Regiment : 1st/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
Service number : 1878
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : 3rd January 1916 aged 19
Buried : Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial, France, Pier and Face 5A and 6C.
Relatives : Son of Joseph and Hannah Maria Nokes, 21 New Buildings, Birmingham Rd., Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
Memorial : Bromsgrove All Saints Church WW1 Memorial
The following information has very kindly been submitted by Arthur’s great nephew, Dr David C.B. Nokes:
Arthur Nokes was born in Blackmoor, Birmingham Road, Bromsgrove on 25 October 1896 and was baptised at All Saints Church on 11 November, the son of Joseph and Hannah Maria Nokes (nee Crawford). By the 1911 census he was an Apprentice Plumber.
On 17 March 1913 he enlisted in the 1st/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as Private Arthur Nokes 1878. An Attestation Record (partly burnt) shows him as a Plumber with Tilt Brothers, aged 17 Yrs 4 Months. Many 1st World War Soldiers’ records were damaged or destroyed in a fire at the War Office repository in London following a German air raid in September 1940.
The details in the next paragraph are from ‘The Worcester Regiment in the Great War’, Capt. H. FitzM. Stacke, 1928, G.T. Cheshire and Sons Ltd, Kidderminster (republished 2002 under ISBN 1843423782):
On 19 September 1914 the 1/8 Battalion moved to Maldon, Essex to spend the winter months at good billets. Then on 30 March 1915 they moved from Maldon East Station and embarked at Folkstone on the S.S. Invicta and sailed to Boulogne. In January 1916 the Battalion were in the trenches near the village of Hebuterne in the Somme. The Battalion (1/8th) had been moved there from Flanders the previous year. The winter caused many hardships for the troops. Casualties for the Battalion at Hebuterne from June 1915 to January 1916 were 13 killed.
One of those thirteen killed was Arthur Nokes who died on 3 January 1916. From information given to his family by an ex-Soldier he was killed in a trench during a mortar bombardment. This is further confirmed in a news report in the Bromsgrove Messenger of 15 Jan 1916 wherein (quoting letters to his Parents from his Battalion Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel W.K. Peake, and the commander of ‘C’ Company, Captain Lionel Kerwood) it is stated that he and six other men died in a dug out which received a direct hit from a German shell. It further states that the bodies were not recovered after two days of searching and that a funeral service was held over the bodies by the Chaplain.
The following information was extracted from a website devoted to the history of Malvern, Worcestershire (www.malvernremembers.org.uk) in July 2007:
In 1915, the 1/8th Battalion had spent Christmas day in the trenches at Hebuterne, Somme, but on New Year’s Day the Battalion feasted and made merry. In the afternoon they played the 1/7th Battalion at rugby and won 10-0. However these celebrations were marred on the 3rd January when right hand trenches occupied by C Company were submitted to a severe shelling for over half an hour with 7.7cm, 4.2 and 5.9 inch shells. As the War Diary states: ‘This resulted in 7 killed and 8 wounded through the collapse of a large dug-out constructed by the French before British occupation of the line and, owing to faulty construction, it failed to withstand two direct hits. The collapse was due to cross beams not extending far enough beyond the uprights, the absence of wall plates to prevent the frames from shifting and the longitudinal roof beams being various lengths with the joints distributed over the length of the roof. The second shell hit the end of the central cross-beam dislodging it from its supporting upright so nearly half the roof collapsed.’
Horace Smith of Evesham wrote: ‘Our first day in this time was a tragic one. The enemy bombarded our trenches heavily. Two big shells fell on a dug-out, in which about twenty men of ‘C’ company were sheltering. Seven were killed and pinned beneath the wreckage in such a way that it was impossible to recover the bodies, eight were injured and are now in hospital.’
The men killed in the dug-out collapse were Pte George Grubb of Malvern, Pte Arthur Nokes and Sergeant Harry Edwards of Bromsgrove, Ptes Mark Bolstridge, Joseph Briggs, Aubrey Hanks and Stanley Samuel of Birmingham all of whom would have enlisted at Kings Norton.
The sources of information for the website were:
War Diary of the 1/8th Worcestershire Regiment: WFR RHQ (deposited at National Archives under WO95/2759).
Evesham Journal and Four Counties Advertiser 08/01/1916.
Arthur was thus with The Expeditionary Force in France from 1.4.15 to 3.1.16. He was posthumously awarded the three W.W.1 medals. These items, together with a Medallion and aluminium Identity Disc (Dog Tag), were successively held by his father, then Stanley Nokes his youngest brother, and Stanley’s wife, Mary Beatrice Nokes. Mary gave the items to the author on 24 Jan 1998. Bearing in mind his body was not recovered where did the Disc come from? Arthur is listed on the Thiepval Memorial, Nr Albert, Somme, France. The Memorial was inaugurated in 1932 and he is named with the Servicemen of the Worcestershire Regiment on Pier and Face 5A and 6C. His name was seen by the author on the Memorial in May 1997. The Thiepval Memorial is to be found on the D73 off the main Bapaume to Albert Road (D929).
Family information copywright and courtesy of Dr David C.B. Nokes, Grand-Nephew of Arthur. February 2015. Contact: email@example.com
Arthur Nokes has no known grave, the photograph available shows his name on Thiepval Memorial.