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Friday, 9 June 2017

In Memory of Arthur Robert Titheradge died at Ypres 9 June 1917

Today, 9 June 2017, let us remember Arthur Robert Titheradge Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery 234th Siege Battery who died 100 years ago today in the First World War, the only member of the Titheradge branch of the family to die in World War One.  

This is the story of Arthur and his family.

Arthur’s Parents and Siblings 

Arthur Titheradge was the eldest son of Robert Arthur Titheradge and Alice Amelia Marion Viney.  He was one of seven children, five of whom reached adulthood.  The picture to the left is the only picture we have of Arthur, it was taken around 1900 and shows Robert and Alice with 4 of their children, Arthur is top right.  The family lived in London and all the children were all born in Paddington area.  The children were

Arthur Robert Titheradge born 2 February 1887, died 9 June 1917 in Ypres, France.
William Charles Titheradge born 10 July 1888, died September 1963 in Cuckfield, Sussex. 
Walter James Titheradge born 31 May 1890; died aged 2 in September 1892 in Paddington.
Laura Marion Titheradge born 10 July 1893, London; died when less than a year old in March 1894.
Dorothy Alice Titheradge born 11 July 1896, died December 1977 in Paignton, Devon.
Eric George Titheradge born 5 July 1898, died in 1957 in Simonstown, South Africa.
Winifred Marion Titheradge was born 18 August 1902, she died in 1955. 

Robert and Alice and family moved around the Paddington area of London on a regular basis. 
1886 Robert and Alice were residing at 4 Caroline Place, Bayswater when they married.
1887 at Arthur’s birth the family were living at 172 Queens Road.
1890 at Walter’s birth, the family had moved to 41 Caroline Place.
1891 on the census Robert and Alice and three children are living at 86 Westbourne Park Road, Paddington, 
1896 at Dorothy’s birth, they were at 186 Queens Road Paddington.  They were still at this address on the 1911 census.
1914 Robert and Alice have moved to 20 Grosvenor Avenue East Sheen, but are still keeping the property in Queens Road as a business premises. 

Robert started working life in the Royal Navy leaving in 1885.  After leaving the navy In 1887 his occupation was given as caretaker but by 1890 it had changed to stationer.  By 1891 he is a bookseller and is known to have also sold ecclesiastical goods and books at his shop at 186 Queens Road.  By 1910 he also published books, evidenced by a book recently on sale on eBay “100 Photographs of London published by Titheradge of 186 Queen’s Road”.  There is picture available on the web of an advertising bookmark which referred to Titheradge and Co as bookbinders, book sellers and stationers.  The bookmark advertises Onoto fountain pens at a cost of ten shillings and six pence.  Robert was known to be a friend and business neighbour of William Whiteley founder of the William Whiteley Limited retailers whose department store became the Whiteleys shopping centre. 

Robert died aged 54 on 19 September 1915 leaving £553 6s 3d in his will, his widow Alice lived another 28 year dying in 1943.

Arthur’s life before the army

Arthur attended St Matthews National School in Westminster for junior boys.  He was admitted on 20 October 1890 aged 3 years and 9months.  He had left school by the time he was 15 and in 1902 was appointed as a boy clerk for the Postal Service Savings Bank.  In February 1907 he was appointed as an assistant clerk working for the Board of Education. 

From my research I get the impression that Arthur had grown up in a very intellectual family with a much better education than the average family of the time.  The family appear to have a great love of books, they are greatly involved in the church and are very talented musically.  Both Arthur and his brother William are both known to play the organ and William also studied music.  All this is quite an achievement considering Robert was educated in the “Orphan Working School” in Maitland Park after the death of his father who was a painter (decorator).

Arthur met his wife Mabel Catherine Bramley at church, where he was the organist and she sang in the choir.  Twenty four year old Robert married Mabel on 6 September 1911 at the parish church of St Matthews Bayswater, at the time of the wedding he was living at 39 Bank Place, Bayswater.  His brother William was witness at the wedding.

Just over a year later Arthur and Mabel’s daughter Enid Marion Titheradge was born on 10 November 1912.

Arthur’s Military Service - World War 1

Arthur was 29 when he was called up to the army to fight in World War one.  On 1 June 1916 he enlisted for the duration of the war.  On his enrollment papers he was described as being five foot six and three quarters with a 36 inch chest.  He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery with the rank of gunner.  During his training in 1916 he passed signalling on 1 September and signalling telephoning on 18 September both first class passes. He became part of the 234th Siege battery.  Siege batteries were deployed behind the front line and tasked with destroying enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores. Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory.  The Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. 

Arthur was posted to France on 25 January 1917.  He sailed from Southampton and arrived at Le Havre on 26 January 1917. He was to spend just 134 days in France and Belgium, 38 days of which he was injured and in hospital.

His first injury was on 18 February when he was admitted to hospital. having been injured in the field. He spent a month on the wounded list until he was discharged to duty on 19 March 1917.  

Arthur re-joined the 234th siege battalion and on 1st June 1917 he was wounded in the field and admitted to hospital.  We are yet to find out exactly where he was fighting but according to his daughter Enid he was killed at Ypres.  I have found a record that the 234th siege battery were involved in action at Messines, Flanders on the 6th June, Messines being 6 miles south of Ypres.  The Battle of Messines took place on the 7th June 1917.  Another reference states that as a preliminary to the Battle of Messines there was artillery bombardment of the German Lines, beginning on 21 May, involving 2300 guns and heavy mortars, which was one of the heaviest artillery bombardment on the war.  It therefore seems likely the Arthur was involved in this action preliminary action.

Arthur’s records show that after his injury he was moved to The Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, France (near Boulogne) some 80 miles away from Ypres.  Injured soldiers were moved away from the front lines to the hospital. Etaples being a place selected for a hospital because it was relatively safe from attack and had railway access to the battlefields.  Robert died at Etaples of his wounds on 9 June 1917.  His service record does not state the nature of his wounds but the cemetery records say “died of wounds (gas)”.  He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Etaples, Plot 25, Row H, Grave 268 a cemetery which contains 10,771 burials from World War 1.  

Arthur’s medal card shows that he was awarded two medals The Victory Medal and The British Medal.

Arthur’s daughter Enid had the memorial scroll commemorating her father.  Memorial scrolls were sent to the next of kin of those killed in action. It reads 
“He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten

It appears the family did not know where Arthur was buried and in 1921 Arthur’s sister Dorothy wrote to the war graves commission to ask where her brother was buried, below is a scan of their reply.

Life for those left behind

Arthur’s widow Mabel Catherine was left with four and half year old Enid to bring up alone From Arthur’s will we know that he left £334 10s 2d.  We assume Mabel was reasonably well off as we have several share certificates belonging to her.  At the time of Arthur’s service she was living at 4 Park Lane Wallington Surrey and after his death at 7 Dalmore Road West Dulwich London.  

Three years after Arthur was killed on Mabel remarried to Sydney Herbert Clark on 18 December 1920 at the parish church of St Luke’s West Norwood London.  They lived in 140 Bingham Road, Addiscombe, Croydon in 1925 and in 1931 they were living in Holmfield, 6 Green Head Lane, Dalton, later moving to Rotherfield in East Sussex.

Enid did not know her father, she had been just three and a half when her father joined the army and four and a half when he died.  When her mother remarried Enid gained a step father who she adored and referred to him as “her beloved step father" and Sidney’s family treated her as if she was their own grandchild.  Enid went on to be a Prep School teacher and remained unmarried.  She died in 2004 aged 92.

If you can add anything to the story please get in touch by email or comment. 

Arthur's Memorial Scroll

Letter stating where Arthur is buried
Letter awarding Arthur's medals

Marriage certificate for Arthur and Mabel

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