Arthur William Cusack Butler

Great War Stories

This post is Part 1 of the Great War Stories series which was compiled by members some years ago for the School Open Evening.  It seems the right time to give them another airing.  It concerns one soldier who did not return home but was missing in action.

Arthur William Cusack Butler a Corporal in the 1st/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the son of Mr and Mrs W Butler of 154 Leam Terrace Leamington Spa died on 8 October 1917.  His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, in Zonnebeeke, Ypres Salient Battlefields, Belgium.

tyne-cot-memorial-2-1000

He was born in 1896 the son of Walter and Susan Butler of Emscote Road in Warwick and baptised on 17 December 1896 at All Saints Church Emscote.  His father was a self-employed painter and decorator and the family lived at 123 Emscote Road in Warwick.

By 1911 the family had moved to 154 Leam Terrace in Leamington Spa and Arthur had left school and got a job as an errand boy.  At the time the Great War broke out in August 1914 Arthur would have only  been 17.

His service record has not survived but he did not receive either the 14 star or the 14/15 star medals so he did not go to war on the Western Front until at least 1916 when he would have been 19 years old.  However we do know the date he died and the Unit War Diary for October 1917 gives us a picture of what was happening at the time.

October 1917

A major offensive in Flanders had begun in June 1917 with the Battle of Messines, followed at the end of July with the beginning stages of the Third Battle of Ypres.  When in September the ground dried out the Allied forces’ luck began to change.  Advancing on an eight mile front, they steadily gained territory and captured the Menin Road Bridge and Polygon Wood.  The next step was to capture the Gheluvelt Plateau and the Broosiende Ridge – due to commence on 4 October 1917.

It was in this operation that Arthur Butler was to lose his life.

On 1 October the 1/4th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers was in position to the North East of Ypres making ready for the forthcoming offensive.  Issued with battle stores on 3 October they moved up the line during that night guided by men from the 1/1st Buckinghamshire Regiment.

The War Diary records that it was:

“A bright moon being overcast with clouds leaving sufficient light to see quite well without making movement visible to the enemy”  

All was quiet until 5.30 am on 4 October when the enemy guns started a heavy barrage which (according to plan) was matched at 6 am by an Allied barrage and then the Allied attack began.   Despite a good deal of resistance and sniper, shell and machine gun fire the battalion achieved its objective by the end of that day and settled down in positions formerly held by the Germans.

There they stayed, rain and cold making “conditions very trying” (with the rations on the night of the 5 October came a very welcome issue of dry socks).  There was no enemy action but much shell and sniper fire, and the battalion was relieved on the night of 7 October by the 1/1st  Buckinghamshire Regiment and moved into bivouacs near IRISH FARM “Everyone being in by 4 am”.

By the morning of 8 October the rain had stopped and the battalion was moved by motor lorry to SEIGE CAMP from where the next day they marched to POPERINGHE and into billets in the town.  There they took much needed baths on 10 October and were inspected the following day when casualties were calculated and reported.

Killed

Capt. J J Croal 5th R.S.F  (Royal Scots Fusiliers)

2/Lt. H R Rodgers

Other ranks 23

Wounded   

2/Lt. Bennet

2/Lt. Brant

2/Lt.Hearn (temporarily attached to  6 Bn R War Reg.)

Other ranks 140

Missing               

Other ranks 14

Corporal Arthur Butler was among those listed as missing.

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