There is certainly confusion in the records over his surname. In the first quarter of 1890, Arthur Platt married Ada Howard in Edmonton, Middlesex. However, by 1893, the family appears to have been using the name Chance and the birth of the future soldier was registered, in 1893, as Arthur Robert Chance. He was their second child and had an older brother, Ernest.

The 1901 Census shows that the family had moved to the Stockport area by then and was living at 16 Todd Street. The move had been very recent as, whilst 2 year old Winifred had been born in Edmonton, eleven month old Constance had been born in Stockport. Military records all show Arthur’s surname as Chance and, indeed, Ada was using this surname at the time of the Great War when she was living at 12 Church Road, Heaton Norris. In a further twist to the name, the local newspaper, published his photograph after his death and recorded the name as Platt-Chance.

It is not know what occupation Arthur followed and it is believed he was unmarried when he enlisted into the army at Stockport. He was assigned to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (service number 24325) but never served abroad with the Regiment. No doubt, he was transferred to the Fusiliers when he had completed training. 

As mentioned earlier, official records conflict over his date of death and it is not possible to be sure which is correct. On 9 April 1918, the Germans opened the second phase of their spring offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Lys (after the nearby river). As in the first phase which had opened on 21 March, the attack was devastatingly successful with British forces being overrun and captured or forced back along a wide front.

On this day, Arthur and his comrades were in reserve positions at Kortepyp Camp near Neuve Eglise. Shortly after midday, they were ordered to “stand to” and be ready to move into action at short notice. The Regimental History notes that they moved forward to near Bac St Maur where they engaged the advancing Germans. Casualties were, of course, suffered and this may have been when Arthur was killed. There was further fighting on the 10th which forced a retreat in the middle of the afternoon to positions at Steenwerck where they took up defensive positions near to the railway line.

The Regimental History describes what happened on the day this author believes Arthur was killed. At 7.55 the Battalion “was ordered to advance with a view to straightening the line and clearing the outskirts of Steenwerck. The movement began in a mist and was at first successful, the fringe of the village being captured after severe hand-to-hand fighting with heavy casualties on both sides. CSM R Abbott set a splendid example and penetrated further into the village than anybody else bringing back valuable information about the enemy. The gains could not, however, be held owing to the intensity of the fire directed against the Battalion, which withdrew about midday and dug in on a line appreciably further forward than its original position of that morning with its right at Pont de Pierre.”

Arthur’s burial at Steenwerck seems to support the suggestion that it was the 11th when he was killed.

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