2/Lt. Arthur James Southcott

Arthur James Southcott was born on July 18, 1895 in Woodford, Essex to Arthur Southcott, a civil servant at the royal mint and Annie Southcott (née Pattison). He was educated at The Cooper’s Company School, in London, and by 1911 was living in Woodford with his parents, his younger brother, Walter Roy Southcott, and a domestic servant. His father passed away on January 31, 1912.

Shortly after the outbreak of war, on September 3, 1914, he left his civilian job as a shipping clerk and joined the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles) as a Rifleman (#3177), undergoing 3 months basic training at Crowborough and Fleet. On November 5, 1914 the 1/9th London Regiment landed at Le Havre and went into the trenches at Neuve Eglise on November 29th recording their first casualties on December 4th. On December 31st they occupied the trenches again and the following day Rifleman Southcott sprained his back and was medically evacuated to England leaving France on January 5, 1915. Back in England he was assigned to the 2/9th Battalion while he recovered and there was granted a commission as a temporary Second-Lieutenant on March 27, 1915 with the 12th (Service) Battalion, The Essex Regiment.

He deployed to Gallipoli, and on October 7, 1915 was attached to the 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment along with 4 other junior officers from the Essex and South Lancashire Regiments. There is no official mention of his movements or activities at Gallipoli save for a reference to reporting sick to hospital on December 4-8, 1915. He rejoined the Battalion on December 9th but two days later was admitted to the 17th Stationary Hospital at Cape Helles suffering from Diarrhea. He was medically evacuated to England on January 3, 1916 from Mudros sailing on the hospital ship Britannic and arrived at Southampton on January 9th, by now diagnosed with gastritis and enteritis.

He was given a month’s convalescent leave and on Feb 12, 1917 was pronounced fit for home service. A month later the Army medical board passed him fit for general service.

He deployed to France and was attached to the 10th Battalion, The Essex Regiment who at the time were part of the 53rd Brigade in 18th (Eastern) Division. They had taken heavy casualties in July at the Battle of Delville Wood and again in September at the Battle of Thiepval Ridge but on October 17, 1916 they were taking over the lines near Courcelette (S.W. of Bapaume).  The battalion war diary simply states, “No 2 Platoon of “A” Company on reaching the BAPAUME POST was knocked out by a bomb from enemy aeroplane”. But a first-hand account of the incident provides more detail:

Account of Incident of Bomb from Enemy Aeroplane on morning of 17th October – by the [3] survivors:

“On the morning of the 17th inst. we were being marched up the BAPAUME ROAD in our platoon under 2/Lt. A. J. Southcott the platoon commander. When we reached the point on the road formerly known as BAPAUME POST a very heavy bomb fell and exploded about 3 yards to the left of the centre of the platoon. This was at about 5:40am when the light was poor and there was a heavy mist issuing from the river. All the platoon were rendered casualties except ourselves. Officer (2/Lt. A. J. Southcott) wounded. Other ranks: 1 killed and 17 wounded.

We were marching at ease at the time and were singing so no one either heard the aeroplane or the noise of the bomb descending. After the explosion we immediately commenced to bandage the wounded and some 3 or 4 minutes after the explosion we saw the aeroplane hovering fairly low little distance to the right, where it dropped another bomb. There were lights and fires burning in the camps both on the right and left of the road where the bombs were dropped.”

2/Lt. Southcott was struck by a fragment of bomb shrapnel which entered the lower part of the right buttock passing through the rectum from which it passed 3 days later, which can’t have been pleasant. He was medically evacuated to England on the Asturias embarking at Le Havre on October 20 and disembarking at Southampton on the 21st where he was transported to London and admitted to Lady Mountgarret’s Convalescent Hospital for Officers. The wound became septic but healed reasonably quickly but he then developed Gastritis and Enteritis as he had before in Gallipoli. It was not until June 16, 1917 that he was finally pronounced fit for general service again whereupon he proceeded to the 27th Training Reserve Battalion, Harwich Fortress at Dovercourt, Essex.

On June 7, 1918 he suffered the humiliation of a Field General Court Martial, accused of Drunkenness at Felixstowe on May 13. He pleaded Not Guilty but was found Guilty and severely reprimanded. He relinquished his commission and left the Army on February 23, 1919 retaining the rank of Lieutenant.

In 1920 he applied to the War Office for his medals and the contact address was later amended from his mother’s home in Essex to that of the Militia Council Headquarters, in Ottowa, Canada. He officially emigrated to Canada in March 1923 and became the head clerk at an aircraft engine manufacturer called Armstrong-Siddeley, (later to become Hawker-Siddeley), in Ottowa. Lt. Arthur James Southcott died suddenly on June 31, 1935 and is buried in the Beechwood Cemetery, Ottowa. He was 39 years old.

2/Lt. George Frederick Barker

George Frederick Barker was born in 1884, in Brentwood Essex to Frederick Inkerman Barker, (a blacksmith and farrier) and Kate Barker (née Monsear). George was the oldest of four children and the only son. His father died in 1903 and by 1911 he was living with his widowed mother and three sisters and employed as a school teacher for the Poplar Guardians (a poor house which built a training school for around 700 pupils in 1906/07 at Hulton in Essex). He was reportedly a fine athlete playing both football and cricket at a high amateur level in Brentwood.

He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant on December 5, 1914 and underwent his basic training with the 12th Battalion, The Essex Regiment. During this time, in the latter half of 1915, he married Lydia Laura Horwood. He deployed to Gallipoli, and on October 7, 1915 was attached to the 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment along with 4 other junior officers from the Essex and South Lancashire Regiments.

There is no official mention of his movements or activities at Gallipoli save for a reference to reporting sick to hospital on December 8, 1915, most likely the 17th Stationary Hospital at Cape Helles. He remained in Hospital for six weeks until he was medically evacuated to Malta, disembarking on January 21, 1916 and diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever. There he was admitted to the Blue Sisters Hospital the following day. Two weeks later, on February 5th, he embarked on the Hospital Ship Aquitania bound for England via Naples.

On September 1, 1916 he was promoted to acting Lieutenant in the Training Reserve and remained so until February 16, 1917 when he relinquished his acting rank of Lieutenant and reverted to temporary 2nd Lieutenant. A week later he joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Essex Regiment at Felixstowe, on February 22, 1917. The 3rd Essex was a depot and training unit and he remained there until he was passed fit for active service. Two months later he sailed to France and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Essex Regiment on April 22, 1917 while they were in billets at Beaufort-Blavincourt, a few kilometers West of Arras. The timing was not good as the Battalion was engaged in the Second Battle of Arras and both sides were suffering heavy casualties.

A week after his arrival, the Battalion moved into the front lines at 8pm on April 30, 1917. There they were subjected to enemy artillery and sniper fire and took several casualties. On May 3rd they were directly involved in an attack against the German positions and suffered 5 killed, 96 wounded and 106 missing other ranks with 2 officers killed, 8 wounded and 4 missing. The following day the battalion moved back to the support line. On May 10th they moved towards the front lines again when they supported an attack by the 11th Brigade. By this time the Battalion HQ was located in a cellar at Fampoux. On May 12th they were in the front lines again supporting an attack by the 10th and 11th Brigades. The battalion started to pull out during the evening and was fully relieved at midnight. The scale of the battalion’s casualties over the past month is made evident by an excerpt from the war diary entry for May 12:

“Only 4 Officers came out of the line with the Battalion out of 25 who had been with them this tour. 2 Officers wounded. 2/Lt. G. F. Barker killed.”

Temporary Second Lieutenant George Frederick Barker was killed in action on May 12, 1917 at Fampoux, France. He was 33 years old. His wife was notified by telegram 6 days later:

War Office Telegram to Mrs. Lydia Laura Barker

He is buried in the Saint Nicolas British Cemetery, Arras and commemorated at the Ilford War Memorial Hall.