37 Brigade Advanced HQ, Arras, 9 April 1917

On 9 April 1917, the opening day of the Battle of Arras, 37 Brigade (12th Division) under the command of Brigadier-General Abemarle Bertie Edward Cator, was at its advanced HQ, 51b NW3 Arras G.29.c.7.7, now No. 1 Rue du Temple. The brigade advanced over 1000 yards, took 8 lines of trenches and strongpoints including Hotte and Holt Werks that day.

Given its proximity to the then front line, it is extraordinary that the building stands intact today.

IMG_0862It had clearly been used by a range of units. On the right of the ground floor, in black paint, is written ‘1st DCLI’.

IMG_0856_FotorOn the left is the legend ‘Haircutting Saloon’.

IMG_0855_FotorThis essential (!) activity was re-enacted in 2007.

post-1565-1254358418Around the door are a number of graffiti etched into the brick.

IMG_0858_FotorGeorge Ernest Mustill was born in 1878 in Northampton, married his wife Rose Louise Harding in Plymouth in 1907 where he worked as a furniture shop assistant, and enlisted in Leicester, Gunner 167250 323 Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery. He died 8 days after scratching his name, on 1 September 1918, aged 39. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Vis en Artois memorial. His wife did not remarry and died in 1969.

IMG_0860_FotorJohn Bertie Montague King was a labourer living in Clevedon, Somerset, but had been born in London in 1894. He enlisted Private 16579 in the 12th Battalion, but also served in the 1st, 13th, and 2/4th Gloucestershire Regiment. He entered France on 21 November 1915 and was killed in action on 3 December 1917. His body was not recovered and he is comemmorated on the Cambrai memorial.

IMG_0857_FotorAlbert Edward Bellett, a printer of Hackney, London, attested Private 20064 in the 12th Gloucestershire Regiment on 17 April 1915, aged 19 years 6 months. He returned home on 6 August 1916, sufficiently badly wounded to be discharged in 1917.

Other clear grafitti include (http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=133616&hl=mustill#entry1274833):

‘R Stamp 13th NF Aug 10/18/19th 1916′
Robert Stamp, Private 32/367, 13th & 12/13th Northumberland Fusiliers. He survived the war.

Private 17010 LCpl E Altham, 18 Batt Lancs Fus 6/9/16 BEF’                                    Lance-Corporal 17010 Ernest Altham, 18th Lancashire Fusiliers. A calico print works labourer who enlisted at Blackburn. Killed in action 15 April 1917, aged 22. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

‘E Taylor 67th D’ – Not identified.

‘Pte Hargreaves’ – Not identified.

‘Sgt Booth’ – Not identified.

‘W or IN Searl’ – Not identified.

‘F Wide, 15 Platoon, D Company, 12 Glosters’
22652 Private Frederick Wide, 12th Gloucestershire Regiment, landed in France 24 December 1915. He survived the war.

‘Pte F S Hine E S Regt 1916’                                                                                          Lance-Corporal Frederick Hine, enlisted Kingston-on-Thames no. 2014 9th East Surrey Regiment. He landed in France 6 October 1915 but was Killed in Action 3 September 1916. His remains were not recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

’12 Gloster Pte R I Brayley‘                                                                                              Born in Swansea in 1884, Richard Isaac Brayley was a married fish merchant with 2 children. Private 260417 12th Gloucestershire, ex 202173 Monmouthshire Regiment. Killed in Action 4 October 1917, at Ypres aged 34. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial.

‘RD Oliver 26 MGC’                                                                                                                   Richard D Oliver enlisted Private S/2533, Seaforth Highlanders and entered France 10 May 1915. He was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps Corporal 17395. He survived the war.

‘A Newsom 223825 Vive la France’ – Not identified.

Thus, of the nine identified, five died and none of their bodies were recovered. Eerily, only about 2 deaths might be expected by chance and in terms of unrecovered bodies, less than 2 of the 5 might be expected by chance.The graffiti are truly their memorial.


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