Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private William Frederick Christy Arthur



William Frederick Christy Arthur was born on 14 June 1897 at Dergalt, Strabane, County Tyrone, the seventh of eight children of farmer John Arthur and his wife Eliza Jane (nee Colhoun). By 1911 he was living with his family at Douglas Bridge, Shanonny West, County Tyrone.

Arthur enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 15 November 1915 (No.1873). He embarked for France in 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to either the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, together with some from the 1st Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Arthur was issued regimental number 41366.

It is likely that Arthur saw action with the battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, and perhaps also in the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 and at Ypres in April that year during the German spring offensive.

In the early hours of 22 July 1918 Arthur's battalion attempted a major raid on the German lines, the object being a strong point called Shoddy Farm at Meulenhouck, near Bailleul on the Ypres front. Arthur was one of those who took part. By 12.27 a.m. the raiding party had got quietly into position, but fifteen minutes later it was spotted by the enemy, who sent up SOS flares:

His barrage came down in No Man’s Land and M.Gs opened from the road running N.E. from La Bourse and the house at [Wirral Farm]. On barrage starting the raiding party at once opened L.G. fire and moved forward: at the same time our barrage was phoned for and came down at 12.50 a.m. Throughout the raid there was very heavy fighting, the enemy garrison being estimated at about 70–100 men with 5 M.Gs. One prisoner and 2 M.Gs were captured, the second M.G. was lost owing to bearer becoming a casualty. Enemy casualties estimated about 30. Our casualties were 2 Officers and 4 O.Rs missing and 11 wounded.

Arthur was one of the missing. Search parties were sent out but could find no trace of them. The bodies of the four other ranks were located later that year after the area was captured – the Germans had buried them in the grounds of Shoddy Farm (map reference 28.S.8.a.6.5), marking each with a cross. After the war all four bodies, including that of Private Arthur, were exhumed and re-buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France, grave III.F.108. (In the picture below, Arthur's grave is in the front row, fourth from the left.) His grave inscription reads:

22ND JULY 1918



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