Arthur Reginald EARDLEY
Rank: Private
Number: G/69822
Unit: 1st Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 21 March 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt, Somme, France

Arthur is the only known child of Edward and Annie Eardley. The family originated from Mow Cop on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border but, by the time of the 1901 Census, was living at 1 Farmer Street, Lancashire Hill and Edward was earning his living as a wood sawyer.

He enlisted in the town, no doubt as a conscript when he became 18. A major German spring offensive had been long expected since the beginning of 1918.  What was not expected was the strength and ferocity with which it would be delivered on the morning of 21 March.

The enemy artillery barrage opened along miles of front at 4.30am and the Fusiliers immediately moved from their billets at Vendelles to take up their battle positions east of the village. "A" and "B" Companies went into the front line with "C" and "D" in close support. They were then subjected to gas shelling and the men had to put on their gas masks for about an hour. Heavy shelling continued for most of the day but, in this sector, there was no infantry attack by the Germans. However, reports were being received of British positions being overrun elsewhere and, as a precaution , orders were issued for the Battalion to withdraw back to Vendelles.

Compared with many other Battalions, the Fusiliers had got off lightly, it's War Diary noting that two officers had been killed and "a few casualties in the ranks". Arthur was one of them.

When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Mr & Mrs Eardley had returned to Staffordshire and were living at 1 Mow Cop.

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