Sapper 313296 Arthur Hale

Hale Arthur 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Thursday, 21st February 1918, age 29.
Buried in Grave C. 23. at Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

Royal Engineers, 3rd Field Survey Company.
Formerly 11130 South Staffs Regiment.

Husband of Mrs Sarah Hale, 11 Cricket Meadow, Upper Gornal, Dudley.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed Balkans, 20th October 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because at one time a Tipton resident.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/275285/

Genealogical Data

Most likely, but not definitive.
1901 Census
20 St. John's Street, Dudley, Worcs.
William Hale (38, Plasterer, born Wombourne), his wife Emma (37, born Dudley), and their 8 children: Sarah (22, born Dudley), John (21, Carter, born Dudley), Edward (16, Brass Filer, born Dudley), Arthur (14, born Dudley), William (10, born Dudley), Elsie (6, born Dudley), Frederick (4, born Dudley), and Leonard Clifford (1, born Dudley).

1911 Census
63 Tividale Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Edward Thomas Hale (25, Packer, born Dudley), and his brother Arthur Thomas Hale (23, Clerk, born Dudley).
NB There is a slight hyphen between the Thomas and Hale on the census, so could refer to a surname Thomas-Hale. However there is no identified reason why this should be the case.

Marriage of Arthur Hale and Sarah Flavell registered March quarter 1914, in Dudley.

Personal Data

A Hale is commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial, the 'Staffordshire Roll of Honour' records A Hale, Private South Staffs. For many years the only possibility looked like this man, Arthur Hale, killed serving with the Royal Engineers, previously Private 11130 in the South Staffs. As he landed in the Balkans on 20th April 1915, he would have been with the 7th South Staffs.

In 2020 I was contacted by the great grandson of Alfred Hale who had died from Tuberculosis in 1918, after having been discharged from the South Staffs in 1916 due to sickness. It was suggested that the A. Hale on the Tipton Memorial would have been Alfred, and I agree. The difficulty in finding Alfred was because he is not commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and so did not look like a military death.

Arthur Hale’s connection with Tipton looks slight. If the above genealogy is correct, then he was living in Tipton in 1911. His widow, Sarah, was living in Upper Gornal in 1918-1919, so possibly he had been living there too. Regardless, it is worth leaving his details here.

Arthur was born in Dudley, and the census information given above is only the best option available. This shows the Hale family living in Dudley in 1901, but by 1911 the brothers Edward and Arthur living together at Tividale Road, Tipton. This is the most likely scenario, but it is not guaranteed!

After Arthurs's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £10/15/11d (10 pounds, 15 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his widow, Sarah, in March 1918. His War Gratuity was £16/0/0d (16 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Sarah in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Arthur had enlisted in approximately September 1914.

Sarah received a Widow's pension, this was 13/9d (13 shillings and 9 pence) per week from 2nd September 1918, 18/5d per week from 15th February 1919 and then 21/1d per week from 3rd September 1919. Additionally she received a grant of £5 which was paid on 9th March 1918.

Action resulting in his death

The 4 Field Survey Companies of the Royal Engineers were formed in France in March 1916, they were responsible for surveying and map production. As well as being important for the Infantry, this was particularly important for the Royal Artillery. The Artillery could rarely see their targets and needed accurate and up-to-date maps to calculate the necessary gunnery settings. As techniques evolved to identify the locations of enemy artillery, they also became responsible for sound-ranging and flash-spotting in Observation Posts.

At the beginning of 1918 it became apparent that the Germans would launch an offensive in the Spring. This would utilise their troops released from the Eastern Front following the Russian withdrawal from the war, aiming for a breakthrough before the American numbers made a German defeat inevitable. The Field Survey Companies were involved in the necessary preparation for the defensive positions that would be required.

The circumstances of Arthur Hale’s death are not known as no War Diary exists for the 3rd Field Survey Company. He would have been working in an area around 8 miles to the east of the 1916 Somme battlefield as he is buried in Neuville-Bourjonval British Cemetery, in the Pas de Calais Département.

Newspaper Cuttings