Private Arthur Wright Howard PLANT


Regiment/Service:
The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit:
1st/10th (Scottish) Battalion
[3rd Platoon, 'V' Company]
Service Number:
357204
Date of Death:
31 July 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
26
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 4 & 6


Personal History:
Arthur was born in the September quarter 1890 at Taylor's Passage, off Matlock Street, Bakewell, the son of Arthur (Veterinary Surgeon) and Ada (née Wright) Plant (1891 Census RG 12/2773). Arthur Snr. had been born in Buxton

Ten years later the family were still living in Bakewell, but had moved to 47 Granby Road. (1901 Census RG 13/3262) Arthur was educated at Lucton School, Herefordshire, and was "affectionally called" 'Ponty'.
In 1911 (Census RG 14/17551) Arthur had left home and was lodging with the Perks family at 4 Lea Street, Kidderminster, where he was employed as an: "Apprentice Motor & Cycle Trade". His mother had died in the March quarter 1904 and his father had moved back to Queens Villa, Chapel Street, Buxton (Census RG 14/21243) In August and September 1914 Arthur Snr. had helped to requisition local horses for the Army, but died on the 31st October 1915, shortly before his son enlisted. Probate Records show he left £3212 8s 7d [£3212.43] to his son, Arthur Wright Howard, who was described as an "Engineer". (This amount represents a relative value of about £224,600.00 today - 2014.)

Military History:
Arthur enlisted into The King's (Liverpool Regiment) at Buxton. His Medal Index Card gives no indication when he entered the War, indicating it was after 31st December 1915, as he did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star. 'The Buxton Advertiser', 18th August 1917, reported that he "... joined up nearly two years ago ..." and that "... upon the death of his father ... he showed a determination to join the Army which nothing could have stopped." Arthur, Senior, died on the 31st October 1915, so taking the two statements together would suggest an enlistment date in late 1915 / early 1916.

The 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion had been formed in August 1914 in Fraser Street, Bootle, as part of the South Lancashire Brigade, West Lancashire Division. On the 2nd November 1914 it landed at Le Havre and transferred to 9th Brigade, 3rd Division. On the 6th January 1916 the Battalion transferred again to the 166th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

Arthur's Division had a relatively "quiet" period before the Division moved into the Battle of the Somme, it nonetheless suffered casualties of 63 officers and 1047 men killed, wounded or missing. It could be that it was around this time that he joined the Battalion as part of a reinforcement. On the 25th July 1916, the 55th moved south and took up a place in the front line opposite the village of Guillemont.

During the Battle of the Somme itself Arthur would have taken part in the actions at The Battle of Guillemont (4th - 6th September) and The Battle of Ginchy (9th September). There was a short period of rest at Ribemont from the 12th to 17th September, before being in action again during The Battle of Flers-Courcelette (17th -22nd September) and The Battle of Morval (25th - 28th September). At one of these engagements "The Advertiser" reported that Arthur "... went through the Battle of the Somme and was wounded in the arm and neck with shrapnel." and had had to return to England.

The first half of 1917 was spent in the salient, which had a comparatively quiet time, if being surrounded by enemy on three sides and under constant artillery fire could be described as quiet. The next major action was to cost Arthur his life - The Battle of Pilkem Ridge (31st July - 2nd August), a phase of the Third Battles of the Ypres. Between the 30th July and 4th August, in the Division's attack in the area of Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms, no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men were killed, wounded or missing.

This included 53 Officers and men of the 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion, 45 of whom, including Arthur were killed in action on the 31st July. On the 5th August 1917 Sergeant F. C. Pugh, of Arthur's Company, wrote to his aunt "Mrs C.P. Plant, Penzance Villa, Hartington Road", describing how Arthur had met his end. The content of the letter was reproduced by 'The Buxton Advertiser' when reporting his death on the 18th August 1917, and said in part:

your nephew … was killed in action on Tuesday morning last, July 31st. He was hit in the head by a bullet, death being instantaneous, and I can assure you he suffered no pain whatever. I have been his Platoon Sergeant since your nephew came out to France for the second time, and have always found him a very cheerful and reliable soldier, always willing to do anything that was asked of him." [Presumably the "… second time …" spoken of referred to him re-joining his Battalion after being wounded during the Battle of the Somme (see above).]

2nd Lieutenant B.P.G. Allsop, Arthur's C.O., also wrote to Mrs Plant, expressing his condolences, adding: "He was in my own Platoon, and despite his physique was a very keen and willing soldier. I particularly noticed him during the attack on several occasions, and he was perfectly cool, with an utter disregard for any danger."

'The Buxton Advertiser' also stated that Arthur had been: "Buried a few miles behind the British lines and in time a suitable cross will mark the spot of his last resting place.". If this was the case his grave has now been lost and Arthur is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, along with 42 of his comrades, killed at this time.

                                 

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 18 August 1917

Link to CWGC Record
The Menin Gate Memorial
Pt Arthur Plant's name on the Memorial
poppy
.... about the Battle of Pilkem Ridge