Molly Copland visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her uncle Arthur Edward Arnett.
Arthur Arnett was born in Wakefield on 3rd July 1896 and was educated at Sanda Elementary School and Leeds Central High School before working as a Junior Clerk at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment on 17th February 1916, serving with the British Expeditionary Force from 28th June. Following a transfer to the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Arthur was wounded at the Somme around 11th September 1916. He spent five weeks in hospital before being sent back to England, eventually returning to France with the 6th Yorks and Lancs on 18th March 1917. After transferring to the 10th Battalion following losses at the Battle of Loos, Arthur was killed in action at Gheluvelt on 28th September 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.
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Canon John Purvis OBE (1890-1968) Canon John Purvis was an extremely talented artist and photographer. He is best remembered however for his historical and literary achievements. His translation of the original York Mystery Plays into modern English were central to their revival during the Festival of Britain in 1951. This work, along with his initiation of the Borthwick Institute for Archives in York, lead to his OBE in 1958. Purvis was born in Bridlington 1890. After studying at Cambridge University he worked at Cranleigh School as a history teacher, a role to which he would return after the First World War. He enlisted with the Yorkshire Regiment, serving with the 5th Battalion from early 1916. Purvis was wounded during the Battle of the Somme on the first occasion he went ‘over the top’. On that day, 15th September 1916, he had recorded history’s first tank attack in pen and ink in the early light of dawn. Two well known war poems, ‘High Wood’ and ‘Chance Memory’, originally published under the pseudonym Philip Johns(t)one are now known to have been written by Purvis.
Edmund was born around 1885. Little is known of Edmund’s early life. In 1901 the sixteen year old Edmund was living at Park House, the Gayle home of a local solicitor called Simon Willan. Edmund worked there as an office boy. By the beginning of the war Edmund was married to Agnes Waggett and had a son, William, and a daughter, Nora. By then Edmund was employed in helping to run Strands Farm at Simonstone near Hardraw. Edmund enlisted at Leyburn joining the 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Private Edmund Staveley was killed on the 9th June 1917 during The Battle of Messines. He was 32 years old. He is buried in the Military Cemetery at Poperinge. Edmund’s brother, Lister, had already been killed the previous year during the Somme offensive.
Alfred Myers came from a large family in East Cleveland and before the war worked with two of his brothers in the ironstone mines. A member of the Independent Labour Party and a devout Wesleyan Methodist, he played a key role in his local community. He was a tenor in the Wesleyan Carlin How choir, a Sunday school superintendent and trustee of the local church. Myer’s service record survives and records the process of his arrest and sentencing in cold, hard terms. One month after his posting he was arrested and court-martialled. Initially he was sentenced to death but this was commuted to 10 years imprisonment. At his hearing for exemption from compulsory military service, Myers asserted his belief in an international brotherhood of man, and stated that he ‘could not conscientiously kill, nor assist in killing’. But like so many others he was only granted exemption from combatant service and was sent to the Non-Combatant Corps at Richmond Castle. In the cells at Richmond, Myers’s tenor voice was put to good use. With two other conscientious objectors, Brocklesby and Gaudie, he sang the hymn ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ in three-part harmony. Myers’s performance wasn’t as perfect as the other prisoners hoped, however – they had to bang on the cell floor to keep him in time. Following his ordeal with the rest of the Richmond Sixteen in France, Myers was sent first to Dyce Camp, near Aberdeen, and then Maidstone prison. Others of the Richmond Sixteen were also…