Arthur E. Webster



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Number: 18651                 Unit: 6th Kings Own Yorkshire
                                                        Light Infantry

Rank: Private                                 Commemorated:
                                              Menin Gate Memorial Ypres



The son of James Andrew Webster, Arthur was just 18 years of age when he died.  He was one of 9 children and was a member of the Kirkstead Wesleyan church.  He left for France on the 21st May 1915 when his battalion was ordered to move overseas.


After enlistment, Arthur found himself drafted into the 6th battalion The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (K.O.Y.L.I.), a Kitchener battalion and part of the new army.  When Lord Kitchener became Secretary for State for War in August 1914, he immediately said we must prepare for three years of War and, straightaway, started to build an army of 70 divisions.  Whilst the regular and territorial armies conducted their own recruiting campaigns, Kitchener commenced to build his “New Army” from men willing to enlist for three years or the duration of the war.  Arthur was one of these many men. The 6th battalion was part of the 43rd Brigade of the 14th Division.  When formed in September 1914, it was first numbered 8th and, as such, it represented the senior New Army Division.  However, due to the increase in size of the regular and territorial armies, it was re-numbered 14th.  The battalion itself was raised in Pontefract and, with the remainder of the Division, it concentrated around the Guilford area in November 1914.  Orders to move overseas were received by the Division in May 1915.  It left for France from Southampton and, by the 25th May, was formed up around Watten, north-west of St. Omar.  During the 30th - 31st July 1915, the Division suffered many loses at Hooge, where the Germans attacked, using liquid fire for the first time.

By September 1915, we find Arthur’s battalion concentrated within the Ypres salient, at a place near to Vlamertinghe.  Arthur was killed in action on the 24th September 1915.  The battalion war diary for that period records the battalion as suffering from heavy shellfire for several days prior to the 24th.  An entry for the 23rd records “shelling on both sides all day, getting very tired of this continued roar all day and look forward to the nights when the guns relax their efforts”.  On the day of the 24th, the diary records its removal from the front during the night of the 23rd/24th arriving at a rest camp, behind the lines, only to receive orders to prepare for an assault to be carried out the next day.  Leaving that night, the battalion was in position at 3.50am on the 25th, ready for the signal to go over the top.  The diary does not record any loses for the 24th and one can only assume Arthur actually died during the shelling sustained during the period 21st-23rd September or as a result of the fighting which occurred on the 25th September.  

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