Sunday, 30 March 2014

Remembering Arthur

Of all the names and places I had to find on my recent trip to the battlefields, I was particularly keen to find the last resting place of Arthur Stemp. Arthur is a rarity in the Ypres Salient in as much as he actually has a grave as opposed to most of the men from Crawley who just have a name on one of the Memorials to the Missing.

Arthur was killed on 16th November 1916. News of his death was reported a month later in the local press as follows:

Local War Casualties. – The sad news has come to hand that Pte. Arthur Stemp, of the Civil Service Rifles, has made the great sacrifice, he being killed in action on the 16th ult., in France, where he had been for only three months. Private Stemp was born in Crawley, and for a time worked at the International Stores. His mother is now living at Crawley Down. He was a nephew of a Mr John Charman, the verger of St Peter’s Church, and was much liked and respected. Pte. Stemp was a married man, aged 28, and leaves a young widow with whom much sympathy is felt.  

Arthur was buried, along with half a dozen or so of his comrades all killed on the same day, at the Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) cemetery about four kilometres south of Ypres.

The single track railway line that carries the train up from Brussels, via Ypres, to Poperinge passes right by the cemetery hence its name. It is a very peaceful spot apart from the passing of an occasional train.

We shall never know what happened to Arthur and his comrades on that day but I would like to think he would have been pleased that nearly a hundred years later someone from his home town remembered him.

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