Walkley History

News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.

Arthur Wall – Sheffield Pals and Northumberland Fusiliers

Arthur Wall was born around 1890, the son of Thomas and Mary Wall. He had five elder siblings, Thomas W, Clara, Nellie, Herbert and Lily and two younger sisters Edith and Elizabeth. Both Lily and Elizabeth died young. In 1891 he was living at 2 Red Hill Place, between Solly Street and Broad Lane in Netherthorpe and in the 1901 census the family are listed at 354 Springvale Road. By 1911 the Walls were living at 28 Fir Street, a terrace house opposite the Reform Club.

Arthur Wall on the 1911 census

Arthur Wall on the 1911 census

Prior to the war Arthur was, like his father, a silversmith. He married Bertha Briggs in 1913 and they subsequently lived at 184 Hoole Street.

Arthur was initially in the 12th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. Reconstructing his war history has been made more difficult as it is likely that his personal Service Record was one of the many that were destroyed by enemy action in WWII. It has not been possible to discover when he transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers, other than, from the evidence of his three service numbers, it was on or after 1st March 1917. It may have have been as late as September 29th 1917, the last date before Arthur’s death that the 26th battalion of the Fusiliers received reinforcements. Originally the Fusiliers recruited exclusively from the Irish community of the Northumberland and Durham coalfield. However such were their losses at the battle of the Somme, they needed replacements that were neither from the North-East or with links to Ireland, hence soldiers like Arthur joining them.

By October 1917, the Fusiliers had already fought that year at the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the battle of Arleux and in the fighting at Hargicourt. On October 12th the Fusiliers were entrained to Boesinghe, a small Flanders village north of the city of Ypres. Upon arrival, the battalions marched in cold and wet weather to Stray Farm, meeting a sea of mud. There Arthur and his comrades were to relieve the 4th Division at Poelcapelle.other than, from the evidence of his three service numbers, it was on or after 1st March 1917. It may have have been as late as September 29th 1917, the last date before Arthur’s death that the 26th battalion of the Fusiliers received reinforcements. Originally the Fusiliers recruited exclusively from the Irish community of the Northumberland and Durham coalfield. However such were their losses at the battle of the Somme, they needed replacements that were neither from the North-East or with links to Ireland, hence soldiers like Arthur joining them.

By October 1917, the Fusiliers had already fought that year at the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the battle of Arleux and in the fighting at Hargicourt. On October 8th the Battalion left the Peronne sector (the French town they had spent most of September near to) by train and travelled to Poperinghe, roughly six miles west of the Belgian town of Ypres. By October 12th the battalion had marched in cold, wet weather up to the frontline near Stray Farm. The conditions were described as “very bad…half flooded with water…one sea of mud”. There Arthur and his comrades were to relieve the 4th Division at Poelcapelle, before the battalion itself was relieved on October 16th.

It is not certain how Arthur Wall died but it is known he did on 14th October 1917, aged 27 or 28. He was by then a private in the Fusiliers. He was one of several men reported missing on that date and his body was never found. The circumstances of his disappearance and death will probably never be known since, almost by definition, no eye witness accounts of what happened to him have survived.

He is commemorated at Tyne Cot memorial, outside Passendale near Zonnebeke. There is a cemetery there for the dead of the Ypres Salient battle on the Western Front. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery is the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing and Arthur’s name is inscribed on here, as one of almost 35000 men who died within the Ypres Salient during WWI but whose bodies were never recovered. The name Tyne Cot is reputed to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers seeing a resemblance between the German concrete pill boxes, which still stand in the middle of the cemetery, and typical Tyneside workers’ cottages.

As well as in the window of Fir Street, Arthur is on the St Stephen’s Church Roll of Honour in Fawcett Street, Netherthorpe. He posthumously received two medals, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Arthur’s widow Bertha re-married in 1919, to a Harry Bennett. Their descendants include a grandson and great grandson, the current whereabouts of whom are unknown. Blood relatives of Arthur known still to be alive are the granddaughter of his elder brother Herbert, the grandson of his younger sister Edith and the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Thomas, his eldest brother. Unfortunately we have been unable to find any identifiable photographs of Arthur Wall.

By John Chapman

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About Bill Bevan

Bill Bevan is an archaeologist, writer, photographer and heritage interpreter.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2014 by in First World War.
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