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Arthur Walters

Date of birth: 1888
Date of death: 1948
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: West Yorkshire
Family information: Husband of Rhoda nee Mattison
Rank: Corporal
Service number: 14006

War Service

During World War 1 Arthur served in the Army. He was in the 11th (Service) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (No. 14006) and served as a Corporal. The ‘service’ indicates that it was a wartime battalion only and it was mostly made up miners. The battalion was formed in York on 10/10/1914 as part of Kitchener’s 3rd Army (K3) and was attached to the 69th Brigade of the 23rd Division. They entered the ‘Theatre of War’ (France) on 26/8/1915 landing at Le Havre to serve in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements.
· Battle of Albert. 1-13 July including the capture of Montauban, Mametz, Fricourt, Contalmaison and La Boisselle.
· Battle of Bazentin. 14-17 July, including the capture of Longueval, Trones Wood and Ovillers.
· Battle of Pozieres. 23 July including the fighting for Mouquet Farm.
· Battle of Flers-Courcelette. 15-22 September, including the capture of Martinpuich.
· Battle of Morval. 25-28 Sep, including the capture of Combles, Lesboeufs and Gueudecourt.
· Battle of Le Transloy. 1-18 October, including the capture of Eaucourt l’Abbaye, Le Sars and the attacks on Butte de Warlencourt.
· Battle of Messines. 7-14 June, including the capture of Wytschaete.
· Battle of the Menin Road. 20-25 September.
· Battle of Polygon Wood. 26 Sep-3 October 1917.
· First Battle of Passchendaele. 12 October 1917.
Second Battle of Passchendaele. 26 Oct-10 November 1917.
On 26th October, GHQ in France received an urgent order from London, directing Sir Douglas Haig to send two Divisions to Italy as quickly as possible. The Italian Army had suffered a shattering reverse when attacked at Caporetto (Isonzu River in NE Italy) and was in danger of collapse. The Supreme Inter-Allied War Council had advised moving British and French reserve forces into the Italian theatre. The 23rd and 41st Divisions, both about to be relieved, were selected and took part in the following.
· Asiago Plateau. 15-16 Jun 1918.
· Passage of the Piave. 23 Oct-4 Nov 1918.
· Passage of the Monticano. 29 Oct 1918.
On 2 November the Division came out onto XIV Corps Reserve and when the Armistice took effect in Italy at 3pm on 4 November, units were halted midway between the Rivers Livenza and Meduna, east of Sacile.
Arthur was, at some stage - probably whilst in France, promoted to the rank of Sergeant and it was at this rank that his medals were awarded. He was entitled to the three medals often referred to as ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’, but recorded on the British Army Medal Rolls Index Card as The Victory, British (war) and 1915 Star.
His Medal Index card also shows that he was in Class Z upon discharge. Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised particularly those who had agreed to serve "for the duration", were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Family Life

The earliest trace of the Walters can be found in Ripley, Derbyshire where in the late 18th Century (1700’s) a George Walters was born. He later went on to marry a woman called Charlotte and they had at least 5 children. They were Mary (1818), Hannah (30/6/1822), George (15/1/1826), Ann (5/4/1829) and John (16/9/1832). At present nothing more is known about George and Charlotte and it is possible that they both died prior to 1841.
In 1851 18 year old John was to be found living in North Wingfield, Derbyshire. He was in the house of his sister Mary and her husband Griffin Shawcroft and their children Charlotte (14), Hannah (8), Herbert (3) and Mary (1 month). The two men were both employed as miners.
At the time mining was both a dangerous activity and a family one. Miners were paid on the basis of the amount of coal they brought out of the mine and because no single miner could do all the tasks involved the money earned had to be shared out. Consequently by working in family teams the money was kept in the family rather than being distributed.
Miners went down the shaft in a “cage” - a primitive lift dropped on a long cable, wound up by a steam engine. They sometimes walked miles to the coal-face. This travel was in their own time, since they were only paid for the coal they dug. Where families worked a particular stretch, children as young as 5 would sit in the pitch black and open and close the trap-doors that were essential for proper ventilation and for the movement of coal to the main shaft. The men hacked out the coal by pick and shovel, often aided by their wives. Older children loaded coal into trucks, which were hauled to the shaft by miserable pit ponies that lived and died underground. Each family would have to attach a token to a truck in order to ensure that they would be credited with the load.
Until 1874, miners' children started work in the pit at a young age - then a law made the minimum age 12. Deep below ground it was hot, dusty and wet - though steam-engines worked night-and-day pumping water out of the mines. Every few days, the miners had to shore up their tunnel with timber pit props. They lost money because they were not digging coal. If they hit a break in the coal seam - there are many geological faults in this coalfield - they would lose more money while they dug tunnels to find the coal seam. At the pit-head, coal was cleaned and sorted. This was a job for women and older or injured miners who could still work. Coal was dumped into railway trucks to be taken away by a never-ending stream of trains. Waste stone piled up on the slag heap.
John Walters married Emma Johnson about 1851. Emma was from North Wingfield and the couple settled there to have a large family.
John and Emma Walters had a total of 11 children who were all christened in North Wingfield. They were – William Henry Walters (2/5/1852), Eliza Ann Walters (30/1/1853), John Walters (11/9/853), George Walters (28/1/855), Elizabeth Walters (7/9/1856), Rowley Walters (13/5/1859), Levi Walters (15/1/1860), Charlotte Walters (24/3/1861), Reuben Walters (8/2/1863), Agnes Walters (3/9/1865) and Harriet Walters (22/5/1870).
1861 – John and Emma were still residing in North Wingfield with the first 8 of their children and John was a coal miner - a trade he was to follow all his working life. Eliza Ann and Elizabeth are not mentioned in the census records and as they were far too young to be working they were either away from home with relatives or had perished in infancy.
1871 - The family had moved a few miles south to Shirland, probably after 1865 as Agnes was born that year in North Wingfield. Harriet was born in Shirland.
1881 - Emma can be found living in Brunswick Street, Pilsley which is West of Chesterfield. With her were five of the children (Agnes, George, Harriet, Levi & Reuben.) The three men were all coal miners. Also with her was a grandson called Johnny. His father may have been George who is stated as being married but his wife was not present at the time of the census. John is not present either but it is possible that he may have been working as Emma is still described as married and not a widow. Son Rowley and his wife, also called Emma, lived in Strawcrofts in Pilsley.
3rd March 1874 – William Henry Walters married Harriet Randle at St Saviours Church, Nottingham where both had been residing at Novella Street. Harriet had actually been born in Walsall, Staffordshire.
1881 – William Henry Walters, usually referred to as Henry, was living in 15 Victoria Road, New Street, Rawmarsh near Rotherham where he was employed as a coalminer. Prior to marrying Henry, Harriet had been employed by George Unthank in Biddulph who was a farmer of 73 acres.
They already had 4 children - John (6) born in Pilsley, Mary A.(5) born in Heanor, Derbyshire, Samuel (3) born at Pilsley and Emma (2) born at Parkgate, Rawmarsh.
21st April 1885 - Henry and Harriet had another son called Levi, born at Royston Hill, Hoyland near Barnsley.
24th July 1887 - The couple had a further son called Arthur, also born at Royston
No trace has been found, to date, of Henry and Harriet and family in the 1891 census. However in 1901 Henry and sons Levi and Arthur were lodging at 5 Ascot Street in the parish of All Saints in South East Leeds. Henry was a widower and still working as a coal miner. They were lodging with a woman called Sarah Goodall who had two young children.
On the 30th November 1907 21 year old Arthur Walters married 19 year old Rhoda Mattison in Brotherton Parish Church. Henry, who would have been 55 was still alive at the time of the marriage, as was the bride’s father Thomas. All the men - Henry, Thomas and Arthur - were employed as miners.
By 1911 the couple had one son - Randall Renton aged 1 (1909-1983). Also living with them was Henry aged 60.
Thomas Arthur James Walters had been born in 1908 but died in 1909.
Arthur and Rhoda had further children - John Alfred Walters (Jack) (1912 -1978), Arthur Mattison Walters (1915- 1916) Levi Walters (1918 - 1919), William Walters (1919 - 1972), Frank Walters (1921 -1988), Edna May Walters (1922 -), Arthur Walters (1924 -). Fred Walters (1926 - ) and Ted Walters (1927 – 2002).
After the War Arthur returned to Brotherton and resumed his occupation as a miner and adding to his family. When World War 2 started he again applied to join the Army but was turned down on account of his age (52). However, he obtained a post as a security guard on the Byram Park Estate which had been taken over by the Army and was used, amongst other things, as a depot for distributing vehicles made by the Hillman and Humber Companies. A later photograph of Arthur shows him wearing a dark coat with the names Hillman and Humber embroidered on the lapels.
He took his duties very seriously as the following tale proves. One day, whilst manning the gates he noticed a small group of young boys scaling the fence to gain access to the woods where walnuts and sweet chestnuts could be gathered. With his booming Sergeant’s voice he stopped them in their tracks and duly announced that he knew who they were and that he knew all their parents. He further informed them that he was going to get on the telephone and that when they got home they would all be in serious trouble. All the culprits were most concerned and beat a retreat with tails between their legs.
Now, although illustrating his conscientiousness the tale also illustrates the fact that he must have had a sense of humour - not that the boys would have picked up on it at the time. Firstly, hardly anyone had a telephone including him. Secondly, three of the four boys were his own sons - Ted, Arthur and Fred. They must have been really looking forward to dad coming home that night.
Arthur died in 1948 at home. Apparently he had trouble with his bowels for a long number of years and was a regular user of a natural, herbal remedy called cascara. Although there is no indication that this had any serious side effects it would seem that Arthur’s bowel haemorrhaged and because of delay in getting him to a hospital he bled to death.
Rhoda died on 16th August 1950 at her home - 15 Marsh Croft, Brotherton. The cause of death was listed as 1[a] Cerebral Haemorrhage [b] Arterio Sclerosis. The Refuge Assurance Society paid out a sum of £20.0s.0d.
Of the eleven children it is known that 3 died in infancy and 7 went on to adulthood. Of these, three (Randall, Jack and Fred) spent all their lives in Brotherton/Byram whilst Edward spent a few years in Hensall before returning for the rest of his life. Edna May remained in the area, Arthur spent many years in Huddersfield whilst Frank and Bill moved south.

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