Private 8866 Arthur Palmer

Palmer Arthur 96 373x600Palmer Arthur 96 407x600
Photograph courtesy of Pat Bromley.

Died of Wounds on Monday, 8th March 1915, age 22.
Buried in Grave IV. A. 4. at Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 5th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Husband of A. Weigh (formerly Palmer), of 7, Cleton St., Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs. Native of Tipton.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Dudley Port.

First landed France & Flanders, 24th November 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/61002/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Arthur Palmer registered March quarter 1893 in Dudley.

1901 Census
3 Court 1 House, Coneygree Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Benjamin Palmer (55, Stone Breaker/Road Labourer, born Paris, France), his wife Hannah (51, born Yorkshire), and their 4 children: Moses (30, Mill Furnace Worker, born Tipton), George (18, Iron Works Labourer, born Tipton), Benjamin (14, Straightener in Iron Works, born Tipton) and Arthur (8, born Tipton).

1911 Census
209 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Benjamin Palmer (67, Stone Breaker for the council, born France), his wife Hannah (62, born Yorkshire), and 2 of their surviving 8 children of 14: Moses (42, Iron Worker, born Tipton), and Arthur (18, Labourer at Iron Works, born Tipton). Also Annie Morris (18, Boarder, born Tipton). Arthur and Annie were to marry in 1913.

Arthur and Annie Morris (on the 1911 census as a boarder) had a daughter Harriet born on 30th March 1912, they later married in December quarter 1913. A son, John William, was born on 23rd February 1914, but died on 12th November 1915. Jumping ahead, Arthur's widow remarried another soldier, Leonard Pooler, in July 1917. He was killed in action just a few weeks later on 16th August 1917. Mrs Pooler, as she was then, married again in 1919, and it is this new name - Weigh - which is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Arthur's age is recorded by the CWGC as 26, but was actually 22.

Personal Data

Arthur enlisted on 1st June 1912 at Dudley for six years in the Worcesters Special Reserves. He was aged 19 years and 3 months, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with grey eyes, fair hair, and had a scar on his chin. His religion was given as Church of England, his occupation as labourer, and address as 38 Clayton Street, Dudley Port, Tipton (this would be Cleton Street).

As a Special Reservist, Arthur was recalled to Worcesters at the outbreak of war, and landed in France on 24th November 1914. Here he was posted to the 2nd Worcesters as one of the replacements for the hundreds of 2nd Worcester regulars killed during the severe fighting around Ypres in October 1914, including the famous Worcester's last-ditch stand at Gheluvelt on 31st October 1914.

After Arthur's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £4/18/4d (4 pounds, 18 shillings and 4 pence), this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Annie, in August 1915. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his widow, in June 1919, although by this time she had re-married and was Mrs Annie Pooler. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Arthur had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Arthur's widow, Annie, received a pension of 18/6d (18 shillings and 6 pence) per week for herself and her daughter, commencing on 20th September 1915. The pension ceased on Annie's marriage to Leonard Pooler in July 1917, this was compensated by the payment of a re-marriage grant of £30/18/7d (30 pounds, 18 shillings and 7 pence) which was paid on 25th August 1917 - her new husband had already been killed on 16th August 1917.

Action resulting in his death

Paraphrased from Stacke's 'Worcesters Regiment in the Great War'.
On 28th February 1915, the 2nd Worcesters marched east out of Bethune to trenches near the La Bassée canal at Cuinchy. It was here in the early days of March 1915 that the Worcesters first met with a new peril. Sentries heard a small retort and saw a dark object "like a large whisky bottle" shoot upwards from the German trenches. It fell slowly, twisting and turning over and over in the air, and burst with a crash as it hit the ground. This was the first time that the battalion had encountered the "minenwerfer" or mine launcher, which launched mortars from close distance. This changed the nature of defence as the front-line trenches were always in danger of receiving from one of these dark twirling devices falling amongst them.

The front line trenches were near the infamous 'Brickstacks' at Cuinchy, adjacent to the La Bassée canal. The front line was held with fewer soldiers, and successive lines of defence were constructed to keep soldiers near the front, but less concentrated and so liable fewer casualties from the "minenwerfers". Amid such activity the 2nd Worcesters and the 2nd Highland Light Infantry alternated in the trenches at Cuinchy.

It is likely that Arthur Palmer was wounded in these trenches on the 7th or 8th March and evacuated back to Bethune where we know he died from his wounds on 8th March 1915. The wounds were possibly from "minenwerfer" mortars, but also possibly from rifle fire, or from artillery fire. Arthur is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 20th March 1915
The deaths are reported of two Tipton soldiers in France, they are:
Private H. Pitt of Sedgley Road East, and
Private Arthur Palmer of Cleton Street, Dudley Port.