Private 36981 Arthur Westwood

Died of Wounds on Monday, 29th April 1918, age 23.
Buried in Grave IX. D. 15. at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

1st/5th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 137th Brigade of 46th Division.
Formerly 36981, 2nd/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.

Son of Albert Richard and Elizabeth Jane Westwood, of 88, Fisher St., Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: West Bromwich, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Salem Chapel, and St. Peter's, Greets Green memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/54945/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Arthur Westwood registered September quarter 1894 in West Bromwich.

1901 Census
88 Fisher Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Albert Westwood (45, Coal Miner - Hewer, born West Bromwich), his wife Elizabeth J. (46, born West Bromwich), and their 1 child: Arthur (6, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
88 Fisher Street, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Albert Westwood (55, Coal Miner - Hewer, born Great Bridge, West Bromwich), his wife Elizabeth J. (56, born Great Bridge, West Bromwich), and 1 of their 3 surviving children of 8: Arthur (16, Glassworks Blower, born Great Bridge, West Bromwich).

Personal Data

After Arthur's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £6/9/9d (6 pounds, 9 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his father, Albert R., in July 1918. His War Gratuity was £4/0/0d (4 pounds and exactly), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Arthur had enlisted in approximately March 1917.

Action resulting in his death

The Germans broke through south of Arras on 21st March 1918 during the Spring Offensive. The 46th Division was ordered to relieve a Canadian Division at Lens on 27th March, suffering severe gas shelling and a vicious air attack on transport lines. The Division was relieved on 11th April.

The Division next took over the line north of La Bassée Canal on the 24th April, afterwards known as Gorre and Essars sectors, extending from near Givenchy on the right, to the Lawe Canal on the left, at the nearest point about two and-a-half miles from Béthune. There were no trenches, just an irregular series of disconnected holes and no communications trenches to hide the troop's movement to the front line. The whole area was perfectly flat, and almost entirely under observation by the Germans, by day no movement was possible and no work could be done, apart from ordinary sentry duty.

The front line marked the limit of the German offensive in April; on the right was the 'Route "A" Keep' sub-sector, one of the old 1915 strong points with two concrete machine-gun emplacements. It was now a mere heap of shattered trees and shattered trenches, undoubtedly the unhealthiest part of the whole Divisional front. The so-called "Keep" was merely the highest ground in the locality, an important tactical feature due to a degree of visibility over the German lines, though having nothing in the way of defences to warrant the term "Keep." There had been considerable fighting over its possession during March and April 1918, in 20 days it changed hands nine times.

On 28th and 29th April, the 1/5th South Staffords made a successful attack on 'Route "A" Keep', the Germans made no further efforts to retake it. Corpses from both sides lay all around, and made the place distinctly unpleasant. Life was made still more unpleasant by constant trench mortaring and shelling, whilst protection slight due to the rudimentary nature of the trench system.

It was most likely that during the actions around 'Route "A" Keep' that Arthur Westwood was wounded and evacuated to Lapugnoy where he died on 29th April. He is buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.

The 1/5th South Staffs had 20 men killed in this sector during April 1918. Two men from Tipton in addition to Arthur Westwood were killed in these actions, Edward Burton on the 28th and Frederick Keating on 29th April.

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