Acting/Sergeant Arthur Whittle
11081 1st Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 22nd February 1915, aged 36
Lived at 55 Robinson Street
Buried in Wulverghem (Lindenhoek Rd.) Cemetery, Belgium
Burnley Express 6/3/1915
||Burnleys Great War Centenary
||Sponsored by: Peter Kennedy
Arthur Whittle was born on 19th July 1878, at 102 Oxford Street, Blackburn
and christened on 1st September. His parents, John Thomas Whittle (a cotton
spinner) and Mary Cooper (a warper), had married in 1870 (in Blackburn)
and when Arthur came along their family already consisted of three daughters.
On the 1871 Census the couple were living at 103 Oxford Street, Blackburn.
The 1881 census shows the family living at 87 Withers Street, Blackburn.
John (born 1847, Blackburn), Mary (born 1847, Blackburn), Rebecca and
Elizabeth (born 1874, Blackburn), Martha (born 1876, Blackburn), Arthur
and Mary Ann (age one month, Blackburn).
By the time of the 1891 Census the family had moved to 18 Dewhurst Street,
Blackburn. Rebecca, Elizabeth, Martha and Arthur are all shown as weavers.
Additions to the family were Yates (born 1883, Blackburn), Alice (born
1887, Blackburn), and John Chippendale (born 1890, Blackburn).
Arthur’s father died in 1892.
On 8th January 1896 Arthur enlisted in the Militia at Preston, following
a medical examination two days earlier. As Private Whittle, regimental
number 3460, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancaster
Regiment. Described as a weaver, 18 years and five months old, 5’4½”
tall, weighing 121lbs, with a sallow complexion, brown eyes and dark brown
hair, he had several scars on his right shin. Living at 115 Hamilton Street,
Blackburn his “present master” was Mr Johnson. He noted that
he was a Wesleyan on his attestation papers. For some reason he purchased
his discharge soon afterwards.
A year later he tried again. At Blackburn, on 25th January 1897, he enlisted
in the Loyal North Lancaster Regiment for the second time. A medical examination,
in Preston the next day, was followed by him being approved as a private,
regimental number 5442, on 27th January. He had enlisted for seven years
with the Colours and five years in the Reserve. Still a weaver, this time
his age was correct at 18 years and six months. He had grown – now
5’5¼” tall and weighing 137lbs. The description again
notes his sallow complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair with a scar
on his right shin. He now states that he is a Presbyterian. Posting to
the 2nd Battalion came on 21st May. 0n 1st April 1898 Arthur elected to
“come under the Conditions of Special Army Order”. He obtained
his 3rd class certificate of education on 20th August.
Arthur was posted to the 1st Battalion and sent to South Africa, both
on 25th February 1899. The Loyal North Lancashires were stationed in Cape
Town as part of the peacetime garrison of Cape Colony. They had arrived
from Ceylon on the Avoca on 9th March. Arthur was appointed lance-corporal
on 10th June, receiving pay for that rank from the 19th. His pay increased
from 23rd August with the grant of good conduct pay of a penny a day.
An entry on his service record after this date shows that he was “antedated
with pay 11th June 1899”.
On September 21st HQ, A, B, G and H companies of the 1st Battalion arrived
in Kimberley – 413 men and nine officers – to join their commanding
officer Lieutenant-Colonel Robert George Kekewich.
The Second Boer War broke out on 11th October and the Boers invaded Cape
Colony. The Free State commandoes from Boshof, Jacobsdal and Kroonstad,
led by Cornelius Janse Wessels (4,800 men) and those from the Transvaal
of Lichtenburg, Wolmaranstad and Bloemhof, under Koos de la Rey (2,200
men) surrounded the town of Kimberley on October 14th. Colonel Kekewich,
with 2,600 men in his garrison of which only 580 were regulars, declared
a state of siege the following day. The town contained 40, 000 inhabitants.
The Boers called for the garrison to surrender on 4th November.
Kimberley was relieved 15th February 1900. The Loyal North Lancaster Regiment
companies from the town joined Lord Methuen’s column. They marched
through the Kimberley-Boshof district to the Lindley district. Arthur
was deprived of his lance-corporal stripe on 8th May. July found the regiment
travelling by rail to the Transvaal. From 22nd July to 8th August they
were at Oliphant’s Nek when confused orders from Colonel Robert
Baden-Powell allowed Christiaan de Wet to escape the trap that had been
set for him. After reaching Mafeking and operating in the South-West Transvaal
for many months, the Lancashires marched from Taungs to Klerksdorp (February
1901). This was followed by marching and fighting around the Western Transvaal.
By the 1901 census Arthur’s mother was living at 22 Bondsall Street,
Livesey. Elizabeth had married Thomas Eccles (1896, Blackburn) and Martha
had married Albert Ormerod (1898, Blackburn). Elizabeth (while living
at 20 Bonsall Street, Blackburn) had a son who she named after her brother.
Arthur Whittle Eccles was born 27th April 1899, while Arthur was in South
Africa, and baptised 16th July. He died shortly afterwards.
Arthur’s mother died in 1902. The next of kin on his service record
changed from his mother (living at 36 John Bright Street, Blackburn) to
his sister “Miss E Whittle” (living at 56 Princess Terrace,
Mill Hill, Blackburn). He left South Africa aboard the Carisbrooke Castle,
17th September, having earned the Queen’s South Africa Medal (with
Defence of Kimberley, Orange Free State and Transvaal clasps) and the
King’s South Africa Medal (with 1901 and 1902 clasps).
Following the banns being read on 2nd November, 9th November and 16th
November, Arthur married Alice Jane Parkinson at the Parish Church of
St Francis at Feniscliffe on 22nd November 1902. Arthur is shown on the
marriage certificate as a weaver living at 56 Primrose Terrace. Alice
is shown as a binder living at 136 Bonsall Street, Blackburn. She had
been born on 8th June 1878 in Darwen, Lancashire and baptised on 23rd
of that month. The baptism record shows her family living in Kay Street,
Darwen. The witnesses at the wedding were Thomas and Elizabeth Eccles.
Arthur and Alice’s first child, Lily was born 1st July, 1903 (Blackburn).
On 25th January 1903 Arthur was granted good conduct pay of two pennies
a day. This was followed by a posting to Gibraltar and the 2nd Battalion
on 1st April. Seventeen days later he was approved pay as a lance-corporal.
His time in Gibraltar came to an end when he was sent home for transfer
to the Army Reserve, 4th January 1904. He was transferred to “B”
Army Reserve on 13th January.
Arthur was a witness at the wedding of his brother, Yates, to Elizabeth
Jane Harbour on 25th February 1905, held in the parish church at Feniscliffe.
Yates, a weaver living at 101 Bon-all Street, Blackburn at the time of
his wedding, is shown on the 1911 Census as a cotton loom overlooker living
at 37 Leyland Road, Burnley. His wife, now a cotton weaver, had had four
children of which two were still alive – Enoch (born 1906, Padiham)
and John Thomas (born 1911, Burnley). (On the baptism record for John
Thomas (1911) Yates is described as a tackler.) Yates enlisted in the
East Lancashire Regiment for The Great War. As Private Yates Whittle,
regimental number 6684 later changing to 201608, he entered France on
14th December 1914. He would survive the war, earning the 1914-15 Star,
British War Medal and Victory Medal. On 14th September 1923 he sailed
from Liverpool to Quebec aboard the Regina of the White Star Dominion
Line. On the passenger list he is described as an overlooker living at
55 Robinson Street, Burnley. He died in 1943 (Nelson, Lancashire).
Back to Arthur and his family. Mary Jane was born 25th May 1906 and baptised
28th July – while Arthur was an overlooker living in Padiham. Alice,
born 28th July 1907, baptised 7th September, sadly died in December.
Lance-Corporal Arthur Whittle was discharged on 24th January 1909 after
completion of his twelve years service.
When Eva, born 7th November 1909, was baptised 11th December Arthur was
an overlooker living at 12 Hay Street, Padiham. A son, Arthur, came along
on 16th September 1910. His baptism took place on 22nd October when the
family were living at 4 Grove Lane, Padiham.
The 1911 Census shows Arthur, a cotton loom overlooker, and Alice Jane,
a cotton loom worker, living at 10 Leyland Road, Blackburn. Lily, Mary
Jane and Arthur are all listed. Eva is on the census at the home of her
grandmother, Margaret Jane Parkinson, 4 Grove Lane, Padiham. Sadly, baby
Arthur died shortly afterwards. By that time the family were living in
John Robert was born on 12th November 1911. Eva passed away in 1912. A
last child, Henry, was born on 18th August 1914.
Arthur enlisted for service in The Great War on 1st September 1914 at
Hyde. Described as a weaver, 36 years and 29 days old, 5’6”
tall, weighing 142lbs, with pale brown eyes and black hair and a scar
on his right shin. He now shows his religion as Church of England. There
is no mention of his Boer War service on the attestation papers although
he does state that he has served, or is still serving, in the Cheshire
Volunteers and he is noted as being in the Special Reserve. Following
a medical examination at Birkenhead (2nd September) Arthur was mobilized
at Chester as Private Whittle, regimental number 11081, of the Cheshire
He was appointed lance-corporal (18th September), acting corporal (2nd
October) and acting sergeant (12th December) before being posted to the
1st Battalion on 18th December. He embarked from Southampton for France
on that date.
Five officers, 444 NCO’s and men, including Arthur, joined the 1st
Battalion at the Front on Christmas Eve 1914. The Regimental War Diary
records that they received their Princess Mary tins and cards from the
King and Queen on Christmas Day – in trenches at Wulverghem. They
stayed in position until the 29th, when the battalion went into billets
Acting Sergeant Arthur Whittle of D Company, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire
Regiment was killed in action on 22nd February 1915. His battalion had
relieved the 1st battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in D Sector of the
trenches near Wulverghem, on 20th February. The day after Arthur was killed
the Bedfords relieved the Cheshires. His death was announced in the Burnley
Express of 6th March.
It was decided on 3rd September that Alice would receive a pension, for
herself and her four children, of 25 shillings a week, payable from the
On correspondence dated 18th June 1916 Arthur is noted as being a member
of the National Reserve and his Identity Certificate number is given as
126. His home address had changed from 12 Plough Street to 5 Percy Street,
Mill Hill, Blackburn. By 1919 Alice had moved to 43 Henry Whalley Street,
Blackburn. This was the address to which his 1914-15 Star (issued 14th
August 1919), British War Medal and Victory Medal (issued 23rd November
1921) were sent. Arthur’s Memorial Plaque was issued on 11th December
Arthur Whittle is buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Cemetery, Belgium (reference
I B 10).
“For All Of Us He Did His Best, May God Give Him Eternal Rest”
He is commemorated on his wife’s headstone in the grounds of Christ
Church, Wheelock, Cheshire (Alice Jane Whittle passed away 1st February
1951). His name is on the Roll of Honour of the 8,420 men of the Cheshire
Regiment who died in The Great War. The roll is enshrined in the Regimental
Chapel of St George in Chester Cathedral.
“And All The Trumpets Sounded For Them On The Other Side”
(Courtesy of Peter Kennedy)