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War Memorials



In Memory of
ARTHUR JOYCE BLAGDURN
Private 302065
9th The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment)
Who was Killed in Action on Sunday, 24th March 1918
Age 20

No Known Grave. Panel 13 & 14
Pozieres British Cemetery & Memorial to the "Missing", Ovillers-La-Boiselle, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Pozieres British Cemetery & Memorial

Pozieres British Cemetery & Memorial

Arthur Joyce Blagdurn was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in January 18982, the eldest of four children - all sons - of Arthur (b. 1874, Beeston, Notts) and Catherine Blagdurn (née Joyce, 1868, Mesham, Derbyshire)3. In 1901, Arthur & Catherine were living with their then two sons, aged 3 and 1, at 38 Upper Regent Street, Beeston with Arthur working as a hot water pipe maker.4. By 1911, the family, now including all four sons, was living at 56 Regent Street, Beeston. By that time Arthur senior was working as a boiler maker at Beeston Foundry and Arthur junior, aged 13, had started works as a greengrocer's errand boy5. It seems that Arthur junior later started work at Beeston Foundry, before leaving to join the Army.

Arthur's Army Service Record records that he attested on the 8th May 1916, and joined 2/7th Battalion Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) for training6. On 8th June 1917, he was posted to the Western Front, joining 9th Battalion which was about to become involved with the Third Battle of Ypres (widely known as 'Passchendaele'). The terrible conditions, almost relentless enemy action and high casualties that he would have faced would have been a terrifying introduction to the realties of the War.

In November, the Battalion took part on the Cambrai operation, described by Sir Douglas Haig as the gaining of a 'local success by a sudden attack at a point where the enemy did not expect it' and to some extent it succeeded. The proposed method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, tanks were be used to break through the German wire, with the infantry following under the cover of smoke barrages. The attack began early in the morning of 20 November 1917 and initial advances were remarkable. However, by 22 November, a halt was called for rest and reorganisation, allowing the Germans to reinforce such that by 29 November, it was clear that the Germans were ready for a major counter attack. During the fierce fighting of the next five days, much of the ground gained in the initial days of the attack was lost. For the Allies, the results of the battle were ultimately disappointing but valuable lessons were learnt about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting. The Germans had also discovered that their fixed lines of defence, no matter how well prepared, were vulnerable7.

During March 1918, the battalion was near Beauvois, west of Saint-Quentin, in support of the line. A major attack by the enemy had been expected for some time as enemy positions had been strangely quite. Then, on 21st March, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The objective was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. 9th Battalion was ordered to take up battle positions and came under heavy shelling - including gas. After two ordered withdrawals and heavy casualties, the line was held by three companies and they fought strongly and bravely and were able to resist further sustained and well organised enemy advances. Sadly, Private Blagdurn was amongst the many killed defending the line during this operation8.

Having no known grave, Private Blagdurn is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial which commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918. The Corps and Regiments most largely represented are The Rifle Brigade with over 600 names, The Durham Light Infantry with approximately 600 names, the Machine Gun Corps with over 500, The Manchester Regiment with approximately 500 and The Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery with over 400 names. The memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery Plot II of which contains original burials of 1916, 1917 and 1918, carried out by fighting units and field ambulances. The remaining plots were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields immediately surrounding the cemetery, the majority of them of soldiers who died in the Autumn of 1916 during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme, but a few represent the fighting in August 1918. There are now 2,755 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,375 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them9.

Private Blagdurn was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10. His Army financial effects and War Gratuity totaling 16 12 6d were paid to his father on 10 October 191811.

His parents were to live out their respective lives at 56 Regent Street, Beeston, Arthur senior continued to work at Beeston Foundry (later to become Beeston Boiler Company) until his death in 1920, aged only 45. In turn, each of his sons was to work at the Foundry at various times in their lives. Catherine died in 1942, aged 7412.


Footnotes
1The photograph of the Pozieres British Cemetery & Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His age was recorded as 18 years and 75 days when he attested on 8 May 1916. This would mean that he was born on approximately 13 February 1898. However, as he was baptised on 30 January 1898 at St Barnabas Roman Catholic Church, Nottingham the record appears to have been incorrect. His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q1/1888 (Ref 7b 211).
3Arthur and Catherine were married in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1897 (Ref 7b 732)
4Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 118
5Beeston, Notts, 1911 Census, Piece 20431 RD429 SD3 ED6 Sched 320. Arthur's siblings were William Richard (b. 1899), George Frederick (b. 1901) and Michael John (b. 1902).
6The dates of his attestation, transfers, etc are from his Army Service Records which is available on ancestry.com.
7This outline of the strategy and outcome of the Cambrai operations is from the Commonwealth War Graves description of the Cambrai Memorial.(http://www.cwgc.org)
8This brief account is based on 9th Battalion's war diary - available at ancestry.com.
9This description of the Pozieres British Cemetery & Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
10Private Blagdurn's medal awards are recorded in the Medal Rolls and on his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com.
11Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
12Based on standard genealogy sources and Beeston Boiler Company records.

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